The background story of this Koan
Two old Masters are challenging each other.
The asking "monk" is Master Hyakujo, the guy with the fox in Koan 2.
Nansen is the controversial figure who cut the cat in two.
The dialogue starts rather dull, about whether there is any hidden or magical knowledge. A monk asked Nansen: "Is there a teaching no master ever preached before?"
The well-known answer is, there's nothing like spirits or magic in Buddhism.
But surprisingly Nansen said:
"Yes, there is."
Hyakuyo immediately hit's back.
"What is it?" asked the monk.
Nansen response is pure Zen: There's nothing you may think of.
"It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things."
Nansen has won the contest.
But in a longer version of this Koan, Hyakujo responds at the end: "OK, if that's what you teach, so be it."
With this addition the contest ends in a draw and proves that both contestants are true "enlightened" master.
The original Chinese Goang
Because a monk’s question said, "Still, is there a fundamental Dharma that has not been given to people by speaking?"
Quan said, "There is."
The monk said, "So what is the fundamental Dharma that has not been given to people by speaking?"
Nanquan said, "Not this heart-mind; not this Buddha; not these things."
Traditional Commentaries and .... Poems (Gata)
Old Nansen gave away his treasure-words. He must have been greatly upset.
By this person’s one question Nanquan directly was able to weigh and use up the family secrets.
The gentleman doesn't stop flunking.