He was thinking, “What could be more appropriate than this answer?” In fact, no answer is ever appropriate for a Zen koan. That has to be remembered. Don’t look for any answer, just look for silence. Just be utterly silent. In your silence the master will be able to see your answer.
Anzan said, “How about you? – if you think my answer is not right, and I am dumb.”
Rinzai observed, “You animal!”
“Making the sound moo, moo you have proved that you are still using the animal mind.”
In Zen, mind is an animal heritage, and unless you go beyond mind, you are not an authentic human being. Just your body is that of a human being, but your mind is a very long process of four million years of animals; it contains all the animals you have gone through. You are not newcomers, you are old, as old as the time life has existed on this earth, and you have passed through all the phases of animals. Your consciousness carries a tremendous past.
So when Rinzai says, “You animal!” he is not condemning him. He is simply stating the fact that he is still using the animal mind. Only when you are in a state of no-mind do you go beyond the animal. You go beyond your past, you open up to the universe; you are no more simply repeating your past heritage. Your past heritage is the heritage of all animals.
His saying this is not condemnatory; in Zen there is no condemnation. People may misunderstand, but he is simply saying that you are using the animal mind to figure out what the answer will be. I wanted you to go beyond the human mind, beyond the animal mind, because no-mind only is the answer to every koan, to every question, to every quest. A single answer – no-mind. Be so silent that there is no thought at all. So it does not matter what the koan is, the answer is the same: utter silence, going beyond the animal mind.
On one occasion Rinzai asked a nun, “Well-come or ill-come?”
The nun shouted.
“Go on, go on, speak!” cried Rinzai, taking up his stick. Again the nun shouted. Rinzai hit her.
Now, it will look absolutely absurd to anybody who has been brought up with a rational education. What is happening here? A nun comes, Rinzai asks her, “Well-come or ill-come?” The nun shouted. That was not the right answer.
When a man like Rinzai asks, “Well-come or ill-come?”, he is saying that if you come with the mind, you are ill-come; if you come with no-mind, you are well-come. Only no-mind is well-come. In the world of Zen, mind is the only thing that has to be thrown out, and then you have the whole universe available. You are welcomed by the whole universe.