Ordinarily it will seem as if he is answering the monk and saying to him that, “When the spring becomes solid, ice, you cannot drink from it, it does not go in the mouth.” But that is not his meaning. He is saying: truth does not come from outside, it is already within you. It may be spring or it may be summer, it doesn’t matter.
The monk went to Joshu, another master, and said what had been discussed.
Joshu said, “If it won’t go in the mouth, it won’t go through the nostrils.”“
Why have you come here? You have been answered. You are still seeking outside; your question is pointing like an arrow from something outside – and you are the one who is holding the arrow, you are the very target. Just try to understand that by changing the master nothing is changed.
“If it won’t go in the mouth, it won’t go through the nostrils.”
The monk then asked, “How about when the old valley water is a cold spring?”
This is the mind of man. This monk represents the mind and its obsession; it goes on asking again and again without seeing the point. The point is obvious.
Joshu said, “How disagreeable it is! “
Your superficiality, your question – how disagreeable it is!
The monk said, “What about drinking it?”
The same obsession. The question has not changed even a single inch.
Joshu said, “You will die.”
If you go on asking in the hope of finding an answer from the outside, there is nothing else for you: “You will die.”
Only death comes from outside. Life is within. Life is; death comes and goes. Death is only an episode in an eternal journey of consciousness.
When Seppo heard of this conversation, he said, “Joshu is one of the ancient buddhas,” and bowed down in respect to Joshu, from a distance.
After that he answered no question himself.
After this anecdote Seppo never spoke again. Seeing the futility of people’s minds, their consistent misunderstanding, not only Seppo but many mystics have remained silent. Their silence is immensely symbolic of our stupid, obsessive, continuously questioning mind. Their silence is the answer although you have not asked it. In their silence perhaps you may also become silent.