From earliest times thinkers must have perceived that on the one hand they could not think without words; on the other hand, words expressed only half the whole truth.
– Frederick Franck (Zen and Zen Classics)
Ryokan-san’s Hiding Spot
Ryokan was playing hide-and-seek, and when it came his turn to hide, he looked around for a spot where the children wouldn't flnd him. Noticing a tall haystack, he crawled inside, concealing himself completely in the hay. No matter how hard they searched, the children couldn't flnd him. Soon they grew tired of playing, the sun began to set, and when they saw the smoke rising from the dinner fires, they deserted Ryokan and returned to their homes. Unaware of this, Ryokan imagined the children were still searching for him. Thinking, “Here they come to look for me!" “Now they're going to find me!" he waited and waited. He waited all night and was still waiting when dawn arrived. In farmhouses, in the morning, the kitchen hearth is lit with bundles of hay, and when the farmer's daughter came to fetch some of these, she was startled to flnd Ryokan hiding in the haystack. "Ryokan! What in the world are you doing here?" she cried. "Shhh!" Ryokan warned her, "the children will flnd me!"
I love Ryokan-san’s child mind.