Samurai Poetry in Adhyatma Teachings

When the Samurai class was established as the ruling caste in Japan at the beginning of the 18th century the warriors were required to educate themselves in practical administration. This included literary skills, culture in general and some familiarity with law. The Samurai had been, even in the early days of the 13th century, relatively literate, compared to the often unlettered Knights and even Kings of the West. It was traditional for some of them to take part in poetry competitions, though of a rather special kind. In an ordinary poetry contest there are two or three winners so to …

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The Third Don’t Know in Adhyatma Teachings

Uesugi Kenshin was the Galahad of mediaeval Japanese chivalry, and like the Galahad of the Western Arthurian legend was somewhat tactless and even arrogant in his youth. Kenshin was keenly interested in Buddhism and came to hear of the discourses on Zen given at a certain temple by a great Zen abbot, also as it happened with the same Buddhist name Kenshin. The young Uesugi decided to go to one of the sermons and engage the abbot in debate afterward, so he rode up one day without announcing his coming and went in to hear the sermon. That day the …

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One Dharma A Thousand Words in Adhyatma Teachings

Priest Horin, mediaeval Master of Kenchoji temple was asked by one of the Kenchoji gardeners who worked on the lands there, “Is there any virtue in the recitation, or listening to the recitation, of the sutras if you don’t understand the real meaning?” The priest said: “If someone takes a medicine, even though he may not know its virtues, still when he takes it there will be a good effect. And in the case of a poisonous drug, then though he may not know from the taste that it is harmful if he takes it that drug may kill him. …

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Sake Wine and Samadhi in Adhyatma Teachings

Gudo was the Master at the Myoshinji Zen temple in Kyoto. He was famous as the teacher of the 17th century many-talented Emperor Gomizu-no-o, who was also a devout Buddhist. Gudo occasionally had cause to visit Yedo, the capital, about 300 miles from Kyoto along the great Nakasendo highway. Gudo sometimes walked the whole way incognito as a humble travelling monk with nothing but his staff and his bundle of things. On a long journey the custom was for the monk to ask for lodging for the night in some village, and it was an act of Buddhist merit to …

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Mist and Rain in Adhyatma Teachings

  The great Zen teacher, who was one of the first to bring Zen from China to Japan, in the 13th century, was asked at the end of a public ceremony: ‘Now you have come from China to Japan, how does your teaching differ?’   Bukko replied: ‘It does not. It is all the same. It is the same teaching.’ And the questioner said: ‘But you do, in fact, teach differently here. For instance, you teach through an interpreter.’ The Master replied: ‘Well, I suppose we can say there is some difference between mist and rain.’ © 1998 Trevor Leggett …

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Final Penalty in Adhyatma Teachings

My father was a soldier in World War I. He joined up immediately the war broke out in 1914 (just as I was born) and came home after the Armistice in November 1918. He was one of the lucky few who passed through the whole war without a scratch. Like most of the soldiers in that terrible conflict, he never spoke of the actual fighting, but I remember one or two interesting comments about the Army. He said that they were all more or less bullied into fitness and compliance; fitness came almost automatically with the training, but compliance varied. …

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Regret in Adhyatma Teachings

This is a story of two students in a provincial town in Iran. There were two very promising students and the new government of the Shah was looking for new young talent to promote into government and sent a minister to provincial towns to recruit the brightest. These two had done exceptionally well and the minister was going to interview both of them, but he had only a day in the town and one of the students suddenly went down with an acute illness. So only one was interviewed and he was taken to the capital to begin his new …

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