I cannot offer you a mani pearl, nor will I explain it to you. You must come to accept the sudden enlightenment Dharma on your own. It takes confidence. If you have the confidence necessary to practice hard, you will be able to accept Ch’an Dharma, and eventually you will reveal the mani pearl of Buddha’s wisdom.
In truth, however, there is no such thing as a mani pearl. Yung-chia clarifies this in the next stanza.
They clearly see that there is not a thing,
Neither person nor Buddha.
The numerous worlds in the great chiliocosm are bubbles in the sea,
All sages and saints are like lightning flashes.
In order to progress on the Buddha path, you must accept the Dharma of the mani pearl. On the other hand, you cannot cling to its existence. In fact, you cannot attach to any dharma. If a person follows this teaching and practices hard, he will attain enlightenment and eventually reach Buddhahood. At the beginning of the Buddha path, there must be an individual who accepts the teachings, and who then practices, eventually realizing Buddhahood. But if the practitioner is attached to his existence and cannot let go of the self, reaching Buddhahood will be impossible; if he is not attached to his self, but clings to the idea of Buddhahood, he will also never become a Buddha.
All phenomena are like bubbles in an ocean. They have no genuine existence. What we think are bubbles is only the movement of water. All the worlds in the universe and all the phenomena in this world are like bubbles in an ocean. Everything, including Samsara and Nirvana and sentient beings and Buddhas, is illusory.
All sages, Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are like flashes of lightning. You can see lightning, just as you can witness the power and functions of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas, but if you try to grasp lightning, or attach to the idea that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have concrete existence or self-nature, then you are wasting your time.
We accept that there is a mani pearl, but we should not think that the gem has a definite form or appearance. If it did, it would just be an ordinary pearl. It is precisely because the mani pearl has no definite form that it can generate unlimited power and perform innumerable functions.
— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 224-225)