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


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.

The Characteristics Of Do-gen The Founder Of The Japanese So To Sect The Creative Force Of Nature And Humanity facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail