One day a travelling Zen master came upon a hermit’s cell. It was a bitterly cold night and he asked of the hermit; “may I tarry a while?”
The hermit agreed and boiled some rice, for them both to share.
Sat on their mats a ball of string fell out of the Zen master’s cloak and the hermit noticed.
The hermit asked the Zen master; “Why, venerable one, do you carry this ball of string?”
The Zen master replied, “Mind is a labyrinth and to enter in without a string, is to be lost forever. It is wise to carry string.”
The hermit asked the master; “Is your Zen, better than mine?”
Even though the gate was opened, the Zen master walked out into the storm, though his belly sorely missed the rice he might have eaten.