the tortoise fund, part iii: the banker is confused, kōan 383.

when the tortoises founded their fund, they needed money, so they went to the banker, and mrs tortoise told him, “we need money.”

the banker said, “money for what.”

“money for tortoises.”

“you’re going to buy tortoises?”

“no, we’re going to give it to tortoises.”

“give what to tortoises?”

“the money.”

“in exchange for what?”

“nothing.”

“then why are you giving it to them?”

“because they need it.”

“well, of course they need it. it’s money!”

“and they don’t have much of it.”

“that’s what makes it so valuable.”

“and they’re going to starve without it.”

“yes, exactly!”

“so, you’ll give us the money?”

“why would i?”

“if you did, tortoises everywhere would love you. when you walked around the village, and you saw a tortoise–”

“they’d give me money?”

“no. they’d say thank you.”

“do tortoises have a particular way of saying thank you that involves the exchange of money?”

“no.”

“i feel like i’m not understanding something here.”

“explain it to us, and we’ll tell you what you missed.”

“you want me to give you money for nothing so that you can give it to other tortoises, also for nothing.”

“that’s correct.”

“get out of my bank.”

so they left.