Samurai The Ancient Buddhist Pantheon
The ancient Buddhist pantheon was full of deities or Buddhas,...
The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity
The innate tendency of self-preservation, which manifests its...
The Progress And Hope Of Life
How many myriads of years have passed since the germs of life...
The Third Step In The Mental Training
To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, wh...
The Errors Of Philosophical Pessimists And Religious Optimists
Philosophical pessimists[FN#214] maintain that there are on e...
Zen In The Dark Age
The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms an...
The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...
The Establishment Of The Rin Zai School Of Zen In Japan
[FN#67] The Lin Tsi school was started by Nan Yoh, a pr...
Life Consists In Conflict
Life consists in conflict. So long as man remains a social a...
Buddha Dwelling In The Individual Mind
Enlightened Consciousness in the individual mind acquires for...
Idealism Is A Potent Medicine For Self-created Mental Disease
In so far as Buddhist idealism refers to the world of sense, ...
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 ...
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...
The Resemblance Of The Zen Monk To The Samurai
Let us point out in brief the similarities between Zen and Ja...
Difficulties Are No Match For The Optimist
How can we suppose that we, the children of Buddha, are put a...
If there be no individual soul either in mind or body, where ...
Man Is Both Good-natured And Bad-natured According To Yan Hiung
According to Yang Hiung and his followers, good is no less re...
Epicureanism And Life
There are a good many people always buoyant in spirit and mir...
The Spiritual Attainment Of The Sixth Patriarch
Some time before his death (in 675 A.D.) the Fifth Patriarch
Zen Is Iconoclastic
For the followers of Bodhidharma, however, this conception of...
The Third Step In The Mental Training
To be the lord of mind is more essential to Enlightenment, which, in
a sense, is the clearing away of illusions, the putting out of mean
desires and passions, and the awakening of the innermost wisdom. He
alone can attain to real happiness who has perfect control over his
passions tending to disturb the equilibrium of his mind. Such
passions as anger, hatred, jealousy, sorrow, worry, grudge, and fear
always untune one's mood and break the harmony of one's mind. They
poison one's body, not in a figurative, but in a literal sense of the
word. Obnoxious passions once aroused never fail to bring about the
physiological change in the nerves, in the organs, and eventually in
the whole constitution, and leave those injurious impressions that
make one more liable to passions of similar nature.
We do not mean, however, that we ought to be cold and passionless, as
the most ancient Hinayanists were used to be. Such an attitude has
been blamed by Zen masters. What is the best way of living for us
monks? asked a monk to Yun Ku (Un-go), who replied: You had better
live among mountains. Then the monk bowed politely to the teacher,
who questioned: How did you understand me? Monks, as I
understood, answered the man, ought to keep their hearts as
immovable as mountains, not being moved either by good or by evil,
either by birth or by death, either by prosperity or by adversity.
Hereupon Yun Ku struck the monk with his stick and said: You forsake
the Way of the old sages, and will bring my followers to perdition!
Then, turning to another monk, inquired: How did you understand me?
Monks, as I understand, replied the man, ought to shut their eyes
to attractive sights and close their ears to musical notes. You,
too, exclaimed Yun Ka, forsake the Way of the old sages, and will
bring my followers to perdition! An old woman, to quote another
example repeatedly told by Zen masters, used to give food and
clothing to a monk for a score of years. One day she instructed a
young girl to embrace and ask him: How do you feel now? A
lifeless tree, replied the monk coolly, stands on cold rock. There
is no warmth, as if in the coldest season of the year. The matron,
being told of this, observed: Oh that I have made offerings to such
a vulgar fellow for twenty years! She forced the monk to leave the
temple and reduced it to ashes.[FN#238]
[FN#238] These instances are quoted from Zen-rin-rui-shu.
