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The Betterment Of Life
Again, people nowadays seem to feel keenly the wound of the ...

The Honest Poverty Of The Zen Monk And The Samurai
Secondly, the so-called honest poverty is a characteristic of...

Zen In The Dark Age
The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms an...

The Mystery Of Life
Thus far we have pointed out the inevitable conflictions in l...

Epicureanism And Life
There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mir...

Life And Change
A peculiar phase of life is change which appears in the form ...

The Sermon Of The Inanimate
The Scripture of Zen is written with facts simple and familia...

The Parable Of The Robber Kih
Chwang Tsz (So-shi) remarks in a humorous way to the followi...

The Method Of Instruction Adopted By Zen Masters
Thus far we have described the doctrine of Zen inculcated by ...

Calmness Of Mind
The Yogi breathing above mentioned is fit rather for physical...

The Usual Explanation Of The Canon
An eminent Chinese Buddhist scholar, well known as Ten Dai Da...

Wang Yang Ming (o-yo-mei) And A Thief
One evening when Wang was giving a lecture to a number of stu...

Sutras Used By Zen Masters
Ten Dai failed to explain away the discrepancies and contradi...

Zen Is Not Nihilistic
Zen judged from ancient Zen masters' aphorisms may seem, at t...

No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...

Buddha Is Unnamable
Give a definite name to Deity, He would be no more than what ...

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to ha...

Zen And The Regent Generals Of The Ho-jo Period
No wonder, then, that the representatives of the Samurai clas...

Scripture Is No More Than Waste Paper
[FN#107] Zen is not based on any particular sutra, either of...

Zen Under The Toku-gana Shogunate
Peace was at last restored by Iye-yasu, the founder of the To...

Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Objective Reality

But extreme Idealism identifies 'to be' with 'to be known,' and
assumes all phenomena to be ideas as illustrated in
Mahayana-vidyamatra-siddhi-tridaca-castra[FN#199] and
Vidyamatra-vincati-castra,[FN#200] by Vasubandhu. Then it
necessarily parts company with Zen, which believes in Universal Life
existing in everything instead of behind it. Idealism shows us its
dark side in three sceptic views: (1) scepticism respecting objective
reality; (2) scepticism respecting religion; (3) scepticism
respecting morality.

[FN#199] A philosophical work on Buddhist idealism by Vasubandhu,
translated into Chinese by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 648. There exists a
famous commentary on it, compiled by Dharmapala, translated into
Chinese by Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 659. See Nanjo's Catalogue, Nos. 1197
and 1125.

[FN#200] A simpler work on Idealism, translated into Chinese by
Hiuen Tsang in A.D. 661. See Nanjo's Catalogue, Nos. 1238, 1239, and

First it assumes that things exist in so far as they are known by us.
It is as a matter of course that if a tree exists at all, it is
known as having a trunk long or short, branches large or small,
leaves green or yellow, flowers yellow or purple, etc., all of which
are ideas. But it does not imply in the least that 'to be known' is
equivalent to 'to be existent.' Rather we should say that to be
known presupposes to be existent, for we cannot know anything
non-existent, even if we admit that the axioms of logic subsist.
Again, a tree may stand as ideas to a knower, but it can stand at the
same time as a shelter in relation to some birds, as food in relation
to some insects, as a world in relation to some minute worms, as a
kindred organism to other vegetables. How could you say that its
relation to a knower is the only and fundamental relation for the
existence of the tree? The disappearance of its knower no more
affects the tree than of its feeder; nor the appearance of its knower
affects the tree any more than that of kindred vegetables.

Extreme idealism erroneously concludes that what is really existent,
or what is directly proved to be existent, is only our sensations,
ideas, thoughts; that the external world is nothing but the images
reflected on the mirror of the mind, and that therefore objective
reality of things is doubtful-nay, more, they are unreal, illusory,
and dreams. If so, we can no longer distinguish the real from the
visionary; the waking from the dreaming; the sane from the insane;
the true from the untrue. Whether life is real or an empty dream, we
are at a loss to understand.

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