The Great Pearl

This calligraphy by Qiao Seng has nothing to do with pearls,
but rather "dreaming butterflies."

When Master Hui-Hai arrived in Chiang-Hsi Province, he first went to pay a visit to Master Ma Tsu.

Ma Tsu asked: "Where have you come from?"

Hui-Hai answered: "I have come from Great Cloud Temple, which is in Yüeh Chou."

Ma Tsu asked: "What is your reason for coming here?"

Hui-Hai answered: "I have come to seek the Buddhadharma. "

Ma Tsu replied: "You do not regard or cultivate your own store of treasure, but, instead, you have left your home and gone wandering. However, I have nothing at all here, so how can you hope to seek the Buddhadharma in this place?"

Then Hui-Hai prostrated himself and asked:"What and where is Hui-Hai's own treasure-store?"

Ma Tsu answered: "Just that one there who just asked this question is your own treasure-store, and it is perfect and complete for you to make use of when you attain mastery. So why on earth are you futilely seeking anything outside?"

Suddenly, on hearing this, Hui-Hai attained Great Enlightenment, instantly recognizing his own Original Mind.

Then he fully prostrated himself, placing his head at Ma Tsu's feet, to show his deep and sincere gratitude.

From that moment on, the Master served Ma Tsu for the next six years. Then, because his original teacher had become quite old, he returned to his own temple in Yüeh Chou to serve him. During that time, Master Hui-Hai concealed his real ability, appearing to be halting in his speech and somewhat foolish, but he wrote a book entitled Entering the Tao of Sudden Enlightenment.

Later, Hsüan Yen, his Dharma nephew, stole Hui-Hai's book from the temple and took it and presented it to Ma Tsu who, after reading it, proclaimed to his assembly, saying, "There is now, in Yüeh Chou, a Great Pearl, whose luster radiates everywhere and who is free and has gained self-mastery with no obstacles."

Thenceforth, the master was called Ta-Chu (Great Pearl).

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