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

The main body of the book consists of two translations: A Tongue-tip Taste of Zen, by Primate Takashina Rosen, who was the head of the whole Soto sect in Japan, with its over 10,000 temples; Hakuin’s Song of Meditation, as commented on by Amakuki Sessan; these last were in fact a series of broadcasts over the Kyoto Radio in 1936. When Zen Buddhism crossed from China to Japan in the twelfth century, it entered a phase of development that was not only to inspire a magnificent range of artistic achievement but also to exert a tremendous influence upon Japanese life itself and, eventually, to bring to the attention of the West a religious philosophy both unique and challenging in its power. ‘Yet’, as one of the contributors to this book (first published in 1960) expresses it, ‘if asked what Zen is, to reply is very difficult.’ It is the purpose of this anthology to suggest an approach to such a reply. The texts here translated will give a general idea of Zen theory and practice, and are outstanding selections from the treasury of Zen literature. To these, the anthologist has added a valuable ‘Note on the Ways’, in which he …

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A Second Zen Reader

The Tiger’s Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings Zen is a Japanese approximation to the Sanskrit dhyana, which has in Yoga the technical meaning of stilling and focussing the mind. When after long practice all associations have dropped away and the mind is identified with the subtle constituents of the object, the state is called Samadhi of a particular kind. In that Samadhi there finally comes a flash of intuitive knowledge or Prajna, which reveals the truth of the object of meditation. Prajna is knowledge not coming by the routes of sense-perception, inference or authority: it is immediate and invariably correct. Buddhism adopted Yoga methods, and dhyana discipline was the final step before realization. The Zen sect, founded in China by the Indian patriarch Bodhidharma, lays special emphasis on meditation practice, and claims a special tradition handed down ‘from heart to heart’ from the Buddha himself. The main tenets of Buddhism and of Zen be found in Abbot Obora’s Heart Sutra commentary in book, and they need not be summarized here. In Zen as in other mystical schools there are spiritual crises, and the teacher has a very important role in resolving them. The teacher does not normally take …

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Encounters in Yoga and Zen

The book of 108 pages contains fifty incidents showing applications of Yoga and Zen in life. Half are from the Indian tradition and half from the Japanese. There are tales from long ago, preserved orally or in temple magazines and so on; others are modern, some of them observed or participated in by the author. It is not, I think, necessary to have a knowledge of or even interest in, either yoga or Zen to find pleasure and learning in this book. Unlike much that has been written on these subjects, the text is unpretentious, easy to read, and for the most part hugely enjoyable….The aim of such stories is to help a serious student to find realization and inspiration in everyday life. As the book jacket puts it: ‘Just as flint and steel are used to make fire, so these stories can be used to create sparks within the reader’s mind, which can, with care and attention, be nurtured into the strong light of realization.’ Care and attention are qualities which Leggett brings to his work. Each short episode is exquisitely unfurled. At first reading, some appear inconsequential: others score direct hits. All, however, are deceptive. Leggett himself says …

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Fingers and Moons

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 hazy. If you don’t use the right method but just look, you may see a clear moon, but it will probably be a reflection in a puddle. So you need the method for a good time, but then the focus must … jump! Taking up this unnoticed point, the author explains how to make the jump in focus, from clarity of holy texts to clarity of truth-realization. Stories, parables, and examples have been a favour­ed way of conveying spiritual insights and …

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Lotus Lake Dragon Pool

The book consists of some fifty short pieces, some of them in this author’s familiar anecdotal style. The first half, the Lotus Lake, are from the mystical Indian tradition, which seeks to penetrate the depths of the mind and then beyond; the second half, Dragon Pool, are from the Zen and associated traditions of Japan, which likens itself to a ball floating on the surface of a river, freely turning to meet all changes and never attached to any. There is a Chinese poem which brings together the two: In the uttermost depths of the heart, There is a pivot on which the whole world turns. The commentator says that ‘the uttermost depths of the heart’ represent the Indian tradition of silent meditation; ‘the pivot on which the world turns’ represents its application to life in the traditions of the Ways in the Far East. Lotus Lake sections The Magistrate , Do Good , Self-examination , Last words , Anger , Habits , Honor , Prayers Answered , Proclaimed Wisdom , The Judge , Tail, No tail , Powers , Obedience , Holy Ceremony , Handshake , Prescriptions , Test not , Giving up Illusion , Fire Stages , In …

