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The Irrationality Of The Belief Of Immortality
Occidental minds believe in a mysterious entity under the nam...

The Characteristics Of Do-gen The Founder Of The Japanese So To Sect
In the meantime seekers after a new truth gradually began to ...

Idealistic Scepticism Concerning Objective Reality
But extreme Idealism identifies 'to be' with 'to be known,' a...

All The Worlds In Ten Directions Are Buddha's Holy Land
We are to resume this problem in the following chapter. Suff...

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

The Disciples Under The Sixth Patriarch
Some time after this the Sixth Patriarch settled himself down...

The Fourth Patriarch And The Emperor Tai Tsung Tai-so
The Third Patriarch was succeeded by Tao Sin (Do-shin), who ...

The Application Of The Law Of Causation To Morals
Although it may be needless to state here the law of causatio...

Hinayanism And Its Doctrine
The doctrine of Transience was the first entrance gate of Hin...

The Law Of Balance
Nature governs the world with her law of balance. She puts t...

The Examination Of The Notion Of Self
The belief in immortality is based on the strong instinct of ...

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

How To Worship Buddha
The author of Vimalakirtti-nirdeca-sutra well explains our at...

The Spiritual Attainment Of The Sixth Patriarch
Some time before his death (in 675 A.D.) the Fifth Patriarch ...

The Five Ranks Of Merit
Thus far we have stated how to train our body and mind accord...

Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts
A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied ...

The Awakening Of The Innermost Wisdom
Having set ourselves free from the misconception of Self, nex...

The First Step In The Mental Training
Some of the old Zen masters are said to have attained to supr...

The Second And The Third Patriarchs
After the death of the First Patriarch, in A.D. 528, Hwui Ko ...

The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity
The innate tendency of self-preservation, which manifests its...




Zen In The Dark Age








The latter half of the Ashikaga period was the age of arms and
bloodshed. Every day the sun shone on the glittering armour of
marching soldiers. Every wind sighed over the lifeless remains of
the brave. Everywhere the din of battle resounded. Out of these
fighting feudal lords stood two champions. Each of them
distinguished himself as a veteran soldier and tactician. Each of
them was known as an experienced practiser of Zen. One was
Haru-nobu (Take-da, died in 1573), better known by his
Buddhist name, Shin-gen. The other was Teru-tora (Uye-sugi,
died in 1578), better known by his Buddhist name, Ken-shin. The
character of Shin-gen can be imagined from the fact that he never
built any castle or citadel or fortress to guard himself against his
enemy, but relied on his faithful vassals and people; while that of
Ken-shin, from the fact that he provided his enemy, Shin-gen, with
salt when the latter suffered from want of it, owing to the cowardly
stratagem of a rival lord. The heroic battles waged by these two
great generals against each other are the flowers of the Japanese
war-history. Tradition has it that when Shin-gen's army was put to
rout by the furious attacks of Ken-shin's troops, and a single
warrior mounted on a huge charger rode swiftly as a sweeping wind
into Shin-gen's head-quarters, down came a blow of the heavy sword
aimed at Shin-gen's forehead, with a question expressed in the
technical terms of Zen: "What shalt thou do in such a state at such a
moment?" Having no time to draw his sword, Shin-gen parried it with
his war-fan, answering simultaneously in Zen words: "A flake of snow
on the red-hot furnace!" Had not his attendants come to the rescue
Shin-gen's life might have gone as 'a flake of snow on the red-hot
furnace.' Afterwards the horseman was known to have been Ken-shin
himself. This tradition shows us how Zen was practically lived by
the Samurais of the Dark Age.


Shin-gen practised Zen under the instruction of Kwai-sen,
who was burned to death by Nobu-naga (O-da) in 1582. See
Hon-cho-ko-so-den.

Ken-shin learned Zen under Shu-ken, a So Ta master. See
To-jo-ren-to-roku.


Although the priests of other Buddhist sects had their share in these
bloody affairs, as was natural at such a time, yet Zen monks stood
aloof and simply cultivated their literature. Consequently, when all
the people grew entirely ignorant at the end of the Dark Age, the Zen
monks were the only men of letters. None can deny this merit of
their having preserved learning and prepared for its revival in the
following period.


After the introduction of Zen into Japan many important
books were written, and the following are chief doctrinal works:
Ko-zen-go-koku-ron, by Ei-sai; Sho bo-gen-zo; Gaku-do-yo-zin-shu;
Fu-kwan-za-zen-gi; Ei-hei-ko-roku, by Do-gen; Za-zen-yo-zin-ki; and
Den-ko-roku, by Kei-zan.






Next: Zen Under The Toku-gana Shogunate

Previous: Zen After The Downfall Of The Ho-jo Regency



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