So Hyakujo’s introduction of work was a great step, and had a great clarity about the future as society was becoming more and more poor. Rather than governments making rules – it becomes so ugly, that you have to take a license from the government to become a sannyasin…Sannyas has always been an act of freedom and the government has nothing to do with it, but an intelligent move on the part of sannyasins is needed. Hyakujo has to be heard all over the world.
Not only that, Hyakujo was criticized by all conservative Buddhists and monks for his insistence that all that the crops yielded through the labor of his monks should be subject to the assessment of taxes on an equal basis with those of lay people.
They were angry at the very idea of sannyasins working. And on top of it, Hyakujo insisted that the same tax system should be applicable to sannyasins’ work and earning as it was for anybody else in the country. Sannyasins should not be given a special place.
Naturally he was tremendously opposed, but he was right. And when you oppose right, sooner or later the right wins over.
Now in China every sannyasin works, in Japan…And the work has become so creative because it is no longer only an economic consideration. It is an aesthetic expression of your meditativeness, of your joy, of your blessings. Paintings, sculpture, all kinds of things became available by the idea that work and meditation are not opposed, but that meditation can continue underneath. That’s what I am saying to you every day: your buddha should continue underneath in every one of your activities.
Hyakujo’s favorite motto was: “One day without working, one day without eating.”
If you don’t work one day, then be prepared, next day is a fasting day. Absolutely right! You are working for your liberation. Why should anybody else be taxed for it? Why should anybody support you? You are working for your enlightenment. You will not be able to share it with anybody.
So it is absolutely necessary in Hyakujo’s monastery, that if you don’t work, you don’t eat. If you want to eat, then work just a little. That helps for your food, for your clothes and small necessities. You don’t have to become the richest person in the world. You don’t have to accumulate all kinds of unnecessary luxuries, but be comfortable. In a state of uncomfortableness, meditation becomes difficult.
He saw that worship and meditation could be part of everyday work and seemingly mundane activities.
It is said that the Great Pearl was the creator of the Chinese tea ceremony.