Samurai The Courage And The Composure Of Mind Of The Zen Monk And Of The Samurai
Fourthly, our Samurai encountered death, as is well known, wi...
Our Conception Of Buddha Is Not Final
Has, then, the divine nature of Universal Spirit been complet...
Retribution In The Past The Present And The Future Life
Then a question suggests itself: If there be no soul that su...
The Law Of Balance
Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts t...
Flight Of The Sixth Patriarch
On the following morning the news of what had happened during...
No Need Of The Scriptural Authority For Zen
Some Occidental scholars erroneously identify Buddhism with t...
Zen After The Restoration
After the Restoration of the Mei-ji (1867) the popularity of ...
The Five Ranks Of Merit
Thus far we have stated how to train our body and mind accord...
Zazen And The Forgetting Of Self
Zazen is a most effectual means of destroying selfishness, th...
Universal Life Is Universal Spirit
These considerations naturally lead us to see that Universal ...
Life Change And Hope
The doctrine of Transcience never drives us to the pessimisti...
Nature And Her Lesson
Nature offers us nectar and ambrosia every day, and everywher...
The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...
The Breathing Exercise Of The Yogi
Breathing exercise is one of the practices of Yoga, and somew...
The Fifth And The Sixth Patriarchs
Tao Sin transmitted the Law to Hung Jan (Ko-nin), who being e...
The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...
Nature Favours Nothing In Particular
There is another point of view of life, which gave the presen...
Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...
The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...
The Ancient Buddhist Pantheon
The ancient Buddhist pantheon was full of deities or Buddhas,...
The Next Step In The Mental Training
In the next place we have to strive to be the master of our bodies.
With most of the unenlightened, body holds absolute control over
Self. Every order of the former has to be faithfully obeyed by the
latter. Even if Self revolts against the tyranny of body, it is
easily trampled down under the brutal hoofs of bodily passion. For
example, Self wants to be temperate for the sake of health, and would
fain pass by the resort for drinking, but body would force Self into
it. Self at times lays down a strict dietetic rule for himself, but
body would threaten Self to act against both the letter and spirit of
the rule. Now Self aspires to get on a higher place among sages, but
body pulls Self down to the pavement of masses. Now Self proposes to
give some money to the poor, but body closes the purse tightly. Now
Self admires divine beauty, but body compels him to prefer
sensuality. Again, Self likes spiritual liberty, but body confines
him in its dungeons.
Therefore, to got Enlightened, we must establish the authority of
Self over the whole body. We must use our bodies as we use our
clothes in order to accomplish our noble purposes. Let us command
body not to shudder under a cold shower-bath in inclement weather,
not to be nervous from sleepless nights, not to be sick with any sort
of food, not to groan under a surgeon's knife, not to succumb even if
we stand a whole day in the midsummer sun, not to break down under
any form of disease, not to be excited in the thick of
battlefield--in brief, we have to control our body as we will.
Sit in a quiet place and meditate in imagination that body is no more
bondage to you, that it is your machine for your work of life, that
you are not flesh, that you are the governor of it, that you can use
it at pleasure, and that it always obeys your order faithfully.
Imagine body as separated from you. When it cries out, stop it
instantly, as a mother does her baby. When it disobeys you, correct
it by discipline, as a master does his pupil. When it is wanton,
tame it down, as a horse-breaker does his wild horse. When it is
sick, prescribe to it, as a doctor does to his patient. Imagine that
you are not a bit injured, even if it streams blood; that you are
entirely safe, even if it is drowned in water or burned by fire.
E-Shun, a pupil and sister of Ryo-an,[FN#231] a famous Japanese
master, burned herself calmly sitting cross-legged on a pile of
firewood which consumed her. She attained to the complete mastery of
her body. Socrates' self was never poisoned, even if his person was
destroyed by the venom he took. Abraham Lincoln himself stood
unharmed, even if his body was laid low by the assassin. Masa-shige
was quite safe, even if his body was hewed by the traitors' swords.
Those martyrs that sang at the stake to the praise of God could never
be burned, even if their bodies were reduced to ashes, nor those
seekers after truth who were killed by ignorance and superstition.
Is it not a great pity to see a man endowed with divine spirit and
power easily upset by a bit of headache, or crying as a child under a
surgeon's knife, or apt to give up the ghost at the coming of little
danger, or trembling through a little cold, or easily laid low by a
bit of indisposition, or yielding to trivial temptation?
[FN#231] Ryo an (E-myo, died 1411), the founder of the monastery of
Sai-jo-ji, near the city of Odawara. See To-jo-ren-to-roku.
It is no easy matter to be the dictator of body. It is not a matter
of theory, but of practice. You must train your body that you may
enable it to bear any sort of suffering, and to stand unflinched in
the face of hardship. It is for this that So-rai[FN#232] (Ogiu) laid
himself on a sheet of straw-mat spread on the ground in the coldest
nights of winter, or was used to go up and down the roof of his
house, having himself clad in heavy armour. It is for this that
ancient Japanese soldiers led extremely simple lives, and that they
often held the meeting-of-perseverance,[FN#233] in which they exposed
themselves to the coldest weather in winter or to the hottest weather
in summer. It is for this that Katsu Awa practised fencing in the
middle of night in a deep forest.[FN#234]
[FN#232] One of the greatest scholars of the Tokugawa period, who
died in 1728. See Etsu-wa-bun-ko.
[FN#233] The soldiers of the Tokugawa period were used to hold such
Ki-saburo, although he was a mere outlaw, having his left arm half
cut at the elbow in a quarrel, ordered his servant to cut it off with
a saw, and during the operation he could calmly sit talking and
laughing with his friends. Hiko-kuro (Takayama),[FN#235] a Japanese
loyalist of note, one evening happened to come to a bridge where two
robbers were lying in wait for him. They lay fully stretching
themselves, each with his head in the middle of the bridge, that he
might not pass across it without touching them. Hiko-kuro was not
excited nor disheartened, but calmly approached the vagabonds and
passed the bridge, treading upon their heads, which act so frightened
them that they took to their heels without doing any harm to
[FN#235] A well-known loyalist in the Tokugawa period, who died in
The history of Zen is full of the anecdotes that show Zen priests
were the lords of their bodies. Here we quote a single example by
way of illustration: Ta Hwui (Dai-ye), once having had a boil on his
hip, sent for a doctor, who told him that it was fatal, that he must
not sit in Meditation as usual. Then Ta Hwui said to the physician:
I must sit in Meditation with all my might during my remaining days,
for if your diagnosis be not mistaken, I shall die before long. He
sat day and night in constant Meditation, quite forgetful of his
boil, which was broken and gone by itself.[FN#237]
[FN#237] Sho-bo-gen-zo-zui-mon-ki, by Do-gen.
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