When Nanquan Puyuan found the monks at his temple quarrelling over a cat, he grabbed it up and said, “If one of you can say a word, the cat will live. Otherwise, I’m going to kill it.”
The monks were so surprised that their master would even talk about breaking the precept against taking life that they were stunned into silence. None was able to say a word, and Nanquan cut the cat in two.
Nanquan’s chief disciple, Zhaozhou Congshen, had been absent when these events took place. He returned to find his fellow monks bewildered by their teacher’s behavior, and, when Zhoazhou went to see his master, Nanquan related what had occurred. Without saying a word, Zhoazhou took off one of his sandals, placed it on his head, and left the room.
“If you’d been there,” Nanquan called after him, “the cat would have lived!”
[Nanquan Puyuan – Zen Masters of China: 128, 137, 164-69, 178]