There was a master called Sakito. He was also called Stonehead – partly because of his smoothly shaven head, and partly because he loved to sit in meditation on a large rock on the side of a mountain.
One day, a disciple came to Ma Tsu, another master, and said, “I shall go and challenge master Sakito.”
Ma Tsu replied, “Be careful. The path of the Stonehead is slippery.”
But the disciple waved a staff and said, “I carry the stick of an acrobat.”
The disciple made it to Sakito who was, as usual, sitting on his rock. He stood in front of Sakito, waved his stick in the air and gave a loud shout. Then he addressed Sakito, “Now tell me, what is the essence of what I have done?”
Sakito, who had barely moved or changed his expression, just said, “How sad, how sad.”
The disciple had no answer for this, so he left and went back to Ma Tsu and reported the entire incident.
Ma Tsu told the disciple, “Go back and do the same thing. Then, when he says, ‘how sad, how sad’, you start crying.”
So the disciple went back and did the exact same thing. But when he asked the question, Sakito put both hands on his face and started to cry.
The disciple was again left with no response, so he went back to Ma Tsu to report.
Ma Tsu smiled and said, “I told you. The path of the Stonehead is slippery.”