Here’s what I love about those stories:
The bumbling student asks a question— I picture him with a cap in his hands,eager and earnest, twisting it in nervous circles. The master answers him and the reply is often enigmatic and offered with no fanfare at all,in a querulous, impatient voice. Not what the shaken student expected of wisdom, to be delivered in irritation.
But then (and this is my favorite part) the student leaves, wanders forests, contemplates waterfalls and mountains and flowers, returns to his house or his shop, holding all he’s been told, until he discovers wisdom in himself by solving the puzzle set before him. Until he convinces himself that the master was tricky but wise.
I do it every day. Convince myself about this life, always pushed off kilter a few degrees, not quite what I expected or aimed at or planned on. I hear myself over and over say Ah, this is perfect for me, and in saying it, make it so.