The master asked him, “You are a disciple of Ma Tsu, why have you come to me?” The disciple described what had been going on for months: he brings new sounds and he gets only beatings. There is a limit to patience, and he has come here in search of truth, not to hear the sound of one hand clapping. “Unnecessarily, I am being held back by this, and now I have almost exhausted every sound, but he goes on beating. I have come to you. Accept me as your disciple.”
That master had never beaten anyone, but he gave this disciple such a beating that Ma Tsu’s beating felt far better! The master said, “You idiot! Just go back, your master is very compassionate. He only beats you, you need to be killed! Just go back.”
The disciple said, “My God! I have been in search of truth…First these people go on talking about enlightenment, and when you get caught in their idea, then they do all kinds of strange things to you. This man has been known always to be against Ma Tsu, and he has never used the device of beating. Why has he done this to me? But certainly, if I have to choose between the two, Ma Tsu is better.”
He went back, and Ma Tsu asked him, “Where have you been?”
He told the whole thing. He said, “I have been beaten very badly. You beat very considerably, but that man is absolutely mad; he wanted to kill me!”
Ma Tsu said, “He is very compassionate.”
The disciple said, “This is strange. You are enemies, you have been quarreling for years. Everything that is said by one is opposed by the other – but you both agree as far as killing a poor disciple is concerned!”
Ma Tsu said, “I have never said he is wrong, he has never said I am wrong; we are just different. He is an arhata; he simply lives in silence, and anybody who comes has to sit in silence with him. Years pass, and the other also becomes engulfed, overwhelmed, by the silence of the master. But very few people are capable of bearing such a long wait.
“I make every effort to create a shortcut for you. I am a bodhisattva. I trust that there is a possibility that something can be done to bring you towards truth. All these devices, all these teachings, have nothing to do with truth, but they have something to do with you. The effort is to destroy your clinging to the mind, the effort is to defeat your mind. The day your mind is defeated, the day you are free from the cage of the mind, our work is done; then you will know what truth is. Neither of us can give it to you. But still we differ: the arhata never makes any effort; I make every effort possible.”
It is very difficult to say that one category of enlightened people should disappear. As far as I am concerned, both are equally valid and both enrich the existence.
Ta Hui is saying that truth is so vast that even to call it vast is to make it limited. It is oceanic, but even to call it an ocean is to give it boundaries. All words fail, no word is big enough. There is no possibility of any comparison; nothing comes close enough to being a comparison or an example.
He is quoting Gautam Buddha: