But he was a unique man, unique in the sense that he was not ready to postpone any longer. When he came to Huineng, only a little – just a gentle – push was enough. He had slept long; the sleep was disappearing. He was just in that state when you are not asleep and not awake, and just a small dialogue with the master, just a small exchange, a little encounter, and he became enlightened with no effort, with no method. Just looking into the eyes of the master…a few words pass between the master and Yoka, and the dialogue is of immense significance.
I would like you to understand it. In fact, I would like you to have such an exchange with me.
Yoka Daishi walked around the master three times without bowing and merely shook his Buddhist staff with iron rings. The master said “A shramana [a Buddhist monk], embodies the three thousand rules of deportment and the eighty thousand minute moral rules. From whence does your honor come, may I ask, with your overweening self-assurance?”
When one comes to a master one has to bow three times: that has been a traditional greeting. When you face an enlightened being you have to bow three times – the body bows, the mind bows, the soul bows; you surrender utterly. That is just a gesture; it happens spontaneously. And when it happens spontaneously only then it happens.
Just two, three nights before, Hema came to see me. She may not even be aware of the Buddhist rule that when you face a master you have to bow down three times, but she bowed three times. She was laughing all the time because she could not understand what was happening. She was puzzled, she must have felt a little ridiculous, and everybody else started laughing. Something had takes possession of her being. Now this was not a formality. What happened to Hema was a natural outpouring, a spontaneity. But in this ugly world every spontaneous thing becomes reduced to a formality. It used to happen to people when they would come to see a buddha – they would bow down three times. Then people started following, imitating.
In the first meeting with the Master Huineng, Yoka walked around the master three times without bowing and merely shook his Buddhist staff with iron rings.
The master said, “A shramana embodies the three thousand rules of deportment and the eighty thousand minute moral rules.”
Now look what happens to religion. Buddha has said, “Be a law unto yourself. Be a lamp unto yourself. There is no other law.” But Buddhist scriptures are full of rules – three thousand rules of deportment; even to remember them is very difficult. And eighty thousand minute rules…and a Buddhist monk is expected to fulfill all of them.
Huineng said, “From where does your honor come, may I ask, with your overweening self-assurance?”