Just because of your mind you are in a cage. You are not accepted by the universe, you are not showered with flowers by the universe because you are a prisoner of your own thoughts in a small skull. You are a prisoner, and a prisoner cannot be welcome.
Rinzai is saying, “Are you a prisoner, or should I welcome you as a free person?” – free from the mind.
The nun shouted. Her shout does not show that she has understood Rinzai. This is a difficulty – that as time passes everything becomes traditional. The shout was invented by Rinzai, but slowly, slowly it became a traditional answer: whenever you find yourself in a difficulty and you cannot answer, now you have a traditional answer. You can shout.
But the shout is not applicable everywhere. Somewhere it may be: if Rinzai had asked something which was meaningless, a good shout would have been the right answer. But what he has asked is so meaningful that you cannot respond with a shout. You have to respond with silence. You have to show your no-mind. You have to show that you are well-come.
Even though the nun shouted…“Go on, go on, speak!” cried Rinzai, taking up his stick. Again the nun shouted. She has just learned like a parrot.
You can learn anything like a parrot, that is the difficulty. You can learn great philosophy, you can learn theology, you can learn words of great beauty and you can repeat them without even knowing exactly their implications.
Now, in Zen this became a problem. When shouting or hitting with the stick is taken as a tradition, it loses all meaning. The nun shouted; Rinzai did not take any note of it. He said, “Go on, go on, speak! Are you well-come here or ill-come?” He ignored her shouting, he gave her another chance.
But the woman seems to have been stubborn, incapable of learning. Again the nun shouted. This was too much. Rinzai took up his stick, but did not hit her because she was not worthy of a hit. She was not even able to understand a simple question. She has only learned the shouting as a ritual. She is so poor as far as consciousness is concerned, she does not deserve a hit from a man like Rinzai.
In Zen, when the master hits you, it means he is showing his love, he is showing his acceptance. By hitting you he is giving you an indication of his approval. That is a kind of certificate. Disciples long for years to be hit by the master. It is a very different world that Zen has created.
In the ordinary world, if you hit somebody you know perfectly well what will happen. But in Zen it is totally different. The master hits only when there is a person who deserves it. The hit is a very secret approval. No outsider will understand what is going on. It is not for the outsiders; it is only for the insiders, the very few who can understand.
Rinzai cried, “Go on, go on, speak!” But she seems to have been very stubborn. This was the time Rinzai should have hit her, but he simply cried, taking up his stick…