A disciple approached Master Wall, and asked: “Master, we have been taught to learn from our peers, and I have strived to do so, yet, have not received Enlightenment. What should I do?” Master Wall, who was tending to his garden at the time, took a good look at the Disciple and said: “You can learn mastering the art of Tea from me. Come!” – and with that, he turned away, towards his harvest.
From that day onward, the disciple woke before Master Wall, and went to sleep after him, watching him with utmost attention, writing down every detail he observed, and reviewing and learning the steps of the harvest each night. This went on for some time, until the disciple’s notes started to weigh a book, and it became heavy to carry, so he started to leave older pages home when he came to visit Master Wall.
At one point, the Master told the Disciple: “You’ve been taking many notes, you’ve observed throughly the way I work. You’ve seen my mistakes, how I corrected them, how I started again and when. You’ve seen my triumphs, tasted my tea. It is now time to show me what you’ve learned!”
The disciple then turned to his notes, and tried to follow in the very footsteps of Master Wall. But when the master saw this, he slapped the disciple on the neck: “I’ve told you to show me what you have learned, not what you have written down. I see you are not ready yet.” With that, he pushed the disciple away and finished his work for the day.
The disciple went home, saddened, disappointed, but filled with enthusiasm to do better and not let down Master Wall again. He studied harder, practised the techniques he saw, and eventually, he became confident that he learned his lesson, that he can make excellent tea. So he approached Master Wall, with a cup of tea in his hand, and said: “Master, I have learnt much, practised the art, followed your lead and prepared this cup of tea, just as I saw you do it.”
Master Wall took the cup, tasted it: “Good.” – and slapped the disciple on the neck again. “You make fine tea, but you were a master at it the first time too. Yet, neither then, nor now did you show me what you have learnt.”
Puzzled, the disciple retired to his home, thought long and hard about what the Master said, and went back to his garden the next day. He helped the master with the harvest, and at noon, after finishing their meal, Master Wall went to prepare some tea, and the disciple followed him.
This is when the Disciple saw that Master Wall was about to make a mistake, so he stopped the master’s hand, and said: “Master Wall, blending that additive into the Tea will not result in such a good taste!”
Master Wall smiled, and the student was enlightened.