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Realization of the Supreme Self

“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.” 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, and a future in Heaven. The basis …

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Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans

When the Chinese master Daikaku first came to Japan in 1246, neither he nor his Japanese samurai pupils could speak the other’s language, and there are many instances in old accounts of the difficulties he had in communicating. For instance, in an old record in Kenchoji there is a passage describing an interview between him and Toyama, Lord of Tango, and in it comes the phrase Maku-maa-sun, maku- maa-sun, nyu-su-ku-ri-i-fu-ya. This was Daikaku’s Sung dynasty Chinese taken down phonetically by a scribe who did not understand it. The priest Ki Zentoku, a man of Szechuan who had come with Shoichi to Kamakura, transliterated this into the proper Chinese characters, which a Japanese scholar could then read as Maku-mo-zo, maku-mo-zo, ji-ze-gan-rai- butsu-ya, and Endo Moritsugu, who could read Chinese, translated it into Japanese: ‘No delusive thoughts, no delusive thoughts! Surely you are yourself from the very beginning Buddha!’ Many such cases are reported where what was said by a Chinese Zen master was transcribed into Chinese characters and then translated into Japanese by a Japanese scholar of Chinese. (We can see that often the phrase is repeated by the Chinese, a characteristic found even today.) In these cases the translation was …

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Sankara on the Yoga Sutras

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 exhaustively on the Sutras and the early Vyasa commentary, both of which …

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Shogi: Japanese Chess

The book was first published in 1966, it played a pioneering role in helping to spread awareness of this unique member of the chess family outside its country of origin. It was the first book on shogi by a nonJapanese author. There have been many changes in the world of shogi over the past four decades, including the appearance of several other shogi-related books in English, yet Leggett’s book has several unique features which make the appearance of this new edition a welcome event and which will give it a continuing part to play in the worldwide popularization of shogi. The most striking feature of shogi, and what distinguishes it from all other regional variants of chess, is that pieces captured from the opponent are retained and may be ‘dropped’ back onto the board as one’s own. This single feature affects the nature of the game in a number of ways in comparison with Western chess: play tends to be more dynamic, with material advantage being less important than the momentum of an effective attack; very few games end in draws (less than 1 % for games between professionals); and players of significantly different strength can play each other on …

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The Chapter of the Self

This book presents an ancient Sanskrit text dealing with self-realization, God-realization and yoga, aiming at a radical and permanent change of the individual consciousness, which as it stands is limited by a sort of illusion. It is the kind of illusion experienced by a man dreaming of a terrifying lion whose roars are in fact his own snoring, or by people who faint at ‘Dracula’, or grip their seats in panic at a Cinerama. The texts of realization may not dispel illusion if the mind that receives them is clouded and only partially attentive; the methods of making it clear and effortlessly one-pointed are called, collectively, yoga. Realization is its own goal, but yoga is a means. As a means, yoga can be used fractionally to acquire some imagined advantages in life as it now is, But these are temporary, and do not confront the ultimate problem. They correspond to improving the circumstances of a dream. Isolated yogic methods can be used to give some calmness, or improve health, or produce vigour. One who is prepared to practise hard can make the mind and memory brilliant. But if these seeming advantages are in the service of a fundamental illusion, there …

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The Dragon Mask

Since its inclusion on the Olympic programme in 1964, judo has become so much part of the international sports programme that it is only too easy to forget that it had its origins in a very different tradition – the honoured Japanese tradition of Do or The Way. When Jigoro Kano reformulated his system from its ju-jitsu forbears, he took great care in deciding upon a name. His choice of Judo – The Gentle (or Yielding) Way – signified, for Kano and his contemporaries, the nature of the activity itself. The Ways have a long history in Japan, though they were particularly developed during the Edo period – from the 16th century The concept was simple yet profound: through the rigorous and lively practice of an art, a mature character could emerge. The actual form or art was not so important – the very variety in Japanese culture reflects the range of human interest and human nature. Among them are bushido (the way of the warrior), chado (the way of tea), kyudo (the way of the bow), shodo (the way of the brush) and kendo (the way of the sword). Judo is part of this tradition. However, Trevor Leggett mentions …

