Ink on paper, Eisei Bunko Foundation. Two and a half centuries after his death, the thing Hakuin c. Cartoon sitcoms aside, Hakuin Ekaku is undeniably one of the most important of all Zen masters.
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Ink on paper, Eisei Bunko Foundation. Two and a half centuries after his death, the thing Hakuin c. Cartoon sitcoms aside, Hakuin Ekaku is undeniably one of the most important of all Zen masters. He came into the Rinzai school of Zen and revitalized it during a period when its very survival was in question, focusing practice back on the basics of zazen and koan study. He was the quintessential Zen master of the people, who extended his teaching far beyond the monastery to include folks from all walks of life.
All modern Rinzai masters trace their lineage back through Hakuin. Hakuin was born around in a small village near the base of Mount Fuji. Four years after his entry into the monastic life, his teacher allowed him to set off on pilgrimage to study with Zen masters all over Japan. This pilgrimage ended up lasting fourteen years, ending only when he was called back to become priest at Shoin-ji, which had fallen into near-ruin during the years he was away. It became his place of practice and teaching for the rest of his life.
When darkness fell, he would climb inside a derelict old palanquin and seat himself on a cushion he placed on the floorboard. There he would remain motionless, like a painting of Bodhidharma, until the following day when the boy would come to untie him so that he could relieve his bowels and take some food. The same routine was repeated nightly. Manyoan Collection. That passage became the theme of the rest of his life. But from that moment on, his life was completely devoted to leading others to liberation-something for which he seems to have had a talent.
Students gathered around him in increasing numbers, and before long, monks, nuns, and laypeople from all over Japan began to make their way to this once-obscure temple to hear Hakuin expound on the dharma. The countryside around Shoin-ji sometimes came to resemble a big Zen camp meeting. Hakuin left over fifty written works, most of them based on recorded talks, several of which have been translated into English by the great modern Hakuin scholar Norman Waddell, and several of which Shambhala has been honored to publish.
The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin is a translation of the work whose Japanese title translates "Talks Given Introductory to Zen Lectures on the Records of Sokko, " which is considered one of his most important works, most representative of his teaching in general.
Ginshu Collection. Two Blind Men on a Bridge. Ink on paper, 28 x Manayan Collection. His paintings and calligraphies were a powerful vehicle for his dharma transmission, particularly to the world beyond the monastic community, because what he presents in them goes beyond words and intellectual concepts to speak directly to the heart.
Using traditional Buddhist images and sayings-but also themes from folklore and daily life-Hakuin created a new visual language for Zen: profound and whimsical at the same time, and unlike anything that came before. It includes some of the most famous works as well as lesser known gems. Some of them can make you laugh out loud. Unfortunately, it contains only excerpts-as his complete commentary on Blue Cliff runs to over pages! Ginshu collection. Boundless and free is the sky of Samadhi!
Bright the full moon of wisdom! Truly, is anything missing now? Nirvana is right here, before our eyes, This very place is the Lotus Land, This very body, the Buddha.
Hakuin Ekaku Quotes
Early years[ edit ] Hakuin was born in in the small village of Hara , [web 1] at the foot of Mount Fuji. His mother was a devout Nichiren Buddhist , and it is likely that her piety was a major influence on his decision to become a Buddhist monk. This deeply impressed the young Hakuin, and he developed a pressing fear of hell , seeking a way to escape it. He eventually came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to become a monk. While at Daisho-ji, he read the Lotus Sutra , considered by the Nichiren sect to be the king of all Buddhist sutras, and found it disappointing, saying "it consisted of nothing more than simple tales about cause and effect ". Hakuin despaired over this story, as it showed that even a great monk could not be saved from a bloody death in this life. How then could he, just a simple monk, hope to be saved from the tortures of hell in the next life?
Hakuin Ekaku: A Reader's Guide
Thinking what you heard to be strange, you have written to ask me to explain to you the principle I expounded and to tell you of any other pertinent matters. In this letter I shall deal largely with the import of what I said, and ask you to read and reread what I write, in the hope that it will prove to be to your satisfaction. I do indeed always say: Outside the mind there is no Lotus Sutra and outside the Lotus Sutra there is no mind. Outside the ten stages of existence there is no mind and outside the ten stages of existence there is no Lotus Sutra. This is the ultimate and absolute principle. It is not limited to me, but all the Tathagata of the three periods, and all learned sages everywhere, when they have reached the ultimate understanding, have all preached the same way. The essential purport of the text of the Lotus Sutra speaks gloriously to this effect.