There is a Zen koan titled, “The Giver Should Be Thankful” which has always stuck with me since I first heard it. It goes like this:
Seisetsu was the master of a Temple.
He required larger quarters, since those in which he was teaching were overcrowded. Umezu, a local merchant, decided to donate five hundred pieces of gold called ryo toward the construction of a bigger school.
This money he brought to the teacher.
Seisetsu said: “All right. I will take it.”
Umezu gave Seisetsu the sack of gold, but he was dissatisfied with the attitude of the teacher.
One might live a whole year on three ryo, and the merchant had not even been thanked for five hundred.
“In that sack are five hundred ryo,” hinted Umezu.
“You told me that before,” replied Seisetsu.
“Even if I am a wealthy merchant, five hundred ryo is a lot of money,” said Umezu.
“Do you want me to thank you for it?” asked Seisetsu.
“You ought to,” replied Uzemu.
Why should I?” inquired Seisetsu. “The giver should be thankful.”
Perhaps this makes absolutely no sense to you at this point. If that is the case, you’re not alone. The purpose of a koan is to confuse people. One of the most common one’s is: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”