Kyozan was Isan’s chief disciple, and finally was going to be his successor. He was under preparation, he was almost chosen by Isan to be his successor – undeclared, but it was known to all the disciples that Kyozan was going to be the next master. Hence Kyozan was allowed the privilege of asking all kinds of questions, because he would have to face the same kinds of questions when he became the successor.
In this question Isan is asking, “I have heard that when you were with your master, Hyakujo, if you were asked about one, you could answer about ten. Is that true?”
He is saying, “I have heard that you were so much a man of wisdom, that if one question was asked, you could answer in ten different ways the same question. Your multidimensional wisdom was very much appreciated by Hyakujo.”
“I would not like to say…”
“Attempt to say something that expresses the highest point of Buddhism,” said Isan.
The highest point of Buddhism cannot be said, not even one time – there is no question of answering it ten times in ten different ways. To answer even one time is to commit one mistake; to answer ten times is to commit ten mistakes. Only silence is the answer if the highest point of Buddha’s experience, his enlightenment, is concerned.
Kyozan just opened his mouth, about to speak, when Isan shouted, “Kwatz!”
“Kwatz” is just a sound, but it means indirectly “shut up”! But “shut up” is meaningful, hence it is avoided. It does not have that quality of “Kwatz!” “Kwatz” is not part of any language; it is simply shouting to produce the result of shutting his mouth. He has asked enough, now he should not open his mouth anymore.
Twice more, Kyozan went to speak and twice Isan silenced him with a shout.
Now, the shout is an invention of Ma Tzu. It is very difficult to create new devices, new methods. It needs a totally different kind of personality. One can be enlightened, that is one thing; one can follow the well-trodden path, the well-experimented methods, and can be of immense help to people. But if he wants to be an individual peak, if he wants to stand on his own, then he needs the qualities of a buddha himself.