A First Zen Reader extract

In whatever age, the problem of name and money has always been the worst. It is on this point that we go astray or are enlightened, that we sink or swim. There are only two alternatives: to be a king who can use name and money, or to be a slave rushing about in pursuit of them. Many people are entirely the latter. The illustrious Emperor Kiso of the T’ang Dynasty in China once made a visit to the Kinzanji temple on the Yangtze River. At the temple the scenery is exceptionally fine, and the throne was set at the top of the temple tower, giving the best view of the river. The emperor was conducted to his seat. He saw on the great river countless boats, some going up and some going down, some to the right and some to the left, so that it might almost have been mistaken for the sea. He was overjoyed to see the prosperity of the country he ruled: trade and commerce thus flourishing-what we should call today a fully developed country. At his side was standing the abbot of the temple, Zen master Obaku, and the emperor remarked to him: ”How many …

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A Second Zen Reader extract

YASENKANNA by Hakuin When as a beginner I entered on the Way, I vowed to practise with heroic faith and indomitable spirit. After a mere three years of strenuous effort, suddenly one night the moment came, when all my old doubts melted away down to their very roots. The age-old Karma-root of birth-and-death was erased utterly. I thought to myself: ‘The way is never distant. Strange that the ancients spoke of twenty or thirty years, whereas I …’ After some months lost in dancing joy, I looked at my life. The spheres of activity and stillness were not at all in harmony; I found I was not free to either take up a thing or leave it. I thought: ‘Let me boldly plunge again into spiritual practice and once more throw away my life in it.’ Teeth clenched and eyes aglare, I sought to free myself from food and sleep. Before a month had passed the heart-fire mounted to my head, my lungs were burning but my legs felt as if freezing in ice and snow. In my ears was a rushing sound as of a stream in a valley. My courage failed and I was in an attitude of …

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Championship Judo extract

How to Build Up Attacking Movement One purpose ofthis book is to explain how to build up attacks on Taiotoshi and its main partner Ouchigari, but you can use the method in learning how to master any main throw. Read the whole book quickly once, and then repeatedly run through the flicker at the top right from page 63 backwards to page 13. Then you should have a rough idea of Taiotoshi and Ouchi, and of the spirit of Judo movement. Your Judo progress depends on three main things: free practice (and contest); formal practice of the movements; study. Get first a rough idea of the movement and keep trying it vigorously and enterprisingly in free practice; don’t fuss too much with detail at this stage. Taiotoshi is called in Japan a ‘choshi-waza’, which means that timing and rhythm are all-important. One day your opponent will go down when you hardly realize you have thrown him, and this will give you an idea of what the throw really is. Study is to help you understand the principles of the throw; formal practice is to help you to begin to ‘feel’ the movement. After a week or so splashing around with …

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Encounters in Yoga and Zen extract

Cloth and Stone Cloth against cloth, or stone against stone: No clear result, and it is meaningless. Catch the flung stone in the cloth, Pin the wind-fluttered cloth with a stone. This verse comes in a scroll of spiritual training belonging to one of the knightly arts in the Far East. In these traditions, instruction is given in the form of vivid images, not in terms of logical categories; it is meant to be a stimulus to living inspiration, not dead analysis. The apparent exactitudes of logic turn out to be of very limited value when applied to life, because then the terms can never be precisely defined. In the verse, the catching cloth stands for what is technically called ‘softness’, which is not the same as weakness; the stone stands for hardness, not the same as strength. Softness has a special meaning: it is not merely giving way or doing nothing. There is a strength in softness, but it is not the hard strength of rigidity which has an inherent weakness, namely incapacity to adapt. There is another verse which illustrates these distinctions: Strong in their softness are the sprays of wisteria creeper, The pine in its hardness is …

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Fingers and Moons extract

There was a Master called Iida, some of whose books are difficult to read. They are old books from the beginning of the last century, and I went over parts of one of them with a good Zen teacher who is also an excellent scholar, and he told me: In places, I don’t know what the old boy meant. He just throws difficult Chinese texts at you.’ In one section, however, Iida lists in an illuminating way some of what a former Master (Master Gudo) called ‘Zen illness’. The first Zen illness  is ‘lack of faith’ — that your faith doesn’t go far enough. Iida said, ‘It isn’t so much faith in what will be, as faith in what is’ We have to have faith in what now. We all know what people say they think; it comes out in their words. But often those same words also give away the true state of affairs. Those who have done much Judo might sometimes be asked to control people who are drunk. And anybody who has ever had to do that is very familiar with the phrase: ‘I’m not so think as you drunk I am!’ We know what he means, …

