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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry’

Like any school of thought, Zen can become pretty dogmatic.  What was once a nice way for some people to try to reach their inner being can be turned into an overly rigid set of structures that help prevent generations of followers from ever learning to be their true, spontaneous selves.  And of course, this has been happening throughout the world for millenia.

Dogmatism breeds more than just stagnation, though.  It also breeds people like Ikkyu, an infamous Zen poet from Japanese history.  His life and work bucked against tradition, expressing joy and mischief as beautifully as possible.  Everywhere he turned, he saw an abundantly lovely world, and he seems to have tried to express that to whomever he could.  It turns out there’s even a cartoon out there about him, as children of course love his irreverence and how it triumphs over the stodgy teachers and shogun.

I think he’d have been great fun to meet.  Barring him actually showing up in person, though, I think he gives us a pretty good insight into what it’s like to be around him through his surviving poetry.  This one pretty well sums up, I think, what it’s like in his world:

Every day, priests minutely examine the Dharma
And endlessly change complicated sutras.
before doing that, though, they should learn
how to read the love letters sent by the wind and the rain, the snow and the moon.

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