Trevor Leggett’s books are concerned with

Trevor Leggett’s books are concerned with   Spreading the traditional Upanishadic Yoga of Cosmic Consciousness, based on the author’s training in a traditional Indian line and his translations of original Sanskrit – this Yoga process is centred on meditation   Zen parallels from his translations of Japanese texts of Zen and Budo (knightly arts)   Training stories of both traditions for daily life

A First Zen Reader

A FIRST ZEN READER Extract All Japanese know of the great painter Kano Tanyu, whose work exists even today. This is the story of the time when he painted the great dragon on the ceiling of the main hall at the temple. It was his masterpiece and is one of the art treasures of the world. At that time, the master of the temple at Myoshinji was the celebrated Gudo, famous as the teacher of the Emperor. He had heard that the dragons painted by Tanyu were so realistic that when a ceiling on which one had been painted fell down by chance, some said it had been caused by the movement of the dragon’s tail. When the painting of the dragon at Myoshinji was mooted, Gudo went to the painter’s house and told him: ‘For this special occasion I particularly want to have the painting of the dragon done from life.’ Naturally the painter was taken aback, and saying: ‘This is most unexpected. As a matter of fact, I am ashamed to say that I have never seen a living dragon,’ would have refused the commission. The Zen teacher, however, agreed that it would be unreasonable to expect a …

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A Second Zen Reader

A SECOND ZEN READER The Tiger’s Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings Extract From Yasenkanna: to remedy cases of over-tension: I said : May I hear of the use of the So cream? Hakuyu said : If the student finds in his meditation that the four great elements are out of harmony and body and mind are fatigued, he should rouse himself and make this meditation. Let him visualize placed on the crown of his head, that celestial So ointment, about as much as a duck’s egg, pure in colour and fragrance. Let him feel its exquisite essence and flavour, melting and filtering down through his head, its flow permeating downwards, slowly laving the shoulders and elbows, the sides of the breast and within the chest, the lungs, liver, stomach and internal organs, the back and spine and hip bones. All the old ailments and adhesions and pains in the five organs and six auxiliaries follow the mind downwards. There is a sound as of the trickling of water. Percolating through the whole body, the flow goes gently down the legs, stopping at the soles of the feet. Then let him make this meditation: that the elixir, having permeated …

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Encounters in Yoga and Zen

ENCOUNTERS IN YOGA AND ZEN Extracts …the phrase about pearls before swine came up in one of our discussions on the Japanese radio: ‘Give not what is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.’ Like many Buddhist priests, he knew the Gospels, and he said: ‘Yes, they trample the pearls, but why do they turn and rend you?’ I never heard any Christian speak of this, so I improvised: ‘It shows the mindless spite towards what they feel is superior but cannot understand.’ He said: ‘Not at all. The pigs cannot understand that the pearls are superior. You are blaming the pigs, but Christ is blaming the man who throws pearls to them. Naturally they think it is food and try to eat it, but find it is pebbles. So of course they are angry and want to bite him. It is no fault in the pigs. Don’t throw pearls to swine: it is not fair on the swine.’     Picture of the pig reading a book by Jacques Allais, a distinguished master of the Japanese Sui-boku style of brushed pictures.   Chains A …

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Fingers and Moons

FINGERS AND MOONS Extract As we know the tip of ice above the water is only a small part of the huge mass which is invisible. But with us human beings, us human ice-bergs, it is sometimes a little bit different. … Some of us are swimming around holding up a little tip of ice, and there’s no mass of ice underneath it. But the tip may be very convincing, as if it is shouting: ‘Watch out for my ice-berg!’ Synopsis The book is a transcript of three lectures, kept in its original colloquial style, given to the Buddhist Society. The message of the book is hidden in the title: You can say: A Finger Pointing To The Moon. But to understand the point, you have to try it. On a dark night, stand and point to the moon. When you focus on your finger, it is clear and solid, but the moon is a hazy double ghost. Now focus on the moon; it becomes clear and single, but the finger is a transparent double ghost. It’s the same with spiritual practice. You do have to use the methods, and while you do, they are clear but the Goal is …

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Realization of the Supreme Self

