Higher

The Master saw the Student bewildered. Apparently, the Client complained that the temple construction being supervised by the Student is not going according to spec.

“I don’t get it,” the Student sighed, “the specs are right here; they are clear, complete, and in black and white. How can he tell me that I’m not following the specs?”

The Master replied “I will answer your question, but first you must help me hang a portrait. I am old and frail, and do not have the strength to put a portrait up a wall.”

When they reached the Master’s dwelling, the Master began giving instructions. “I need it to be about this high. Around the height of my eyes,” she said.

The Student started to move the portrait up and down while listening to the Master’s feedback. An hour has passed, and the Student still saw dissatisfaction in the Master’s face. Concerned that he wasn’t doing a good job, he asked “you still ask me to put the portrait higher. Isn’t the portrait high enough?”

The Master shook his head, stamped her foot, and growled “higher!”

“But Master,” the Student stammered, “the portrait is almost at the ceiling! I can’t put it up any higher.”

“I didn’t tell you to increase the height at which you place the portrait,” the Master retorted.

The Student–visibly confounded–pleadingly asked “then what was it that you wanted me to do?”

“When the portrait was too low, you said ‘higher.’ When the portrait was near the height of your eyes, you said ‘yes, but a little bit higher.’ When the portrait was a bit over the height of your eyes, you said ‘no, go back higher.’ When the portrait was too far away from the agreed on height, you said ‘no, I want it higher!’ and this time more vigorously. I don’t understand what you mean when you say ‘higher’!”

Suddenly, the Student was enlightened.