Remember the word with. He is saying, “I am already with the master. What are you talking about?” He did not say, “I don’t have a master” and he did not say, “I have a master.” He said, “With a master.”
That’s why I told you that he never became formally a disciple. His clarity, his enlightenment was so close when he came to Nansen that there was no need for him to be initiated. He was going to explode into light any moment. The season was ripe, the time was right. Any moment the fruit is going to fall down from the tree, as it becomes completely ripe. It is only a question of a few moments.
His answer is of tremendous beauty. He does not say, “I don’t have a master” and he does not say, “I have a master.”
“With a master,” replied Joshu.
“Who is your master?”
Nansen is poking him, to see whether he is simply talking like a parrot or he really knows.
“Early spring is cold,” said Joshu. “I am so glad that you are well.”
He did not answer the question, “Who is your master?” but simply indicated that, “I am with a master. Early spring is very cold and I am so glad that you are well.” Such an indirect and delicate, so sweet an answer.
Nansen called the senior monk and said, “Give him special treatment.”
He should not be thought just an ordinary monk. There were thousands…“Give him special treatment.” He is almost enlightened and he does not need any guidance.” Special treatment just means, give him opportunity, space, love, an atmosphere of friendliness, so he can blossom into a flower. He is already bursting to be a flower. He cannot remain a bud much longer, so give him special treatment.
On both sides it is a very special encounter. Nansen did not ask him to become a disciple. He accepted him as a guest. He gave him the same treatment as he would have given to an enlightened person. Neither did Joshu ask Nansen to accept him as a disciple. There is no need – Nansen will do everything that is necessary. All these formalities of being a disciple are put aside. Joshu can see Nansen, his radiant buddhahood, and he is absolutely satisfied that just sitting by his side is enough. No formality is needed. On both sides it is understood that it is an informal relationship.