Fishing with a straight needle



"There was a fisherman in China who for forty years used a straight needle to fish with. When someone asked him, "Why don't you use a bent hook?" The fisherman replied, "You can catch ordinary fish with a bent hook, but I will catch a great fish with my straight needle."

Word of this came to the ear of the Emperor, so he went to see this fool of a fisherman for himself. The Emperor asked the fisherman, "What are you fishing for?"

The fisherman said, "I am fishing for you, Emperor!"

"If you have no experience in fishing with the straight needle, you cannot understand this story. Simply, I am holding my arms on my breast. Like that fisherman with the straight needle, I fish for you good fishes. I do not circulate letters. I do not advertise. I do not ask you to come. I do not ask you to stay. I do not entertain you. You come, and I am living my own life."

-Sokei-an

From Zen Pivots: Lectures on Buddhism and Zen