One morning, Hongren and Mazu the nine-fingered disciple sat side by side at the banks of a lotus pond in silent meditation. Slowly, Hongren began to hum. The humming grew in volume, until Hongren’s entire throat began to vibrate in sympathetic resonance. Gradually, the sound of the humming subsided, until they were once again sitting in perfect silence at the banks of the lotus pond.
Finally, Hongren spoke.
“When you feel the need to defecate, do you defecate?”
“Yes, master,” replied Mazu.
“Then the Buddha is a misshapen turnip!”
At this point, Hongren took a sip of tea.