Shiji Doesn’t Take Off Her Hat

The monk Jinhua Juzhi lived in a remote hermitage and begged for his food among the villagers. One rainy night a nun named Shiji came to his hut. She walked right in without knocking and she did not take off her sedge rain hat. She circled around his meditation seat three times, holding up her traveling staff.

     “Give me one word,” she said, “and I’ll take off my hat.”
     Juzhi said nothing.
     She circled around him three more times, and asked the same question, but he had nothing to say. And again, she circled around him, asked her question, and he said nothing.
     As she went to the door, he said, “Wait! It’s late. Why don’t you stay here for the night?”
     Shiji said, “If you say the appropriate word, I’ll stay.”
     Again, Juzhi was speechless.
     The nun walked out.
     Juzhi sighed and said, “Although I inhabit the body of a man, I lack a man’s spirit.” He resolved to leave his hermitage in search of understanding.

After the 2016 presidential election in the United States I found a lot of people who were stunned, upset, and even traumatized. My own reaction was of dismay, and it took a few days before my feelings of shock and horror subsided enough to think about what it meant and how to react. It’s taken even longer for me to speak and respond publicly. Continue reading “Shiji Doesn’t Take Off Her Hat”