On another occasion, Mayaoku, Nansen and another monk were on what in those times was called a “nature pilgrimage,” or “cloud enjoying,” meaning going like a cloud, flowing like water, enjoying the mountains, playing in the streams and lakes. At the same time, they intended to interview Kinzan.
Who was an old and famous master.
On the way they met an old woman, and they asked her, “Where do you live?”
“Here,” she said, and the three went into her tea-shop.
The crowd is not his place, and he cannot be a disciple either. He is born to be a master. One day he will go to a mountain top far away and establish a hermitage, and will blossom with such beauty that even the buddhas will be ashamed and the patriarchs will feel jealous.
It is a very strange way of appreciation, but Isan seems to be a man of tremendous insight. Not a single word has been transferred and he has looked into the very depths of Tokusan and his potentiality. And he is not the man to waste time with someone whose potentiality leads him somewhere else.
In ancient Egyptian mysticism there is a very old proverb: it is not the disciple who chooses the master, it is the master who chooses the disciple. How can a poor disciple decide? On what grounds can he choose a master? Only a master can choose a disciple. From his height he can see the potential. Isan saw that Tokusan is not a bodhisattva, but an arhat. He will find the truth alone, he will become a great master, but a master of very few people. And certainly he will not become a disciple – that is not his destiny.
Isan showed tremendous insight. Just simply watching ordinary gestures, he could see the very inner depth of Tokusan. And what he said really happened. Tokusan finally became a great master on his own. He went to many more masters after Isan, but everywhere he behaved in such a way that nobody could accept him. Every master he visited could see the great potential in him, but he had to find it himself, he would not take somebody’s help; that, simply, was not in his nature.
And when Tokusan himself became a master he was really on a mountaintop, all alone. But his glory, his name, spread like wildfire – that another man has blossomed into the totality of buddhahood – and hundreds of people came to him.
Isan is saying that a man of clarity and enlightenment can see through you; through and through what you are and what you can become. And a man like Isan, out of compassion, will not interfere, will not say a single word to such a man who can become a master on his own sooner or later. Let him find…. Any help to such a man will be a distraction.