‘Chu Kokushi, teacher of the emperor, called Oshin, his attendant.
Oshin answered, “Yes.”
To test him, the master called again, “Oshin.”
Oshin replied, “Yes.”
Once again Chu Kokushi called “Oshin.”
And once again, Oshin replied, “Yes.”
Chu Kokushi then said, “I guess I ought to apologize to you, but really you should apologize to me.”‘(Mumonkan , case 17)
From Nyogen Senzaki’s commentary in Eloquent Silence: ‘In this koan, the teacher is like an old man, and wants to make sure of the attainment of his disciple, like an old woman who checks the lock on the door two or three times before she leaves the house. Oshin, the disciple, joins the teacher’s efforts, and answers his calls again and again. Is it not a beautiful picture of beloved ones? If you want to learn Zen, you must understand how to give in.’
I would perhaps add, similarly to yesterday: Can you say it? Once, twice ,three times – which is right?