One day when Hyakujo was to give his daily discourses to his disciples, he began by saying, “I am no Zen adept. I have not a single thing to offer anyone, so I must not keep you standing here. Go and take a rest.”
On another occasion, a group of dharma masters sought an interview and said: “We have some questions to ask. Are you prepared to answer them, master?”
Hyakujo replied, “Yes. The moon is reflected in that deep pond; catch it if you like.”
The group continued, “What is the buddha really like?”
“If that which is facing the limpid pond is not the buddha, what is it?” said Hyakujo.
The monks were puzzled by this reply, and after a short while inquired again: “Master, what dharma do you expound in order to liberate others?”
Hyakujo responded, “This poor monk has no dharma by which to liberate others.”
They exclaimed, “All Zen masters are of the same stuff!”
At this, Hyakujo asked them, “What dharmas do you virtuous ones expound for liberating others?”
The monks replied, “Oh, we expound the Diamond Sutra.”
Hyakujo asked, “How many times have you expounded it?”
“More than twenty times,” they answered.
Hyakujo continued, “By whom was it spoken?”
To this the monks answered indignantly: “Master, you must be joking! Of course you know that it was spoken by the Buddha.”
Hyakujo said: “Well, that sutra states: ‘If someone says the Tathagata expounds the dharma, he thereby slanders the Buddha! Such a man will never understand what I mean.’”
Hyakujo continued, “Now, if you say that it was not expounded by the Buddha, you will thereby belittle that sutra. Will you virtuous ones please let me see what you have to say to that?”
As they made no reply, the master paused awhile before asking his next question, which was: “The diamond sutra says: ‘He who seeks me through outward appearance, or seeks me in sound, treads the heterodox path and cannot perceive the Tathagata.’
“Tell me, virtuous one,” said Hyakujo, “who or what is the Tathagata?”
One monk replied, “Sir, at this point I find myself utterly deluded.”
Hyakujo said: “Having never been illumined, how can you say that you are now deluded?”
Then the monk asked, “Will the venerable Zen master expound the dharma to us?”
Hyakujo replied, “Though you have expounded the Diamond Sutra over twenty times, you still do not know the Tathagata!”
Maneesha, before I discuss the sutras placed before me, I have to introduce a new animal god to Avirbhava’s museum of gods. This god is the fish.
Fish have always been associated with all aspects of a mother goddess and with all lunar deities.
Although sacred fish are not uncommon, a fish god seems to be a somewhat rare phenomenon. Dagon, the chief god of the ancient Philistines and later the Phoenicians, is represented as half man and half fish. Dagon’s worshippers wore fish skins.
There were sacred fish in the temples of Apollo and Aphrodite in Ancient Greece. Xenophon, the Greek historian who was a pupil and friend of Socrates, records that fish were regarded as gods.
In Peru sardines are said to have been worshipped in one region, the fish known as skate in another region, and the dogfish in another.
In the Christian church, the fish, even today, represents Christ.
One of the most prominent roles of the fish, in all mythologies, is that of restorer of life and savior of mankind. The Buddhists call their founder Dag-Po or “Great Fish”; Hebrews designate the same name for the coming Messiah in the Talmud.
In India, the fish savior, Matsya, an incarnation of Vishnu, led Manu to safety in the Great Flood, thus saving mankind as well.
Avirbhava’s museum of gods represents to you that man has always been humiliated. His dignity in many ways has been destroyed. It was a well-organized conspiracy against humanity. To teach people to worship animals is simply so irrational. But yet, almost all the animals around the world have been worshipped as gods and nobody seems to have objected. People have been put in such great psychological slavery that they have forgotten even to question, to doubt. They have simply accepted whatever conditioning has been given to them in their childhood.
Unless you are free from all such stupid conditionings, you won’t be able to recognize the God within you. If you are searching for gods in fishes, in horses, in pigs, how are you going to search for the god within yourself? And that is the only place where you can find the ultimate consciousness. These poor animals are still growing towards that consciousness. They contain the same consciousness, but it is far more deeply asleep.