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The Old Zen Master

The Old Zen Master – Inspirations for Awakening Stories, parables, and examples have been a favour­ed way of conveying spiritual insights and truths since time immemorial, and Trevor Leggett was a master at it. He had the knack of pointing out the spiritual implications of practical events which people can relate to. The Old Zen Master contains stories based on Buddhism with references to martial arts, music, chess and incidents in ordinary life. He describes this as a freewheeling book: `I am trying to give a few hints which have helped me and which can be of help to others,’ he said. For those who know nothing of Buddhism or Zen in particular, this is an ideal introduction. It is nevertheless relevant to long-term practitioners as well. As the author points out, occasionally a new slant, a new angle or a new illustration — especially if it is an unexpected one — can be a help in absorbing practice, study and devotion. 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 …

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The Spirit of Budo

 Old Traditions for Present-day Life In 1947 I went round the secondhand bookshops in the Kanda district of Tokyo, which had miraculously survived the bombs, and bought many books on Budo and Zen. These books were now almost given away, and the whole group of ideals had been discredited. I began to translate some of these materials-no easy task. Already in 1946 I had published some short essays in small magazines. At first, editors asked for articles about the decorative arts or about ‘how Japan has changed’. But quite soon they were attracted to the theme of Budo. One of my earlier writings, ‘The Maxims of Saigo ‘, became rather well known. In 1956 my First Zen Reader, a collection of translations, was brought out by Charles Tuttle in Tokyo and had a big success. It was followed by a number of other writings-translations and some essays of my own. This book consists of 18 articles which have appeared in the monthly Budo magazine and are reproduced here by the kind permission of the editor and my friend Mr. Kisaburo Watanabe. My thanks go to Mr. Katsuo Tamura, President of the Simul Press, for his co-operation. It may seem daring …

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Three Ages of Zen

Contents Part I Warrior Zen. Introduction Selected Koan riddles from translation of Shonan-katto-roku (Record of Koans given at Kamakura) Part II Feudal Zen Introduction Translation of Master Torei’s ‘The Good Steed’ Part III Introduction Translation of the autobiography of the late Master Tsuji Somei’s ‘Treading the Way of Zen’ The translations in this text illustrate three phases of Zen in Japan: Warrior Zen of crisis, when Japan faced and repulsed Kublai Khan’s naval attacks in the thirteenth century; feudal Zen for officials in the 250 largely peaceful years up to the Western naval attacks in the mid-eighteenth century; and twentieth-century Zen, before, through, and after World War II. The three parts are concerned mainly with laymen’s Zen. Mahayana Buddhism has always had a close connection with the world. It is indeed possible that it began with groups of laymen in India. In the first text, the warriors remained in fact laymen, taught mostly by monks. It is to be noted that some of them were women. There was no prejudice in Zen, as there sometimes was in other branches of Buddhism. But there were no concessions either. The second part is an essay written for a samurai official by abbot …

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Zen and the Ways

Expression of Zen inspiration in everyday activities such as writing or serving tea, and in knightly arts such as fencing, came to be highly regarded in Japanese tradition. In the end, some of them were practiced as spiritual training in themselves; they were then called “Ways.” This book includes translations of some rare texts on Zen and the Ways. One is a sixteenth- century Zen text compiled from Kamakura temple records of the previous three centuries, giving accounts of the very first Zen interviews in Japan. It gives the actual koan “test questions” which disciples had to answer. In the koan called “Sermon,” for instance, among the tests are: How would you give a sermon to a one-month-old child? To someone screaming with pain in hell? To a foreign pirate who cannot speak your language? To Maitreya in the Tushita heaven? Extracts are translated from the “secret scrolls” of fencing, archery, judo, and so on. These scrolls were given in feudal days to pupils when they graduated from the academy, and some of them contain profound psychological and spiritual hints, but in deliberately cryptic form. They cannot be understood without long experience as a student of a Way, and the …

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