The Novice Monk Thinks About the Tiger

A Zen master on Mount Wutai once took on a disciple who was only three years old at the time. Mount Wutai is extremely high, and the master and disciple practiced on the summit, never descending the mountain. After more than ten years, the master and the disciple descended the mountain together. The young monk saw cows, horses, chickens, and dogs but didn’t know what they were.

The master pointed and told him, “This is a cow, used for plowing fields. This is a horse, used for riding. These are chickens and dogs, used for crowing, and guarding doors.” The young monk listened respectfully.

After a while, a young girl walked by, and the young monk asked in amazement, “And what is this?” The master, to prevent him from being tempted, solemnly told him, “This is a tiger. If a person approaches her, they will definitely be bitten to death, and not even their bones will remain.” The young monk listened respectfully.

Returning to the mountain in the evening, the master asked, ‘Of all the things you saw today at the foot of the mountain, was there anything that still lingered in your mind?’

The young monk replied, ‘I don’t think about anything else; I only think of that man-eating tiger. It’s always on my mind and I can’t forget it.'”

Translated from《沙彌思老虎》in 《子不語》: