But with Ta Hui your dialogue starts when he himself is in the dark valley, and the dialogue continues as he goes on climbing the mountain. Still there is something to be climbed, but it is becoming more and more certain that he will be able to make it. He has reached very close.
Because the dialogue with him has started while he was just one of you, that continuity and the slow change in his being can be of great importance for understanding not only him, but your own journey.
Perhaps the emperor of China met him when he was enlightened. and that’s why he gave him the honorable title, “The Great Master of Zen.” We have to see whether he makes it or goes astray…because one can go astray at the very last moment. He has just to go one step more, and something – some idea, some accident, some incident – can take him away.
There is an old saying in the East that people don’t get lost until they have almost reached. It is a very strange saying, but it has great psychological insight behind it. As people start feeling they are reaching, they start losing the awareness that is needed to take the final jump. They start thinking, “Now it is almost certain I will reach, it is only a question of a few steps more….” Even one step is enough to take you astray, if you become certain. If you remain open, vulnerable, aware that you can still miss it, then there is less possibility of missing it.
It is well known to travelers that when they come close to their goal, they start feeling utterly tired – just before the goal. They have been traveling thousands of miles, but they had never felt so tired. And because now they can see the goal has almost been reached, there is no hurry; they can sit down, they can rest – and that is a very dangerous situation.
The inner journey is such that you cannot rest and wait, because the goal is not something dead, an objective that will remain there.
Even if you are resting outside the temple of your ultimate realization, you can fall asleep again. The old habit…and habits die hard – they can overwhelm you. And if the old sleep comes in the name of tiredness, saying “You can rest now that you have already arrived; tomorrow morning you can enter into the temple. There is no hurry now”…Up to now it was always a hurry, but because you have almost made it, you can rest, you can fall into a deep sleep…and your sleep can take you so far astray that when you open your eyes, the temple is no longer there.
So we have to see the whole process of evolution from a student to a disciple, to a devotee, to a master – from just intellectual effort to understanding what enlightenment is, and then to experience it in one’s own being.
Ta Hui can be of more help to you than anybody else, because all the enlightened people are recorded only after their enlightenment. Ta Hui is an exception. Because he was a great teacher, very articulate, the disciples started thinking that he was already enlightened and they began collecting his sutras.