Hyakujo depended more on simple dialogue. His contribution is that he did not behave like a mad Zen master, he behaved very normally. He has brought Zen from the mountains to the marketplace. Naturally he has to behave according to the manners of the market. So the questions all are stupid. Each question needs a good hit.
To answer, what Hyakujo has replied is that they are concurrent causes. They appear to be very close but they are not one. They can go separate ways; there is nothing to hinder them. Mind can remain empty without thoughts because thoughts are not intrinsically part, of the mind. They come and go; you know they go on coming and going. Your mind is simply a caravanserai in which they stay for a while.
In your whole life how many thoughts have passed in your mind? Exactly the same as the water that has passed down the Ganges. Every mind is concurrent with a flowing river of thoughts.
His answer is so clear that to ask him, “What is this mind which lies beyond words and speech?” is absolutely nonsense. He has said, “It is not mind and there is no relationship between speech, and words, and mind.” They are two separate phenomena running together at close distance but never meeting. Because it is beyond mind and beyond words and speech, a man of understanding would not have asked, “What is this mind…?” because any answer will be words and speech.
This mind cannot be spoken. This mind can be felt, this mind can be experienced. If the man had asked how to experience this mind which is beyond words and speech, just that simple difference would have made a great difference. That would have proved that the man is really a man of genius. He understands that something that is beyond words and speech and you are not supposed to ask any question about what it is, because you are forcing the other person to bring something which is beyond speech into speech, beyond words into words.
But Hyakujo was very patient, had to be, because he is working in the marketplace not in a Zen monastery, not amongst authentic seekers but amongst casual inquirers. And one sometimes simply wonders and laughs….
I have been touring this country for thirty years or more. I have found people…
I was going to catch a train. The train stopped for only ten minutes and somebody was holding my hand and saying, “Just tell me, what is truth?”
I said, “It will take a little time and I will miss my train. It is not something that I can give you right now. It will need a certain background within you, then only can I indicate to you what is truth. That cannot be done while my train is moving. Just let me go.”
I have found people on the streets. They will stop, they will say, “We don’t have much time to meditate but can you just tell us in short what is meditation?” All over the world there are such people who are in a hurry and want the ultimate experience in their hurry, in their haste.