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Jewels from the Indranet extract

Though one has to practise on a definite line, we revere all the great traditions and schools; my teacher often used to refer to the great Moslem mystic, Rumi, and this is a little poem on the subject. You will see that the presentation is slightly different, but you will see the light, the water and the living stream which is below the desert. It is presented in the terms of Islamic mysticism. A certain man was crying “Allah!” all night until his lips grew sweet in praise of him. The devil said: “Oh garrulous man, what is all this ‘Allah!’ Not a single response is coming from the throne. How long will you go on crying ‘Allah’ with grim face?” The man became broken hearted and lay down and slept. In a dream he saw the prophet Elijah in a garden, who said to him: “Hark! You have held back at praising God, why do you repent at having called on him?” The man replied: “No ‘Here Am l’ is coming in response, hence I fear I have been turned away from the Door.” Elijah said: “Nay. God saith that ‘Allah!’ of thine is my ‘Here Am I’, and …

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Kata Judo extract

Seoinage (Notes) If we take the original three matlengths distance as the ‘demonstration space’, then Tori can mentally mark out for himself the spot which is the centre. He often finishes the second (left) Ukiotoshi about three feet on Uke’s side of the centre. The directions are for Tori and Uke to ‘approach each other’, but in fact Tori generally stands almost still. If he likes he can get himself on to the centre spot to receive the Seoinage attack. But he must do this while Uke is getting up, otherwise it will throw Uke out. In all the waza which begin with a blow, it is Uke who adjusts the distance, and Tori must stand still so that Uke gets himself right. Uke must be careful to step straight forward with the right foot and not across. Uke’s weight comes between the front and right front corner, that is, on his middle toes. The usual thing is for Uke to form his fist as he steps forward with the left foot; he raises it above his right shoulder at the end of the step. Then with the right step he brings it over the top down towards the top …

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Lotus Lake Dragon Pool extract

Devil, Devil THERE IS a method of reciting certain sutras, or parts of sutras, in which special attention is put on to the sound uttered. The would-be reciter sometimes practices for a time in the open, intoning the sonorous Chinese monosyllables into the wind on the edge of a cliff, or against the roar of a waterfall. If all goes well, gradually he comes to feel that he is bringing out all his insides with the utterance, and that his voice is penetrating the whole scene before him. It is technically called “reciting the sutra with the whole body.” When he can realize the feeling, he practices to retain it even when he repeats the sutra very softly. He still feels his body one with the sound, and syllables resonating with the universe. It can take a long time to acquire skill in this practice, and some of those who do might certainly have reason to feel pleased with themselves. One of the lesser-known sutras is thought to be particularly suited to this practice, and a city businessman, a practitioner of the method, having heard about it, asked his teacher to coach him in it. He took as his exercise …

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Realization of the Supreme Self extract

Chapter VIII Yoga-Power Strength of Yoga The practice of the eighth chapter presents mainly meditations on the Lord felt as within the body. First the mind and the prāṇa currents of vital energy are focussed at a centre in the heart. Then the focussed attention moves up with them to a point on the forehead roughly between the eyebrows. People who try this soon find that the concentration becomes confused. They are not sure when they have enough concentration to begin the move upward, and become indecisive. The Gītā explains that it is done, and can only be done, by what it calls the ‘strength of yoga’. Śaṅkara explains that this strength is in fact the after-effects of long practice, repeated till the saṃskāra-impressions have been formed strongly in the causal part at the root of the mind. The process is then accomplished spontaneously, so to speak, independent of the discursive mind. Repeated practice has laid down impressions which now hold the samādhi completely steady. It becomes a luminous movement, rising of itself, as it were. It is stronger than any interruption because the meditation is based on a natural current, latent in the ordinary man, but now showing itself. It …

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Samurai Zen:The Warrior Koans extract

Kamakura Zen The collection of 100 odd koans here presented in translation was put together in 1545, under the name Shonan Kattoroku, from records in the Kamakura temples dating back to the foundation of Kenchoji in 1253 when pure Zen first came to Japan. For a long time the teachers at Kamakura were mainly Chinese masters, who came in a stream for over a century. As a result, this Zen was conducted between masters and pupils not fluent in each other’s language. On the political and religious background, there are explanations in my book Zen and the Ways, in which I translated about one quarter of these koans. In that book I gave some account of the then Rinzai system of koan riddles, and the modifications that were introduced when this line of Zen came to Japan. The text in its present form was reconstituted from fragmentary records in Kenchoji and other temples in Kamakura by Imai Fukuzan, a great scholar of Zen in the early part of this century. He was joint author, with Nakagawa Shuan, of a standard reference book of Zen phrases, Zengo-jii- Imai was himself a veteran Zen practitioner, as had been his father before him, …

