Zen master Mazu was a famous eminent monk in Wutai Mountain in the Tang Dynasty. He liked to raise some disciples in the way of “making trouble” to help them enlighten.
Once, Zen master Mazu moved a rattan chair and sat on the path at the back door of the temple reading. Before long, the apprentice little monk came back from the vegetable garden with a car. Because the road was too narrow, Zen master Mazu put his feet in the middle of the road. The little monk asked his master to retract his legs so that he could push the cart by himself. Unexpectedly, Zen master Mazu said, “I’ve always only stretched out.”
Xiao Heshang was stunned and said in embarrassment, “master, if you don’t retract your feet, I can’t go back to the temple.”
Zen master Mazu didn’t even lift his eyelids and said, “that’s your business.” the little monk thought and said, “master, you are a person who only stretches and doesn’t shrink, so I can’t break your feet? Why don’t we change, I’ll sit on the chair and you can push the cart!”
Zen master Mazu became interested and changed his position with his apprentice. The little monk also straightened his feet, but just as Zen master Mazu pushed the car to press him, the little monk retracted his feet. Zen master Mazu asked, “why did you retract your feet?”
The little monk smiled and said, “master, you only stretch, but I can bend and stretch, so I took my feet back.”
The little monk pushed the car away. Zen master Mazu looked at his back and laughed. Many years later, Zen master Mazu passed on the mantle to the little monk, the later eminent monk, Zen master Yinfeng of Wutai Mountain.