Hyakujo said, “Mind is without form and characteristics. It is neither beyond nor not beyond words and speech. It is forever clear and still and can perform its function freely and without hindrance. The Patriarch said, ‘It is only when the mind is seen to be unreal that the dharma of all minds can be truly understood.’”
The whole dialogue is between two persons who cannot understand each other. The master, Hyakujo, is speaking as authentically as possible about something which cannot be spoken about. Anybody in his place, a man like Ma Tzu, would have beaten the monk to give him a little glimpse beyond the mind.
When thoughts stop, when suddenly one hits you, the whole world is in a whirl. Thoughts stop and you are shocked. Even breathing stops: “I was asking a relevant question and what kind of mad master is he? He hits me…” And before you have opened your mind, he hits you again.
Once Ma Tzu hit a person sixty-six times….
Because he was hit, he was shocked and still started opening his mouth. Again another hit…until he stopped opening his mouth, until he understood that this opening of the mouth is creating the whole trouble.
But Ma Tzu was a totally different master, very loving and very compassionate – he had the right to hit.
And as the man became silent, Ma Tzu closed his eyes, the man closed his eyes. Nothing was asked, nothing was said, and everything was understood.
Those sixty-six hits brought the man to the edge of the mind. He must have been an authentic seeker. He did not bother that his head might be broken…He did not care, but went on insisting for another hit until he found some glimpse that prevented him from speaking.
Seeing that he had found some glimpse, and was not going to speak, Ma Tzu closed his eyes. They sat for hours together in silence.
In that silence is the transfer, the transmission.
The man bowed down, touched the feet of Ma Tzu, and he said, “If there were more people like you, so compassionate to hit sixty-six times, the world would have become enlightened.”
It was a totally different atmosphere where the hit was not thought to be an insult, it was thought to be a message. What words cannot say, the hit was saying. The hit was saying: “Keep quiet. Be silent. Be utterly silent.” And the master goes on hitting. He is saying, “Go on digging deeper and deeper. As I hit you from outside, you hit yourself inside until you reach the life source itself.”