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Sankara on the Yoga Sutras extract

Extracts from S’ankara on the Yoga Sutras In these extracts the translator proposes to give some idea of the original material which this sub-commentary provides for the study of the Yoga Sutras. Purely technical discussions are not included. It is intended that the meaning should be lucid and clear to the general reader.   May/June 2000 The Parallel with Medical Treatment Introductory Note At the beginning of his sub-commentary, S’ankara compares the yogic methods to the four-fold classification of medical treatment. This is familiar in even early Buddhist texts, and it had been assumed that Buddhists adopted it from medical texts. But, as Wezler has shown, the four-fold classification does not appear in medical texts before about 200 AD. Vyasa in the second extract below reproduces the Buddhist simile, and S’ankara echoes it in the first two but the simile in the third one is perhaps original to this text. We can note that S’ankara uses the term Samyagdarsana (right vision), a favourite word which appears repeatedly in the text, not so in Vyasa. Extract 1: Sutra I.1 (p51): No one will follow through the practices and restrictions of yoga unless the goal and the related means to it have …

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Yoga Sutras introduction for the general reader

The text translated here is an historical find: an unknown commentary on the Yoga sutra-s of Patanjali by Sankara, the most eminent philosopher of ancient India. Present indications are that it is likely to be authentic, which would date it about ad 700. The many references to Yoga meditation in his accepted works have sometimes been regarded as concessions to accepted ideas of the time, and not really his own views. If he has chosen to write a commentary on Yoga meditation, it must have been a central part of his own standpoint, although he was opposed to some of the philosophical doctrines of the official Yoga school. One would expect a tendency to modify those unacceptable doctrines, if this text is really by Sankara. This turns out to be the case. For those familiar with yoga meditation, who want to go straight into the text, here is the method of presentation: (1)    The basic text, the Yoga sutra-s of Patanjali (about ad 300), is displayed in large type thus: sutra I.1 Now the exposition of yoga (2)    Below each sutra is a (mostly brief) commentary by Vyasa (about ad 600). This is printed in italics, and set in from the left-hand margin. Sometimes this commentary is printed in separate paragraphs. …

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Japanese Chess extract

The Paratroops Now that you have an idea of how the pieces work, it is time to introduce you to a revolutionary feature of Shogi, found in no other form of chess. This is the “drop” – a sort of paratroop attack. When you capture an enemy, it is not dead. It becomes yours and you keep it by the side of the board. Any time, instead of a move, you can drop one of these captured men on any vacant square. The piece points towards the enemy, and it is your piece and works for you.   The King moves like a chess king: the rook, bishop, knight have basically similiar moves to the corresponding chess pieces; the Lance is a Rook that can move only straight forward down a file. The pieces are here shown with the Japanese character on top, and a Western-style icon (such as a crown for the King, and a castle for the Rook), and a big initial letter (K or R) below that. In this way players will gradually become accustomed to the Japanese characters, but having always the key on the piece. Two specifically Shogi pieces are the Gold and Silver Generals: they are like a weaker King. © Trevor Leggett  

The Chapter of the Self extract

 The Four Feelings The meditations on four feelings which are to be intensified through meditation are called bhavana, they are: friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the suffering, goodwill towards virtue, and overlooking sin. Shankara in his commentary explains that these are meditations which must actualize themselves. Until the reactions in ordinary life have begun to modify themselves along the lines of the meditations, the cultivation of intensity has only begun. Friendliness -maitri, a great word in Buddhism – is explained as a general gladness at the good fortune and happiness of another. The Mahatma Balarama Udasin, whom Dr Shastri knew and held in great regard, remarks that this friendliness must not be partisanship, what the world calls friendship. It has to be something like the friendliness of the Lord towards all beings – not taking the side of one against another. Shankara in his Gita commentary (to V. 29) stresses meditation on the Lord as the friend of all, who does good to them without expecting any return for it, and who lies in the hearts of all. Worldly friendship, on the other hand, is towards one person identified with body-mind, and involves hatred of those who are against …

