Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!
A young nun—a novice—said to master Kaimu, “I have heard tell of the Six Unwelcome Hosts, but my eyes have not yet been opened.”
The master hooked a myna-bird’s cage onto the top of a long staff and gave that to the novice. Next he wrote something on a slip of paper, blew on it until the ink was dry, and gave this to the novice also, saying: “On the scroll are the names of five houses in the village. When night falls, fetch your empty bowl and beg rice from each house in turn. Take the bird with you. Consider what you see and hear.”
When the novice came to the first house and presented her bowl, the man filled it with white grains and closed his door. The myna-bird sang: “No rice, no radish, no morsel within; you’d be wise to eat with your fingers.” Poking at the grains, the novice discovered to her horror that they were not rice at all, but small white maggots. She dumped them on the grass and washed the bowl in a nearby stream until her fingers were numb with cold.
When the novice came to the second house and presented her bowl, the man there said “I have no rice” and closed his door. The myna-bird sang: “No rice, no radish, no morsel within; his mice have perished from want.”
When the novice came to the third house and presented her bowl, the man there said “No rice,” lit a lantern and closed his door. The myna-bird sang: “See the red banner under the lantern; that bastard has plenty of rice, but will not feed a stranger.”
When the novice came to the fourth house and presented her bowl, the man there threw it into the bushes and closed his door. The myna-bird sang: “You might have caught it if you’d tried, but still you would leave hungry.”
When the novice came to the fifth house and presented her bowl, the man placed it upside-down upon the stone threshold, ground it to splinters beneath his heel and slammed his door in anger. The myna-bird was silent.
Returning to master Kaimu, the novice said, “My eyes have been opened to five Unwelcome Hosts.”
“Name them,” commanded the master.
“Bug, failure-value, flag, exception, exit,” replied the novice.
The master nodded.
“But what of the sixth?” asked the novice.
The master said, “Take an empty bowl to the grave of master Mugen. When the dead master either fills it or turns you away, the Sixth Unwelcome Host will have come and gone.”
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*Some textures in illustrations courtesy of FantasyStock.