He cannot even understand what has been happening in the school of Zen. It is so special that a very rare insight is needed to comprehend it, and unless you have your own experience there will always remain something of a doubt in you.
For example, Zen is the only school in the world where the masters have slapped the disciples, hit them with their staffs, or even physically thrown students out of the window. Not only that, one master jumped on top of a disciple; sitting on his chest he asked, “Got it?”
The Zen master is mysterious in his working. People who simply read the anecdotes cannot make any sense out of them because they don’t know the inner story which cannot be compiled in the anecdotes. It is a happening between the master and the disciple: it is the invisible transfer of energy.
Just to give you an insight so that you can see the stupidity of Ta Hui…. An understanding of this man who has been thrown out of the window by Lin Chi, who then jumped on him and asked, “Got it?”, needs the total background to the story and the intrinsic undercurrent running through it.
The disciple had been working for almost a year on a koan which is the most famous koan in Zen – ‘the sound of one hand clapping.’ Now, there cannot be any sound of one hand clapping. You can go on clapping one hand, but sound is not possible. Sound is only produced when two things clash; if there is only one thing, sound is not possible.
So the first thing to understand is that a Zen koan is not an ordinary puzzle which can be solved. It needs a different approach – not that of solution, but that of dissolution.
The poor student went, sat under a tree, thought about it, meditated – what can be the sound of one hand clapping? Do you hear the cuckoo…? He heard a cuckoo from a faraway bamboo grove. He said, “This is it!” – so beautiful, so peaceful, bringing such joy. He rushed back and told the master, “I have heard it. It is the song of a cuckoo.”
The master slapped him and said, “You idiot! I have told you to find out the sound of one hand clapping! What does a poor cuckoo have to do with it? Just go back and meditate.”
He was very much puzzled, because his mind was searching for sounds – which sound is it? One day he heard a breeze passing through the pine trees and he said, “This must be it!” And he rushed back….
This went on for one year. He would find some sound, the sound of running water, and he would go back. A point came when the master had no need to hear his answer. The moment he saw him, he slapped him, and he would say, “Go back.”
He replied, “But I have not even said anything….”
The master said, “As long as you go on finding, you will not have found it. Just go back. I know you have brought some stupid sound again!”