On the mountaintop is Kinzan’s temple and just at the foothills, this old woman…but she was no ordinary woman. When she said “here” she was not using the word in the dictionary sense; she was using the word in the existential sense. “Where do you live?” and she said, “Here.” Where else can one live?
And the three went into her tea-shop. The old woman made a pot of tea, brought three cups and put them on the table and said, “Let the one who has god-like power drink the tea!”
The three looked at each other but nobody said anything, and nobody drank the tea.
The old woman said, “This silly old woman will show you her full power. Just watch!” And she took the tea, drank it up, and departed.
Zen does not make any distinction between men and women. And this old woman was a master herself. She used to live near, by the monastery of her master, just to help people, to show them the way. But she herself was a master, and once in a while she will play the game – and she played it perfectly.
First she said, “Here” and the three misunderstood. They entered her hut. They thought simply that she is running this small tea-shop. They ordered tea, the woman prepared the tea. But bringing the teapot and three cups, she also proposed a condition: that whosoever can show god-like power can drink the tea. “This is no ordinary tea and I don’t serve anybody, just xyz…show god-like power!”
All three looked at each other. Nobody was courageous enough to show himself otherwise everybody is a god. Seeing the situation, the old woman said,
“This silly old woman will show you her full power. Just watch!”
Each of these words is significant.
And she took the tea, drank it up, and departed.
God-like power does not mean anything else than acting spontaneously, without any thought – just naturally. All three were capable of doing that, but they started thinking about god-like power: “My God! I don’t have god-like power. Certainly I cannot drink the tea. This woman seems to be very dangerous. What a condition? She has not asked money for the tea, she is offering the tea free – ‘just show your god-like power.’”