PICTORIAL BIOGRAPHY OF THE VENERABLE MASTER HSU YUN
by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
THE PIERCING QUESTION "WHAT IS IT?" #52
The Master then asked about the road to Wu T'ai Mountain. Wen Chi told him that from Meng Hsien, he would pass through Tai Chou and then O K'ou, where there was a bhiksu in Pi Mo Cavern named Ch'ing Yi. He was one who well upheld the moral precepts.
"How far is Wu T'ai Mountain from here?" asked the Master.
"Two thousand miles," said Wen Chi. At daybreak, Wen Chi took some snow and made gruel. Pointing to the contents of the pot he asked, "Do you have this in Nan Hai?"
"No," replied the Master.
"Then what do you people drink there?"
By this time the snow in the pot had melted into water. The beggar pointed to it and said, "Well, then what is this?" The Master was speechless. He did not know what to do.
The Gatha says:
"Do you have this in Nan Hai, friend
or is it not to be found there?
"If not then what is there to drink?"
as the water's cause had ripened.1
"I wish to ask you once again
now just what is this water?"
Although the Master should have answered,
he couldn't say a word.
1The pun here is made on two meanings of the word shu (). It means to ripen, as did the Master's karma for this encounter with the water. Secondly, shu, means to cook. Wen Chi heated the snow so that it became water. An alternate translation reads: "as cooking brought forth the water."