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"A master is always total in whatever he is doing; he may be chopping wood ....
It is said about Rinzai, the great master who brought Zen from China to Japan ....
He had a beautiful monastery and just near the gate he was chopping wood. Winter was coming soon; he was getting ready for the winter. He was so absorbed in chopping wood, when a man entered the gate.
Seeing a vast monastery he wondered where he was going to find the master, Rinzai. He had heard so much about him.
Seeing one man chopping wood, he asked him, ”Can you tell me where I can find Master Rinzai?”
Rinzai looked at the man. For a moment there was silence, and then he just indicated with his finger, ”There! As far as I know, Rinzai lives in that hut.” He was so absorbed, he forgot that he was Rinzai. The man went.
Then he had a second thought: ”My God! I am Rinzai, and the poor fellow has gone in search of me!” So he ran, he went into the hut from the back, sat in the master’s position.
The man knocked. Rinzai said, ”Come in.” The man looked at him: he was the same man, still perspiring.
The man said, ”But where is Master Rinzai?”
He said, ”I am Master Rinzai.”
The man said, ”Don’t deceive me. I have just seen you at the gate chopping wood.”
Rinzai said, ”That’s right. At that time I was not Master Rinzai, but just a woodcutter, totally a woodcutter. That’s why I forgot and I showed you the way. Then I remembered, and I had to run – you can see I am perspiring; I had to run by the back way and come quickly before you reached here. Now I am Master Rinzai. What do you want?”
The man was very puzzled. He could not believe it. What to say of this man: whether he is just a woodcutter pretending to be Rinzai or he IS Rinzai and was cutting wood?
He said, ”I will come some other day. You have confused me completely.”
Rinzai said, ”I have not confused you, you have always been confused. I have brought it to the
surface. Come some other time, but remember, I am doing all kinds of things. Sometimes I am
carrying water from the well. Don’t ask me where Master Rinzai is; at that time I am just a water