The scholar Fayan Wenyi, after completing his academic studies, undertook a tour of the major Buddhist centers then current in China. He had not intended to visit Zen Master Luohan Chichen, but, as it happened, a rain storm drove him to seek shelter at Luohan’s temple. Not much comfort was found in the old temple which was in such poor repair that the rain and wind came unimpeded through the walls and rafters; however, Luohan made his guest as welcome as possible under the circumstances, then asked him, “Where are you going to in this weather?”
Fayen was wandering from place to place with no particular itinerary. So he answered truthfully, “I don’t know.”
“Not knowing is the better way,” Luohan said.
Fayen was unsure what the teacher meant by that remark, and he decided to stay with Luohan for a while. During the formal meetings between teacher and student, Fayen would often reply to Luohan’s questions with quotations from the Avatamsaka Sutra which he had studied extensively. Luohan dismissed these replies, telling Fayen, “That isn’t the teaching of the Buddha.”
Eventually, Fayen had exhausted all that he had thought he had learned as a result of his studies, and, in despair, he told Luohan, “I’ve nothing left, neither words nor concepts.”
“In the true Buddhist understanding,” Luohan told him, “all things present themselves.”
[Luohan Chichen – Zen Masters of China: 259]