The essence of Buddhism


A monk asked the Zen Master Hyakujo, “What is the most wonderful thing in life?” Hyakujo replied, “Sitting alone on the great Mt. Kenya.” As the monk bowed, Hyakujo struck him.

Hyakujo was the successor of Baso and a most outstanding Spiritual Teacher. The emperor of China later gave him a special name: Daichi, meaning “great wisdom”. The question the monk asks is the same as “what is the essence of Buddhism?” Hyakujo says it is to sit alone on the peak of supreme enlightenment
(Mount Kenya). Alone does not mean away from others. This alone-ness is not disturbed even in the midst of the turmoil of worldly life.

If one attains the essence of Zen, even in a busy office one can have the same feeling and taste of life as Hyakujo on his Mount Kenya. When the monk bowed, Hyakujo hit him as if to say, “Why bow like that to me? Get busy; wake up. You, too, should sit on the top of peak of perfect enlightenment where even bowing is a waste of time.”

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