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The Dragon Mask extract

With age, a judo expert’s speed begins to decline and he has to find means to offset this against up and coming opponents. One of them is to establish a psychological ascendancy over a younger man who may be actually stronger in fighting ability. This can be done by preventing the junior from estimating the respective standards of ability. An experienced man can make an estimate easily in most cases by merely looking at the movement, but a young man generally cannot do it without something definite to work on, and he can be prevented from getting the information. The senior’s attacking policy is to attempt to throw only when it is certain to succeed – in other words, never to fail in a throw. This often means waiting for quite a time till the opponent takes some risk and so gives an opportunity. But promising young judo men take risks all the time; they get bored unless they are trying something. The senior’s defending policy is never to take any risk himself, so that the opponent never scores. This is not difficult for a patient man. The physical result of these policies is that in a practice of say …

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The Old Zen Master extract

Jottings from Zen Master Bukko Bukko (Buddha-Light) was an honorific title bestowed posthumously by the Japanese Emperor on a Chinese monk, Tsu Yuen, one of the thirteenthcentury Buddhist teachers who brought Zen to Japan. From childhood, Bukko had a fondness for temples and Buddhism. One day he heard a monk recite two lines from a famous Taoist classic: The shadow of the bamboo sweeps the steps, but the dust does not stir; The moon’s disc bores into the lake, but the water shows no scar. This inspired him to search, and finally he found a teacher who set him the koan riddle: No Buddhanature in a dog. It took him six years to pass this one. He could now sit in meditation for long periods without tiring. Sometimes he passed into trance where breath stops. He said that the inner state was that of a bird escaping from a cage. After this, when he closed his eyes he saw nothing but vast space, and when he opened them he saw everything in this vastness. The teacher still did not confirm this as final but gave him another koan. He passed this second one under the teacher’s successor, who gave him …

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The Spirit of Budo extract

I began Judo in 1930 at the Budokwai in London, the oldest Judo club in Europe. I was 16 years old. Our teachers were the famous Yukio Tani, 4th dan, who was one of those who had introduced Judo to the West, and Gunji Koizumi, an art expert and also 4th dan. Tani came from a line of jujutsu teachers; his grandfather had given exhibitions before the shogun. While Tani never learnt English well, Koizumi was a cultured man who spoke and wrote good English. The amazing success of jujutsu and Judo, demonstrated by Tani and others against Western wrestlers and boxers at the beginning of the century, had given them a magical reputation of wizardry in the physical realm. Phrases like ‘Verily the soft controls the hard’ (ju yoku go o seisu) became well known. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan and Kaiten Nukariya’s ‘Religion of the Samurai’ led to idealization of the supposed ‘living chivalry’ of Japan. Even sceptical writers like H.G. Wells were impressed. One evening I saw a pair of straw sandals in the Budokwai changing room. They belonged to Tani. I noticed that underneath each sole there was a small piece of metal fixed and wondered …

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Three Ages of Zen extract

 The bucket without a bottom Imai’s note: The nun Mujaku, whose lay name was Chiyono, was a woman of Akita who married and had one daughter. In 1276, when she was thirty-four, her husband died, and she could not get over the grief. She became a nun, and trained under Bukko. The story is that on the evening of a fifteenth day of August, when she was filling her lacquer flower-bucket where the valley stream comes down, the bottom fell out; seeing the water spilling she had a flash of insight, and made a poem on it to present to the teacher. Later he set her a classical koan, Three pivot-phrases of Oryu, and examined her minutely on it, and she was able to meet the questions. Again she continued interviews with him for a long time, and in the end he “passed over the robe and bowl,” namely, authorized her as a successor to teach. Uesugi, Nikaido, and others had built Keiaiji temple in Kyoto, and asked her to become the first teacher there. It was not unusual in Zen for a teacher to be a woman. After Bukko died, a hermitage called Shomyakuan was built for her at …

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Zen and the Ways extract

Shin and ki Shin is the technical word for ‘heart’, including all we call mind and more. Ki is something like ‘vital spirit’. An example is better than theory: in picking up a teacup or throwing an opponent, shin is the notion of doing it, including the emotional colouring, ki is the ‘feel’ of initiating and continuing the movement conformably to distances and timing. What is technically called strength is grasping the teacup or making the throw: ki is still functioning, but with untrained people it tends to be felt less clearly when strength is being exerted. These things may be pure and in conformity with the cosmic principle (ri), or impure and centred round an individual self. When shin is pure, thoughts do not arise from selfishness or passion, and inspiration passes through it. When impure, it is distorted and dark: everything has to pass through filters of ‘will this be good for me?’ ‘will this get me what I want?’ ‘how shall I look while I am doing it?’ ‘what shall I do if it does not come off?’ ‘how terrible that might be!’ and so on. It is tense (‘hard’) and cannot adapt to changing situations. When …

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