Case 9 never ends, yet now comes ...
CASE 10 - Joshu See Through The Old Woman
So, this mountain called Mt. Taizan is still very famous in China as a religious pilgrimage site, said to be the place where lives the Bodhisattva Manjusri (a Bodhisattva of Wisdom). Monks would come to a crossroads near the old woman's tea shop and ask directions to the mountain. She would reply "Straight ahead". When the monks would then set off straight ahead down the road, toward the mountain, she would say something like, "Is that what you think it is about?".
So, we walk ahead diligently, straight ahead ... but where will we truly find what we are looking for? On some touristy mountain? In the next book we read or youtube talk we watch? In the tea shop? At the crossroads? In the monk? All of the foregoing, and no place at all? Where does Manjusri really live?
So Joshu goes to check out the old lady, and says he sees her "through and through". Does that mean that he has seen her for a charlatan? A Zen poser (like those folks all over the internet who engage in "Zen Speak" and cheesy imitation "Dharma Combat")? Or, "poser" or not, in seeing "through and through" has he seen right through the lady, no lady to see, and thus straight ahead into Joshu and she him? Has he seen everyone and everything, and no place at all? Has he seen clear straight through to Manjusri and the mountain?
QUESTION - On your spiritual searches, where are you looking? Are you looking in the right places? Where do you think the mountain and Manjusri are to be found?
One other thing nice to mention about Koans like this is the respectful, central place it appears to give a gifted lay person, even a woman! (That was quite something in the Ordained Priest dominated, "man's world" of traditional Chinese society back then).