Chapter 4: Twisted Nose
“They are wild geese, sir,” said Hyakujo.
Here he missed. He should have responded to the question without thinking of any consequences.
“Where are they?” - the master gave him another chance - asked the master. “They have flown away, sir,” replied Hyakujo.
He is just functioning on the mental level.
Ma Tzu suddenly took hold of Hyakujo’s nose and twisted it. Overcome with pain, Hyakujo cried out. Ma Tzu said, “You say they have flown away, but all the same they have been here from the very beginning.”
Where can they go? They have always been here and will be here. The here is vast enough - wherever they are, they are in the here. They cannot go out of the here. That’s what he was expecting from Hyakujo. But he had to take Hyakujo by his nose and twist the nose to make him aware that he was functioning through the mind. And the mind can only bring pain; the mind is pain.
Ma Tzu’s twisting the nose of Hyakujo and giving him tremendous pain so that he cried out - don’t take it superficially, don’t take it as it appears on the surface. This crying out was not out of the mind. This crying out came as the spontaneous response of his whole being. At this moment the master could speak to him. He was in the right space now; he was no more in the mind, his whole being was awake because of the pain.
Pain has a tremendous value in awakening. Pain has been used by many masters to awaken the sleeping disciple. All your old religions, on the contrary, console the disciple and help him to sleep well - God is in heaven and everything is okay on the earth, you don’t be worried! But Zen is not at all interested in consoling you. It is interested in awakening you.
When Hyakujo cried out, Ma Tzu did not say a single word of sympathy. He did not give any explanation, why he had twisted his nose. On the contrary he said, “You say they have flown away, but all the same they have been here from the very beginning.”
In that moment there was no thought except pain. The mind was empty, the nose was hurting - and Ma Tzu did not care about the nose or the pain; he simply stated a tremendously meaningful statement, that nobody, nothing, can go away out of here. Here is immense and vast, so is now. Wherever they are, they are here.
Hyakujo was now in a right state to understand the meaning of the master - that everything is always here. Those wild geese were just an excuse to explain to Hyakujo that nothing moves, nothing goes anywhere.
At that moment Hyakujo attained enlightenment.