Daio once said to a monk:
“The peak experience, the final act – as soon as you try to pursue it in thought, there are white clouds for a thousand miles. But even if you go back upon seeing the monastery flagpole at a distance, or head off freely upon seeing a beckoning hand, this is still only half the issue; it is not yet the strategic action of the whole capability.
You have traveled and studied various places and spent a long time in monasteries. Don’t stick to the ruts in the road of the ancients – you must travel a living road on your own.
East, west, foot up, foot down, using it directly – only then will you know that the peak experience illumines the heavens and covers the earth, illumines the past and flashes through the present. This is your own place to settle and live. When I say this, I am only using water to offer flowers, never adding anything extra.”
On another occasion Daio said to a Zen nun, “At the top of the hundred-foot pole, go forward.”
The nun replied, “At the top of the hundred-foot pole, there is no place to go.”
Daio said, “Where there is no place to step, go a hundred thousand steps farther – only then will you be able to walk alone in the red skies, pervading the universe as your whole body.”
The nun agreed and Daio continued: “That’s all. Now you want to return to your old capital and have come with incense in your sleeve to ask for a saying. I once made a verse of praise on the master of Ikusan, so I will write that:
“‘Atop the pole, walk on by the ordinary route. It is most painful, when taking a tumble in a valley. Earth, mountains, and rivers cannot hold you up, and space suppresses laughter, filling a donkey’s cheeks.’
“I ask you, Zen nun,” continued Daio, “to bring this up and look at it time and again: how to go forward from atop the pole? Suddenly, when the time comes, you can go forward a step, and space will surely swallow a laugh. Remember, remember.”
Maneesha, before I discuss these very significant statements, I have to inaugurate Avirbhava’s Museum of Gods. She has brought a few great gods, but before she brings her gods before you I have to say something about them.
Octopus: On the island of Corfu in the Greek archipelago, the octopus was worshipped as an incarnation of one of the Greek gods.
Known as the most evil of the sea animals, the innocent octopus acquired the name ‘devil-fish’ by fearful ancient fishermen.
The second is, Crocodile: Among the southern Bantus of Africa, the crocodile is considered sacrosanct.
The Egyptian god Sebek was believed to take the shape of a crocodile; sometimes he was represented as wholly animal, sometimes only with a crocodile head. Offerings of cake, meat, and honey wine were made to the sacred crocodiles, some of which were tamed by priests. Oracles were drawn from the crocodiles’ behavior, and they were embalmed at death.
And the third is, Lobster: The lobster was generally considered sacred among the ancient Greeks.
In New Caledonia, the crab goddess, or demon, is known to have a sacred grove. On the trees in her grove are hung little packets of food for her. She is the enemy of married people, and is known to cause elephantiasis.
Even today, the lobster is worshipped in the Isa district fishing villages of Japan. Huge replicas are paraded through the towns during their festivals.