Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans by Trevor Leggett

By Trevor Leggett

Samurai Zen brings jointly a hundred of the infrequent riddles which characterize the middle religious self-discipline of Japan's historic Samurai culture. courting from thirteenth-century documents of Japan's Kamakura temples, and commonly guarded with a reverent secrecy, they replicate the earliest manifestation of natural Zen in Japan. Created by way of Zen Masters for his or her warrior students, the japanese Koans use incidents from daily life - a damaged tea-cup, a water-jar, a material - to convey the warrior students of the Samurai to the Zen awareness. Their objective is to allow a widening of consciouness past the illusions of the restricted self, and a pleased suggestion in lifestyles - a kingdom that has been in comparison to being loose lower than a blue sky after imprisonment.

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Nyozen’s lay name was Takihime (or Takino according to the account in the Buked¯i o¯shinshu¯ – Imai), and she had been of the household of O [ 60 ] J I Z O¯ STANDS UP Toshiharu, a retainer of the Uesugi family. She trained under Geno¯, the founder of Kaizo¯ji temple, and in 1313 she grasped the essence of Zen, presenting this poem to her teacher: The bottom fell out of the bucket of that woman of humble birth; The pale moon of dawn is caught in the rain-puddles  (1) What does the poem about the water from the waterpipe caught in the bucket really mean?

Ichinyo (Miyata Chu¯yu¯), Ryu¯mon (Hirata Yasumaru) and others examined the records of Zen at the palace; Mumon ¯ i Kiyomichi), Rakuzan (Suzuki Yoshitaka) and others took (O the documents on sho¯gun Zen; Ryo¯zen (Ishii Tokihisa), Katei (Yamada Toshiaki) and others studied warrior Zen; Daian and Kido¯ worked solely on Kamakura Zen. But many of them had official duties and little time for the research, and if they were sent abroad it had to be set aside. Moreover those officials in the ministries of Education and the Army who had given support round about 1878, were completely occupied with their political responsibilities when the Satsuma rebellion broke out, and had no opportunity for anything else.

What would you be wanting with a word or half a word? The old master Daikaku went deep into the forest and put one word down there, and now the whole Zen world is tearing itself to pieces on the thorns, trying to find it. If the reverend Ryo¯-A before me wishes to grasp that one word, then without opening the mouth, do you recite the su¯tra of noword. If you fail in your awareness of the no-word, you will at once lose the one word. Displayed, the one word is [ 54 ] DAIKAKU’S ONE-ROBE ZEN set above the thirty-three heavens; buried, it is at the bottom of the eighth great hell.

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