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A Sutra Equal In Size To The Whole World
The holy writ that Zen masters admire is not one of parchment...

The Next Step In The Mental Training
In the next place we have to strive to be the master of our b...

Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...

Enlightened Consciousness
In addition to these considerations, which mainly depend on i...

The Social State Of Japan When Zen Was Established By Ei-sai And Do-gen
Now we have to observe the condition of the country when Zen ...

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

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

Enlightened Consciousness Is Not An Intellectual Insight
Enlightened Consciousness is not a bare intellectual insight,...

The Buddha Of Mercy
Milton says: Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt; Surp...

The Four Alternatives And The Five Categories
There are, according to Zen, the four classes of religious an...

Bodhidharma And The Emperor Wu
No sooner had Bodhidharma landed at Kwang Cheu in Southern Ch...

Zen And Nirvana
The beatitude of Zen is Nirvana, not in the Hinayanistic sens...

Zazen Or The Sitting In Meditation
Habit comes out of practice, and forms character by degrees, ...

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

Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...

The Law Of Balance In Life
It is also the case with human affairs. Social positions hig...

Nature And Her Lesson
Nature offers us nectar and ambrosia every day, and everywher...

The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...

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

The Introduction Of The So-to School Of Zen
[FN#75] This school was started by Tsing-Yuen (Sei-gen)...




The Examination Of The Notion Of Self








The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of
self-preservation that calls forth an insatiable longing for
longevity. It is another form of egoism, one of the relics of our
brute forefathers. We must bear in mind that this illusion of the
individual Self is the foundation on which every form of immorality
has its being. I challenge my readers to find in the whole history
of mankind any crime not based on egoism. Evil-doers have been as a
rule pleasure-hunters, money-seekers, seekers after self-interests,
characterized by lust, folly, and cruelty. Has there been anyone who
committed theft that he might further the interests of his villagers?
Has there been any paramour who disgraced himself that lie might
help his neighbours? Has there been any traitor who performed the
ignoble conduct to promote the welfare of his own country or society
at large?

To get Enlightened, therefore, we have to correct, first of all, our
notions concerning Self. Individual body and mind are not the only
important constituents of Self. There are many other indispensable
elements in the notion of Self. For instance, I have come into
existence as another form of my parents. I am theirs, and may justly
be called the reincarnation of them. And again, my father is another
form of his parents; my mother of hers; his and her parents of
theirs; and ad infinitum. In brief, all my forefathers live and have
their being in me. I cannot help, therefore, thinking that my
physical state is the result of the sum total of my good and bad
actions in the past lives I led in the persons of my forefathers, and
of the influence I received therein;[FN#186] and that my psychical
state is the result of that which I received, felt, imagined,
conceived, experienced, and thought in my past existences in the
persons of my ancestors.

[FN#186] This is the law of Karma.


Besides this, my brothers, my sisters, my neighbours--nay, all my
follow-men and fellow-women are no other than the reincarnation of
their parents and forefathers, who are also mine. The same blood
invigorated the king as well as the beggar; the same nerve energized
the white as well as the black men; the same consciousness vitalized
the wise as well as the unwise. Impossible it is to conceive myself
independent of my fellow-men and fellow-women, for they are mine and
I am theirs--that is, I live and move in them, and they live and move
in me.

It is bare nonsense to say that I go to school, not to be educated as
a member of society, but simply to gratify my individual desire for
knowledge; or that I make a fortune, not to lead the life of a
well-to-do in society, but to satisfy my individual money-loving
instinct; or that I seek after truth, neither to do good to my
contemporaries nor to the future generations, but only for my
individual curiosity or that I live neither to live with my family
nor with my friends nor with anyone else, but to live my individual
life. It is as gross absurdity to say that I am an individual
absolutely independent of society as to say I am a husband with no
wife, or I am a son to no parents. Whatever I do directly or
indirectly I contribute to the common fortune of man; whatever anyone
else does directly or indirectly determines my fate. Therefore we
must realize that our Selves necessarily include other members of the
community, while other members' Selves necessarily comprehend us.






Next: Nature Is The Mother Of All Things

Previous: The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality



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