Chapter 3: In Search of a Lost Treasure
The Great Pearl’s treatise on sudden enlightenment was written before he actually had any disciples - in the period described as “when he lived a retired life, concealing his abilities and outwardly appearing somewhat mad.” Even though the book is written in the style of a dialogue, Hyakujo composed the questions as well as the answers himself so that he could explain his points in the manner he wished.
The question was asked of Hyakujo: “There is a sutra which says that not to perceive anything in terms of being or non-being is true deliverance.”
“There is a sutra which says that not to perceive anything in terms of being or non-being is true deliverance. What does that mean?”
Hyakujo responded: “When we attain to purity of mind, that is something which can be said to exist. When this happens, our remaining free from any thought of achievement is called not perceiving anything as existent. Reaching the state in which no thoughts arise or persist, yet without being conscious of their absence, is called not perceiving anything as non-existent.
“The Surangama sutra says, perceptions employed as a base for building up possible concepts are the origin of all ignorance. Perception that there is nothing to perceive - that is nirvana, also known as deliverance.”
A question was asked, “What is the meaning of the phrase ‘nothing to perceive’?”
Hyakujo, even before becoming a master, has already become enlightened. It is not necessary for every enlightened being to become a master. Most of the enlightened beings have remained silent, for the simple reason, that to say the truth is to annoy the whole world. And not to say the truth, one feels like one has betrayed oneself.
The situation of an enlightened man is a very difficult situation. He has all the blessings, and all the joys, but there is a problem: he cannot communicate it to those who are moving in darkness, in blindness. And the trouble is, with enlightenment arises great compassion and love spontaneously. So the enlightened person tries to help in every possible way, creates devices, even tells lies to help you to come to the truth.
Very few enlightened people are articulate, because that is a totally different expertise. So they remain silent, although their silence becomes heavy on them. They become sad because they cannot communicate. They know the truth, and that somebody is searching for it, but they cannot even indicate the way. They feel helpless.
A few people who became enlightened remained silent for a few years, just pondering over the problem of communion. That was the case with Hyakujo. He became enlightened, and waited for the right moment when he had found the right words, the right devices which can help somebody.