REALIZATION OF THE SUPREME SELF Extract “One evidence is that texts like the Gita present us with graded practical experiments. Do these, it says, and you can have direct experience of a God who is not simply your own idea. The experience is no illusion, because it is fruitful in life; it gives not only calm inner clarity, but also inspiration and energy for action. You will come to know the divine purpose in outline, and your own proper part in it in detail.” “In deep meditation one experiences how everything is dying: body, mind and every thought. But one can find something that does not die – the immortal in the mortal. And when death comes there is the awareness in the meditator: “I have been here before.” Synopsis The Bhagavad Gita (‘Sung By The Lord’, about 500 BC) is a mystical section of the huge verse epic Mahabharata, and it is often called the Bible of India. Much of the religious instruction in the epic, like that of the still more ancient Vedas themselves, is concerned with how to worship and act so as to bring about rewards in the form of an ideal social order, individual prosperity, …

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Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans

THE WARRIOR KOANS Extract Painting the nature Ekichu, the 7th master of Jufukuji, was famous as a painter. One day Nobumitsu came to see him and asked whether he could paint the fragrance described in the famous line ‘After walking through flowers, the horse’s hoof is fragrant.’ The teacher drew a horse’s hoof and a butterfly fluttering round it (attractedby the fragrance). Then Nobumitsu quoted the line ‘ Spring breeze over the river bank ‘ andasked for a picture of the breeze. The teacher drew a branch of willow waving. Nobumitsu cited the famous Zen phrase : ‘A finger direct to the human heart, See the nature to be Buddha ‘. He asked for a picture of the heart. The teacher picked up the brush and flicked a spot of ink onto Nobumitsu’s face. The warrior was surprised and annoyed, and the teacher rapidly sketched the angry face. Then Nobumitsu asked for a picture of the ‘nature’ as in the phrase ‘see the nature’.The teacher broke the brush and said, ‘That’s the picture’. Nobumitsu did not understand and the teacher remarked, ‘If you haven’t got that seeing eye, you can’t see it.’ Nobumitsu said, ‘ Take another brush and paint …

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Sankara on the Yoga Sutras

SANKARA ON THE YOGA SUTRAS Translation by Trevor Leggett About the text This is a ground breaking translation of a major work which surfaced only in 1952. It claims to be by S’ankara Bhagavatpada (700AD), India’s greatest philosopher and spiritual teacher. If accepted as authentic, which seems increasingly likely, it will transform S’ankara studies and parts of Indian philosophical tradition. There is a chapter on this text in Wilhelm Halbfass: Tradition and Relflection, which discusses the text and some main concepts, though not the yoga practices. It is a sub-commentary on the Vyasa commentary (about 500 AD) to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (about 200 AD). This text will entail a re-thinking of S’ankara and his presentation of the Advaita Non-dual doctrine and practice. In his Brahma Sutra commentary, S’ankara rejects two basic tenets of the Yoga school, but accepts yoga practice as authoritative for meditation, and indeed God-vision (sutra III.2.24). S’ankara’s Gita commentary has many of the technical terms of yoga as for instance samahita-citta (8 times); Madhusudana in his own later sub-commentary on the S’ankara, cites nearly all of the first 51 sutras of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra first part. Here in this massive newly discovered text, S’ankara comments …

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Shogi: Japan’s Game of Strategy

SHOGI Japan’s Game of Strategy 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 …

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The Chapter of the Self

THE CHAPTER OF THE SELF Extracts   S’ankara in the 8th century AD founded four main monasteries, one in each of the four corners of India. The senior in status is at Sringeri in the south, and the late HH Abhinava Vidyatirtha was 35th in unbroken succession there from the founder; he took an active interest in the present book and the later translation of S’ankara’s Yoga Sutra commentary. Basic text, from a lost Upanishad: He is great, a mass of splendour, all-pervading, the Lord. The yogi who practises realization of that in everything, and always holds to firmness in that, will see that which is hard to see and subtle, and ejoice. And whoever sees the Self alone in everything, he is Brahman, glorious in the highest heaven. From the S’ankara commentary: The doshas are obsessive passions, fears, and convictions which obstruct the vision of the Self; the yogas are thepractices which overcome the doshas.   It may be asked, how are those who want freedom to put forth the tremendous efforts in the yogas of angerlessness and the others, which are opposed to the doshas, the cause of life itself? Yogas and doshas are mutually exclusive, like movement …