If you want to secure Dhyana, let go of your anxieties and failures
in the past; let bygones be bygones; cast aside enmity, shame, and
trouble, never admit them into your brain; let pass the imagination
and anticipation of future hardships and sufferings; let go of all
your annoyances, vexations, doubts, melancholies, that impede your
speed in the race of the struggle for existence. As the miser sets
his heart on worthless dross and accumulates it, so an unenlightened
person clings to worthless mental dross and spiritual rubbish, and
makes his mind a dust-heap. Some people constantly dwell on the
minute details of their unfortunate circumstances, to make themselves
more unfortunate than they really are; some go over and over again
the symptoms of their disease to think themselves into serious
illness; and some actually bring evils on them by having them
constantly in view and waiting for them. A man asked Poh Chang
(Hyaku-jo): How shall I learn the Law? Eat when you are hungry,
replied the teacher; sleep when you are tired. People do not
simply eat at table, but think of hundreds of things; they do not
simply sleep in bed, but think of thousands of things.[FN#239]
[FN#239] E-gen and Den-to-roku.
A ridiculous thing it is, in fact, that man or woman, endowed with
the same nature as Buddha's, born the lord of all material objects,
is ever upset by petty cares, haunted by the fearful phantoms of his
or her own creation, and burning up his or her energy in a fit of
passion, wasting his or her vitality for the sake of foolish or
It is a man who can keep the balance of his mind under any
circumstances, who can be calm and serene in the hottest strife of
life, that is worthy of success, reward, respect, and reputation, for
he is the master of men. It was at the age of forty-seven that Wang
Yang Ming[FN#240] (O-yo-mei) won a splendid victory over the rebel
army which threatened the throne of the Ming dynasty. During that
warfare Wang was giving a course of lectures to a number of students
at the headquarters of the army, of which he was the
Commander-in-chief. At the very outset of the battle a messenger
brought him the news of defeat of the foremost ranks. All the
students were terror-stricken and grew pale at the unfortunate
tidings, but the teacher was not a whit disturbed by it. Some time
after another messenger brought in the news of complete rout of the
enemy. All the students, enraptured, stood up and cheered, but he
was as cool as before, and did not break off lecturing. Thus the
practiser of Zen has so perfect control over his heart that he can
keep presence of mind under an impending danger, even in the presence
of death itself.
[FN#240] The founder of the Wang School of Confucianism, a practiser
of Meditation, who was born in 1472, and died at the age of
fifty-seven in 1529.
It was at the age of twenty-three that Haku-in got on board a boat
bound for the Eastern Provinces, which met with a tempest and was
almost wrecked. All the passengers were laid low with fear and
fatigue, but Haku-in enjoyed a quiet sleep during the storm, as if he
were lying on a comfortable bed. It was in the fifth of Mei-ji era
that Doku-on[FN#241] lived for some time in the city of Tokyo, whom
some Christian zealots attempted to murder. One day he met with a
few young men equipped with swords at the gate of his temple. We
want to see Doku-on; go and tell him, said they to the priest. I
am Doku-on, replied he calmly, whom you want to see, gentlemen.
What can I do for you? We have come to ask you a favour; we are
Christians; we want your hoary head. So saying they were ready to
attack him, who, smiling, replied: All right, gentlemen. Behead me
forthwith, if you please. Surprised by this unexpected boldness on
the part of the priest, they turned back without harming even a hair
of the old Buddhist.[FN#242]
[FN#241] Doku On (Ogino), a distinguished Zen master, an abbot of
So-koku-ji, who was born in 1818, and died in 1895.
[FN#242] Kin-sei-zen-rin-gen-ko-roku, by D. Mori.
These teachers could through long practice constantly keep their
minds buoyant, casting aside useless encumbrances of idle thoughts;
bright, driving off the dark cloud of melancholy; tranquil, putting
down turbulent waves of passion; pure, cleaning away the dust and
ashes of illusion; and serene, brushing off the cobwebs of doubt and
fear. The only means of securing all this is to realize the
conscious union with the Universal Life through the Enlightened
Consciousness, which can be awakened by dint of Dhyana.
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