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Chapter 4: Twisted Nose

Seeing the point, the eternity and the wideness of now and here, he immediately fell into the emptiness of his heart and realized the truth. In an instant something was triggered in him by what Ma Tzu was saying, which Zen calls enlightenment. He became aware of his own hereness, of his own nowness. The wild geese were just an excuse.

But such anecdotes have never happened anywhere else. They have no parallel, hence the difficulty of understanding them. They are anecdotes on the path of meditation. Only people of the path who have gone deep into meditation will be able to understand something which looks absolutely absurd as far as reason is concerned.

The nose has nothing to do with attainment, otherwise it would be very easy. The disciple simply comes, gets a twisted nose, becomes enlightened and goes home. And Ma Tzu would not twist the nose of any disciple, any xyz.

Hyakujo is ready. It is just a push. He is just on the boundary line, where anything can push him just that one single step inwards. It is such a great statement, that there is no time and there is no space - here is the only space and now is the only time.

And it is not applicable only to the wild geese, it is applicable to you, to everything - the great statement and the silent watchfulness. Awakened by the twisted nose, Hyakujo attained enlightenment.

The next day, at a regular assembly, Ma Tzu had hardly sat down when Hyakujo came to roll up his mat, which made the master descend from the platform. Hyakujo followed him into his room.
Ma Tzu said, “Just now, before I had begun my sermon, what made you roll up my mat?”
Hyakujo said, “Yesterday your reverence twisted my nose and I felt acute pain.”
“Where did you apply your mind yesterday?” Ma Tzu asked.
All that the disciple said was, “I feel no more pain in the nose today.”
Thereupon the master commented, “You have profoundly understood yesterday’s episode.”

This is a little more subtle than the first episode. Usually the Zen master gives the sermon and the chief disciple, when the sermon is over, rolls up the mat on which he was sitting and takes the mat to his room. But in this case Hyakujo came to roll up his mat, which made the master descend from the platform. Hyakujo followed him into his room.

He has not even uttered a single word. Hyakujo has become an enlightened master himself. Yesterday’s experience.Now he is responding the way a master responds; he is saying, by rolling up the mat, “Now I don’t need any sermon. All I needed, I got yesterday.”

Ma Tzu said, “Just now, before I had begun my sermon, what made you roll up my mat?”

Hyakujo said, “Yesterday your reverence twisted my nose and I felt acute pain.”

“Where did you apply your mind yesterday?”

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