Ch’an Master Lin-chi was about to take leave of his teacher Ch’an Master Huang-po. The latter asked him, "Where are you going?"
"Either to Henan or to Hepei, "Lin-chi answered.
Huang-po immediately slapped him. Grabbing the teacher Lin-chi slapped him back. Although he had been struck, Huang-po laughed heartily and said to his attendant in a loud voice, "Go and get the late Master Pai-chang’s Ch’an board and sutra stand for me.
Lin-chi also called out, " Bring some fire too."
Huang-po turned to Lin-chi and said, "Although I said this the fire will not burn. Just go as you wish. Only you’ll have to keep the people of the whole world quiet."
Later, when Ch’an Master Kuei-shan Ling-yu discussed this incident with Yang-shan , he asked, "Did Lin-chi insult his teacher Huang-po by his behavior?"
"No not really" Yang-shan replied.
"Would you please explain?" Implored Kuei-shan.
"By slapping Huang-po Ling-chi actually acknowledged his teacher's kindness to him. Only those who acknowledge a kindness will requite it." Yang-shan explained.
Do you know any such examples among sages or virtuous individuals in ancient times?" asked Kuei-shan.
"Yes I do. But since they are from the distant past I won't repeat them to you."
"But I’ve never heard of them. Please tell me " urged Kuei-shan.
"All right. In the Surangama Sutra, Ananda praised the Buddha pledging ‘I’m willing to offer my utter devotion to as many nations and people as there are dust particles.' This is called 'requiting the Buddha’s kindnesses' and is an example from ancient times.
"Indeed, " Kuei-shan said agreeably.
"If a disciple has only as much knowledge and experience as the master this will decrease the master’s virtues when the disciple tries to pass the teachings on. Only when one surpasses one’s teacher will one be able to impart fully the teacher’s wisdom."
In the Ch’an School the teaching methods that had been passed on from Master Huang-po and Lin-chi belonged to the Lin-chi School, while those from Master Kuei-shan and Yang-shan belonged to the Kuei-yang School. These masters were all first and second generation disciples of Ch’an Master Pai-chang. Although Kuei-shan (771-853C.E.) was five years older than Huang-po (776-856C.E.)
sixteen years older than Lin-chi and belonged to a different school he always held these two masters in high esteem. This is what is known as being magnanimous virtuous and enlightened.