Typically, as a villagers approached, the master would sense a question about to emerge and would issue his first shot of What s that your re eating? Some would scratch
their head and walk away...others might look behind to see if there was someone behind them eating something...a few would ignore the comment as misdirected and present their questions, sticking to their own
On this occasion, a particular villager rose to the challenge, I don't know, what is it?"
You re eating excrement!
There was nothing there of course. He wasn t
really eating anything...at least nothing we would think of as food was passing over his lips. This was a matter of two tigers in a cave...testing each other s mettle.
What do you mean I m eating excrement?
Don t ask what I mean, I'm telling you, you're eating excrement!
Maybe it d be better if I had some soup, the villager responded.
The villager was mocking, but also challenging the master. Not unlike the hunter trying to coax the tiger out of his lair.
It's excrement, don't eat it!
Everyone else eats it.
I see only you. You re eating excrement!
There are worse things to eat aren t there? Everyone else is doing it, it should be OK.
Ah yes, everyone else! Isn t that really who we
hope to be, when you think of it? I m not talking to everyone else. Like everyone else, you come to me seeking wisdom, replied the old master, Listen carefully, this is for your ears, not everyone else s.
You re eating excrement.
As he said this, he looked in anticipation at the villager, almost expecting something profound to happen. An explosion perhaps (he began laughing), perhaps the top of a
head popping off (a silly giggle followed), maybe even a trickle down a pant leg (he wipped the drip from his nose).
I don t understand why you re calling this excrement. How would you know if you haven t tried it.
The old man s eyes rolled heavenward, I can see what is, look carefully, focus, you'll see it for
what it is too.
The villager responded, You know, it actually tastes OK. Can you tell me why I think it tastes OK?
You re eating crap!
Why am I eating crap?
Beats me...I figure you don t know better. But it s all over you, inside and outside, and in your heart and muddling your thoughts...Look there! It s even on the tip of
Why do you think you can figure that out and I can t? Maybe you re too self important for your own good.
I don t know why I can and you can t. That doesn't concern me.
Your question beats me like a stick against the skin of a living drum sitting before you...a sound emerges from the vibration, you don t like what you hear or what the sound represents. To me, it s just a
sound, no sweat off my back! No different than a dog barking...except you take it personally. Why? You re questioning me about eating crap, and my only answer can be...you re eating crap! You are because you
are! You re putting excrement in your mouth. And then you re swallowing it. It s flowing around inside you, and settling in your center for thinking. What a putrid smell!
Shocked and offended, the villager demanded, Does it concern you?
You re asking me! I m answering the questions. You re the drummer, I m the sound. You re the image, I m the emptiness in the
Trying to one up the master, the villager thought for a moment then spoke. It comes in flavors, you know. Of course at this point, old Jou was laughing so hard, his teapot was knocked to
That's crap you re eating. Crap cherry, crap vanilla, crap apple, all crap!
You know, since there's so much demand, and everyone seems to be eating it, I could start selling it.
That s crap on top of excrement...you ve outdone yourself. Why do you tell me! You don t need
my approval, or disapproval. Go ahead and sell it! Be wealthy, accumulate more crap, show it off, wear it, think it, speak it...become it if you will! There s only one choice you have, be crap, or flush the
toilet. Dirty water, clean water, look closely, you ll figure it out soon enough.
I m curious. Does everybody eat crap like I do?
That stuff you re putting into your mouth, chewing,
and swallowing. Even your question. That s excrement!
Is there anything that's not?
Me! (For a moment, Old Jou wiped the smile from his face...staring seriously, as though emphasizing
something important had just been communicated.)
Oh, so you re hot shit! (But...the smile was back soon enough)
No, I am who I am. (Jou clarified , Like Popeye, to which I responded,
No, that s I am what I am, and dat s what I am. )
What might that be? (Jou added parenthetically, In your case it would be Popeye the Sailor Man! He horsechuckled through his nose and half laugh
Wake up! See for yourself. Better stop eating the crap first. It fogs your vision, clouds your thought, obfuscates your senses, obscures your ability to smell, taste and experience. On
top of that, it s grimy as hell, and it stinks to high heaven.
Looking at you, old master, I don t see anything special.
That s a start!
You re speaking riddles!
That s crap!
What kind of wise man are you, you're wasting my time?
Thank you...may I leave?
Not until you tell me what your problem is, said the villager.
The elder looked at the simpleton then like a bolt of lightning reached across the open space separating them and slapped the simpleton's head. You re eating shit you imbecile! Stop eating shit and see what
The perplexed look on the face of the simpleton drew a burst of laughter from the elder.
It almost happened for the simpleton, but not quite.
The gift of
enlightenment is a gift that comes at dear cost...the you whom you value so highly must leave the stage! A sacrifice few are prepared to make, even as truth calls your hand.
The moment having
passed, the opportunity gone, the master, laughing even more robustly, stood, turned away, and set off.
Wait, don't go, I offended you, I apologize, come back, we need you!
Sorry, I won t be part of your diet. It s simply too rich for my taste ( Speak of understatement injected Jou) the elder replied, and laughed even more robustly.
Will you come again?
Never! ...he walked, continuing his laughter, now even further away from the shit eater.
After continuing some distance, the old man turned, Perhaps someday you ll reach your gluttonous
full, and then you ll have no choice but to let it go. With luck, you ll understand, and perhaps even laugh with me.
Laughing back in ridicule (
perhaps hoping to make a final fatal thrust at the wily old tiger), the Villager called out, I Think you re full of shit!"
Hysterical laughter faded in the distance, with the old man s final words, I suppose I deserved that.