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The Dragon Mask

THE CHAPTER OF THE SELF Extracts   S’ankara in the 8th century AD founded four main monasteries, one in each of the four corners of India. The senior in status is at Sringeri in the south, and the late HH Abhinava Vidyatirtha was 35th in unbroken succession there from the founder; he took an active interest in the present book and the later translation of S’ankara’s Yoga Sutra commentary. Basic text, from a lost Upanishad: He is great, a mass of splendour, all-pervading, the Lord. The yogi who practises realization of that in everything, and always holds to firmness in that, will see that which is hard to see and subtle, and ejoice. And whoever sees the Self alone in everything, he is Brahman, glorious in the highest heaven. From the S’ankara commentary: The doshas are obsessive passions, fears, and convictions which obstruct the vision of the Self; the yogas are thepractices which overcome the doshas.   It may be asked, how are those who want freedom to put forth the tremendous efforts in the yogas of angerlessness and the others, which are opposed to the doshas, the cause of life itself? Yogas and doshas are mutually exclusive, like movement …

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The Old Zen Master

“The Old Zen Master – Inspirations for Awakening” By Trevor Leggett This book first published March 2000, consists mainly of talks originally given to the Buddhist society of London over the previous 10 years. The Old Zen Master – Inspirations for Awakening Specimen Chapters Regrets Casual Doubts Taking Refuge in the Sangha Studying the Holy Texts Leaves and Moss East and West Triumph or Success A Hundred Hearings, Not Like One Seeing Sword and Mind Jottings from Zen Master Bukko If You’re Going to Die, Die Quick! Robes of Honour Extract from “Robes of Honour” “…In these ways, we put robes of honour on ourselves, and they hamper us and we can’t do the job properly. In Judo there is a certain grading contest called ‘one-against-ten.’ You have to take on ten men-one after another. They are generally a couple of grades below you, and with luck are so terrified of you, that it is easy to dispose of them. But one or two of them think, ‘Everybody knows I’m going to lose anyway, so I’ve nothing to lose,’ and they come shooting at you, taking fantastic risks. Because you are so sure of your own superiority, which he doesn’t …

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The Spirit of Budo

THE SPIRIT OF BUDO Sub title: Old Traditions for Present-day Life Extract The Unforgettable Words of Tani   One evening, however, I felt very tired with a headache. At about seven, I picked up my towel and prepared to leave the dojo. Tani looked across and asked, ‘Where are you going?’ I replied, ‘I feel tired and I’ve got a headache. I’ll come tomorrow’. Tani asked quietly: ‘If a man rushes at you in the street with a hammer, wanting to kill you, can you say, “I feel tired and I’ve got a headache, so come back tomorrow”?’ Then he turned away. His words were like a thunderbolt. I went back on to the mat and practised. After half an hour he said, ‘All right, go home now’. Somehow I felt I did not want to. I went on practising, but he gave me a little push with a smile and repeated, ‘Go now, go now’. This time I went. Later in life, when I have promised to do something but then have been tired or sometimes even ill, I wanted to make an excuse. Tani’s words would return to me: ‘Can you say, “I feel tired and I’ve got …

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Three Ages of Zen

THREE AGES OF ZEN Extract From Part III, Autobiography of Zen Master Tsuji Somei 1. Master Gyodo used to say:   ‘Zen is something about which someone who doesn’t really know can still manage to write without giving himself away. But if you hear him speak just a couple of words, you know his inner state exactly.’   ‘In order to see the Nature, it has to be fierce as a lion; but after that realization, the practice has to go slow like an elephant.’   ‘If you get through the first barrier (the first koan) without much trouble, you get stuck afterwards and can’t get on. It’s as if you’d thrust your hand into a glue pot.’   ‘However much you go to Zen interviews, and however many koans you notch up, if you don’t get to the great peace …….’   ‘Going simply by the number of koans you pass – however many they may be, it’s no good unless you come to the samadhi of no-thought. In the samadhi of no-thought, there’s no soul, there’s no body, there are no objects of the senses, much less any koans.’   After the experience of profound enlightenment which I …

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Zen and the Ways

ZEN AND THE WAYS Extract One morning, Abbot Ekido of the Zen temple Tentoku-in heard the dawn bell being rung, and after a little he called his attendant from the next room and asked: ‘Who is ringing the bell this morning?’ The attendant said it was a newly entered boy. The abbot later called the boy and asked: ‘When you rang the dawn bell today, what were you thinking about? …. That was no ordinary ringing.’ Then the boy said: ‘I once heard that whatever you do, it must be service of the Buddha. I was told to meditate on the things as Buddha. So this morning I was thinking that the bell is Buddha, and that each time I rang it the Buddha’s voice was sounding out. Each time I was making a bow, and I felt I was ringing it as a worship.’ This boy later became the head of the great training temple of Eiheiji: his name was Dengo Morita. Synopsis In Japanese Zen, every activity in life, including the martial arts, is thought to be a field for practising inner control, meditation and inspiration. They are not separate, but even the techniques influence each other. The …

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