green ideas, kōan 172.

the guru needed money to prevent the banker from foreclosing on his school, so he asked his friend the tortoise, “do you have any green i could borrow?”

the tortoise thought he was talking about lettuce, which the tortoise had but loved very much. he said, “guru, you and i are great friends, best friends, and if i could help you out, i would, but i cannot. i have no green, as you say. but if there is anything else i could do, i would.”

the guru said there was not, and he left to continue his search.

the tortoise plodded home to his wife, who asked why he looked so glum.

“my friend the guru asked me for lettuce, and of course i turned him down, but i felt guilty, because he is my good friend, and he seemed to need it very much.”

the tortoise’s wife put a foot on his shell and said, “he asked for lettuce. he knew how much that meant to you. he should not have asked a friend to part with something so dear to him. you are a good tortoise and a good friend, and you have nothing to feel guilty about.”

“i know,” the tortoise said. “i just wish he had asked for something we had plenty of, like money.”