Before two gates stands one gatekeeper on guard. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who is searching for the Way. On each gate it is transcribed, “The Way is the Way and the gate that is the Way is not the gate that is not the Way”. From the scriptures, the man recalls that a gatekeeper before the Way, will grant an answer to one yes-no question. And that whether or not the gatekeeper speaks the truth depends on the flip of a coin hidden in his brain: if the coin comes down heads, he speaks truly; if tails, falsely. The gatekeeper with his hooded yellow robe and long grey beard, offers the man a stool allowing him to sit and think before the gates. The man deliberates about what question to asked and he is overcome with frustration, for he remembers that the gatekeepers only speak in their native tongue. The words for yes and no are ‘dui’ and ‘shi’, in some order but the man does not know which word means which. The man has come so far and he will not turn back. There he sits for days and years. He often thinks he has come up with the question, but he always finds a flaw. During the long years the man studies the patterns in the gates and compares them to curls in the gatekeepers beard. He becomes convinced that the answer is hidden in these configurations and mutters to himself the intricate theories he has concocted. He becomes old and senile and curses the gatekeeper. Finally, he beckons the gatekeeper to bend down, since the man has become too weak to move and can scarcely speak. The gatekeeper bends down to hear him and the man whispers a question in the gatekeepers ear. The gatekeeper looks astonished, he flips his coin, considers the question for a minute, he smiles and replies ‘shi’. The man stands for the first time in many years; he has lost all strength and he falls to his knees. But he has found the Way. He crawls to the gate on the right and enters.
What question did the man ask?