Chapter 2: The Great Pearl
On the death of his master, Basho went to Edo - now Tokyo - where he studied verse under Kigin. He then became a disciple of the Zen master, Buccho.
Basho’s fame as a master poet spread. He began to attract disciples of his own.
Journeying became Basho’s life-style, providing him with a chance to observe and write of nature, with which he felt such a deep affinity.
He once wrote, “All who achieve greatness in art possess one thing in common: they are one with nature. Whatever such a mind sees is a flower, and whatever such a mind dreams of is the moon. It is only a barbarous mind that sees other things then flowers, merely an animal mind that dreams of other than the moon.”
The flower and the moon are only symbolic. What he is intending to say is that the really silent mind can only see the greatest in existence, the most beautiful, the most truthful. He can see only flowers and moons. In his status, in his height, he cannot see the mean and ugly things of which the human mind is so filled up. He calls this mind, which has not known the experience of emptiness, a barbarous mind - a beautiful definition of a barbarous mind.
The mind of a buddha will only see flowers all around. The mind of a buddha reclining will see the moon and the stars and all that is beautiful in the darkness of the night. Whether it is morning or evening, it does not matter, the no-mind only reflects the most precious, and the so-called mind that we have is only concerned with the ugliest - it is barbarous.
When Hyakujo returned to Yueh Chou, he lived a retired life, concealing his abilities and outwardly appearing somewhat mad. It was at this time that he composed his shastra, called, “A Treatise Setting Forth the Essential Gateway to Truth by Means of Instantaneous Awakening.”
Later, this book was stolen and brought to the Yangtze region and shown to Ma Tzu. After reading it carefully, Ma Tzu declared to his disciples: “In Yueh Chou there is now a great pearl. Its luster penetrates everywhere freely and without obstruction.”
Ma Tzu was making a pun on Hyakujo’s original surname of Chu. Hyakujo was Ma Tzu’s disciple and finally his successor.
Maneesha has asked these sutras for today:
On one occasion Hyakujo said, “If we are attached to a viewpoint that we are naturally the buddhas and that we are in Zen Buddhism because we are originally pure and enlightened, we are among non-Buddhists who deny causality.”