As we merely passing by here,
what matters is what we leave behind –
in terms of our words and deeds.
Master Han Shan was one of the four great masters of the late Ming dynasty. Once, while travelling, he lost his way and after walking for some time through a night as black as lacquer, he at last saw a light. Focusing his eyes, he saw that it was a family home. He was delighted and quickly knocked on the door, asking for lodging for the night.
The householder heard his request and with an expressionless face refused, saying, ‘Sorry, please find somewhere else. My house is not an inn!’ The master smiled and said, ‘You have it wrong. Your house is indeed an inn! I just need you to answer three questions honestly and I can prove that your house is an inn.’ The householder said, ‘I don’t believe you! But if you can persuade me, I’ll let you in.’
The master then asked, ‘Who lived here before you?’ The householder replied, ‘My father!’ ‘Then, who was the householder before your esteemed father?’ ‘My grandfather!’ ‘And if you, young master, pass on, who will become the householder then?’ ‘My son!’
Master Han Shan laughed and said, ‘There you are, you see! You are only living here temporarily, and everybody is a traveller like me.’ The householder reckoned that he made sense and asked him in. The master spent a comfortable night there.
Chinese Zen: A Path To Peace And Happiness
Wu Yansheng (Translated By Tony Blishen)