Once, Hyakujo was out in the fields working alongside his disciples. Just as a certain monk lifted up his hoe, the sound of the dinner drum could be heard.
With this, the monk laughed loudly, dropped his hoe and went to the temple.
“Wonderful!” exclaimed Hyakujo. “This is the gate to the entering of the Bodhisattva Kannon.”
Hyakujo followed after the monk, and arriving at the temple, asked the monk, “What truth did you perceive when you heard the dinner drum?”
The monk said, “Just now I was terribly hungry, and when I heard the sound of the drum, I went back and had my meal.”
On hearing this, Hyakujo himself laughed.
On another occasion, Isan, hearing the wooden gong sounding, rubbed his hands and gave a great laugh.
When Hyakujo saw and heard this, he asked Isan the same question as he had asked the other monk in a similar situation, and received a similar response.
At another time, a master of the Vinaya sect named Fa Ming remarked, “You Zen masters do a lot of tumbling about in the emptiness of the void.”
Hyakujo replied, “On the contrary, venerable sir, it is you who tumble a lot in the emptiness of the void.”
The Vinaya master asked, “How can that be?”
“The scriptures,” continued Hyakujo, “are just words – mere ink and paper – and everything of that sort is just an empty device. All those words and phrases are based on something people once heard – they are nothing but emptiness. You, venerable sir, cling to the mere letter of the doctrine, so of course you tumble about in the void.”
“And do you Zen masters not tumble in the void?” asked the Vinaya master.
Hyakujo said, “We do not.”
The Vinaya master responded “How not?”
At this, Hyakujo said, “All those writings are the products of wisdom, and where wisdom’s mighty function operates, how can there be tumbling about in the void?”
Maneesha, before I introduce Hyakujo’s sutras, and their meaning to me, I have to make you all understand that you must act intelligently.
Just the other day, because I told Hasya not to unnecessarily struggle with dropping cigarettes – her whole life she has been smoking – many others who had already dropped, they immediately jumped! And many who had never smoked, they started smoking, perhaps thinking that this is a device towards buddhahood.
You are all buddhas, but don’t be idiot buddhas.
Today the whole place is full of tobacco smell. I don’t want this place to be filled with tobacco smell. It has been so clean, and if you, many of you start smoking, you will bring the smell here. So those who have never smoked, simply stop. Those who have stopped and already were out of the withdrawal symptoms, should not start again.
It was specially meant for Hasya and Chitten, who have been going through withdrawal symptoms. When I entered yesterday and looked at Chitten, he was looking so sad, so dead. I wondered what was the matter, because I was not aware that he was also following Hasya. And when I said that Hasya can smoke, and there is no need to be worried…What does it matter if you live two years longer, or two years lesser? You will never know the difference. Nobody will know the difference, that Hasya lived two years less.
So except Chitten and Hasya, everybody has to come back. Use your own intelligence.
When I told Hasya to smoke, Chitten had a great smile on his face. I wondered what was happening to him, because Hasya’s withdrawal symptoms cannot affect Chitten. Later on I came to know that he was on the same trip. Just hearing that he is free to smoke was enough to bring a great smile to him – he has not smoked yet, but all the withdrawal symptoms disappeared!
Don’t be unnecessarily stupid. If necessary, it is okay, but unnecessarily stupid, that is a little too much!
And remember, I should never smell tobacco in Buddha Hall. Even Hasya and Chitten, they can smoke wherever they want, but before coming to Buddha Hall they will change their clothes, take a shower and wash their mouths.
The cigarette is not a device for buddhahood. It is simply a kindness, not to unnecessarily harass you, but it is not for others to follow. They are already good, there is no need for them to start smoking. It is poison, it is destructive. It cannot destroy your buddhahood, but it shows your unintelligent habits. But if they have been formed a long time ago – for years – it is going to take too much time to throw them away. I will allow you to become a buddha smoking, but this is not the rule, this is only the exception.