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Samurai

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The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai








Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, with
unflinching courage. He would never turn back from, but fight till
his last with his enemy. To be called a coward was for him the
dishonour worse than death itself. An incident about Tsu Yuen
(So-gen), who came over to Japan in 1280, being invited by
Toki-mune[FN#86] (Ho-jo), the Regent General, well illustrates how
much Zen monks resembled our Samurais. The event happened when he
was in China, where the invading army of Yuen spread terror all over
the country. Some of the barbarians, who crossed the border of the
State of Wan, broke into the monastery of Tsu Yuen, and threatened to
behead him. Then calmly sitting down, ready to meet his fate, he
composed the following verses

The heaven and earth afford me no shelter at all;
I'm glad, unreal are body and soul.
Welcome thy weapon, O warrior of Yuen! Thy trusty steel,
That flashes lightning, cuts the wind of Spring, I feel.


[FN#86] A bold statesman and soldier, who was the real ruler of
Japan 1264-1283.


This reminds us of Sang Chao[FN#87] (So-jo), who, on the verge of
death by the vagabond's sword, expressed his feelings in the follow
lines:

In body there exists no soul.
The mind is not real at all.
Now try on me thy flashing steel,
As if it cuts the wind of Spring, I feel.


[FN#87] The man was not a pure Zen master, being a disciple of
Kumarajiva, the founder of the San Ron Sect. This is a most
remarkable evidence that Zen, especially the Rin Zan school, was
influenced by Kumarajiva and his disciples. For the details of the
anecdote, see E-gen.


The barbarians, moved by this calm resolution and dignified air of
Tsu Yuen, rightly supposed him to be no ordinary personage, and left
the monastery, doing no harm to him.






Next: Zen And The Regent Generals Of The Ho-jo Period

Previous: The Manliness Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai



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