Kyosei’s Instructions on Pecking and Tapping
A monk said to Kyosei, “I want to peck from the inside. Would you please tap from the outside?”
Kyosei said, “Could you attain life or not?”
The monk said, “If I could not attain life I would become a laughingstock.”
Kyosei said, “You too are a fellow in the weeds.”
Setcho put it like this:
Old Buddha had his way of teaching,
The monk’s answer won no praise.
Strangers to each other, hen and chick,
Who can peck when the tapping comes?
Outside, the tap was given;
Inside, the chick remained.
Once again the tap was given;
Monks throughout the world attempt the trick in vain.
This anecdote evokes such a beautiful image of what transpires between master and disciple.
Can you talk about the peck and tap that we call our relationship with you?
Maneesha, before I talk about Kyosei and his statement, I am reminded of a very significant awakened man. He was a potter; his name was Gora. He uses this image very significantly, because when a potter makes a pot he has to do two things: inside he pecks and outside he taps. That is the whole art of pottery, but that’s also the whole art of the master and disciple relationship.
Even though he became enlightened, Gora remained a potter. He inspired millions of people – very rich people, even the kings, were his disciples. And they again and again asked him, “This does not look good. You stop this business of pottery. We feel ashamed.”
Gora said, “Even if I drop the visible business of making pots, what about my being your master? What am I doing with you? – pecking and tapping.”
Yes, Maneesha, this is the whole art of the master. If he cannot peck from inside when he starts tapping from the outside, he will destroy the disciple. And most of the so-called teachers of the world exactly do that. They don’t even know their own inside – how can they help somebody else’s growth with this art of pecking from inside and tapping from outside?
Tapping from outside is very easy, even Zen Master Niskriya can do it. But the real question is the support from inside. Great things can be said to you which will not be of any help, which on the contrary may pollute you and poison you, because they will make you knowledgeable. A master is your enemy if he makes you knowledgeable. But from the outside only knowledge can be given. You become more and more filled with knowledge.
The real master has nothing to do with knowledge. He hits deep inside you. His compassion sometimes seems to be very hard, but he goes on showering from the outside, with great love. Inside he has to be a surgeon; outside he has to shower flowers of blessings. Unless a master can do both he is not a master, he is only a teacher.