When Fayan first came to Wuzu Temple, Yuanwu was working there as temple manager.
At that time a new kitchen was slated to be built around where a beautiful old tree stood.
Fayan said, “Even though the tree is in the way, please don’t cut it down.”
Yuanwu cut down the tree.
When Fayan heard this, he picked up his staff and chased after Yuanwu.
Yuanwu, dodging to avoid flashing blows from the staff, suddenly experienced great enlightenment.
He cried out, “This is the way of Old Linji!”
Fayan stopped short. Yuanwu grabbed his staff and threw it onto the ground, shouting, “Oh yes, I recognize you now, you old thief!”
Fayan laughed and walked away.
After this, Fayan gave his permission for Yuanwu to give Dharma talks to the other monks.