Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Master Hyakujo

August 19, 2015

We might choose to follow the example of the Little Prince in Saint-Exupéry’s famous book, who cared for just one thing, one plant, and found all life’s meaning in it.


Great Master Hyakujo – Hyakujo meaning “100 Fathom Cliff” – a towering verticality of a human being, a man whose core was a mineshaft plunging infinitely downward and a cliff-face looming up into empty sky, a man so simple that when he took a step the whole world stepped with him, who was brought to awakening as a student by great Baso’s asking him a simple question (“where did that duck fly off to?”) then giving his own answer, namely a sharp twist to Hyakujo’s nose, after which young Hyakujo cried and laughed for two days, and who would later say of himself, “I am not a man of wisdom”  – this Hyakujo believed a monk should work for his daily bread. He once said:

“A day without work is a day without food,”

…thus establishing one of the principles by which the Zen monasteries of Tang China are said to have operated– that the monks worked around the monastery and in the fields, growing rice which flourished in the intermontane valleys where the monasteries typically stood.

They were expected to do more than liturgy, ritual and meditation. The monks had the whole universe to take care of in their meditation, yes, but they also had buildings and grounds to take care of, not to mention their bellies.

Once when Hyakujo was an old man who still insisted on going out to work every day, the monks hid his tools from him, thinking he was too old and frail for work. He retaliated by refusing to eat. Eventually they relented, and gave the old man back his tools.

Here at Mountain Cloud we are in the process of developing a new awareness of the need for each of us, as we are able, to do just a little, whatever we can manage, to take care of the center that is giving us sarana, shelter, refuge, a place of practice. We’re very fortunate to have such a beautiful place in which to practice, and with such gorgeous land all around it. But everything here needs just a little tending. So this message is actually a plea for help. The center needs just a bit more TLC….

We might choose to follow the example of the Little Prince in Saint-Exupéry’s famous book, who cared for just one thing, one plant, and found all life’s meaning in it.

Maybe there’s one little area or corner or aspect of the center’s gently burgeoning life to which we might decide to give our attention, to whatever extent we are able… maybe an hour a month. In taking care of the center we don’t do it for ourselves but for those around us, and after us. Please consider taking something on in this way, if you can. (If so, please contact Bill, our Buildings and Grounds Manager, or Rachel, our Coordinator, or Johanna, our Administrator, or Pancho, our Land Steward.)

Thank you for considering including some volunteer work at Mountain Cloud in your life of practice, however little, if that is possible for you. And if you can’t just now, no problem. There are other ways to give the center the support it needs, or simply just come and continue to share your practice with us – the greatest care of all for a world in disorder and injury.

Message from Henry – excerpted from our August 19, 2015 newsletter.
Image Credit: Sakura, by Nan-ne, CC0 Public Domain, from

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