‘Once a monk on pilgrimage met an old woman living alone in a hut. The monk asked, “Do you have any relatives?”
She said, “Yes.”
The monk asked, “Where are they?”
She answered, “The mountains, rivers, and the whole earth, the plants and trees, are all my relatives.”‘
In Florence Caplow’s commentary (all of which is worth reading), she says, ‘The Zen stories are quite clear: if you want to truly meet a teacher, you have to ask a question… You must understand that is is the asking that matters, not the answer. Because every real asking, every real meeting comes from the place where the Buddha glimmers in the depths. In the asking is the answerer, and in the answer is the asker. And in the meeting of the two, there are mountains, rivers, and the whole earth.’
I would perhaps add that the monk’s question may not have been that fierce, but the woman’s answer came from the depths.