A man set out on a journey to sit at the feet of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, who lived on a far mountain. It was a long journey and he was an old man, and it took him many months before the mountain even was in view. Upon seeing it, he stopped and asked an old woman working in a field how many days away the mountain was.
The old woman looked at him a moment, then went back to her work. Assuming she was hard of hearing, he asked her the same question in a louder tone of voice. Again she looked at him without speaking and then went back to her work.
Shrugging his shoulders, the man assumed that she was nearly deaf, and began again to walk toward the mountain. He had scarcely walked a dozen or so steps when he heard the old woman behind him say, "Two days! You will reach the mountain in two days."
Turning back to her angrily, the man said, "I had thought you were deaf. Why did you not answer my question when I asked it?"
The old woman shook her head. "When you asked the question you were standing still. How could I know how long it would take you to reach the mountain if I did not know how quickly you would walk, or with what resolve?"