‘The ocean of true reality is boundless and profoundly deep. The Buddha Way is immeasurably vast. Some priests do nothing but seek fame and success until their dying day, never showing the slightest interest in the path of Zen or the Buddha’s Dharma. Others become enthralled in literary pursuits or become addicted to sake or women, oblivious of the hell fires flaming up under their very noses. Some, relying on insignificant bits of knowledge they pick up, shamelessly try to deny the law of cause and effect, though woefully lacking any grasp of its working. Some find ways to attract large numbers of people to their temples, believing to the end of their days that this is proof of a successful teaching career.’ (Beating The Cloth Drum)

I haven’t picked up this book in a while, but it happens that I was writing a Patreon post, and wanted to see if I had written anything about the traditional way of tangaryo when I was writing the Ino’s Blog. It was not too surprising that I had, and, as I often find, a little meander down memory lane from ten or more years ago made me smile. My practice is less traditional these days than it was when I was a temple officer at San Francisco Zen Center, and while I am sure that Hakuin would not stint in his criticism of what I am doing now, I would at least not claim to be seeking fame or success.

5 thoughts on “Hakuin

  1. Who exactly is pure and sincere in their quest for the whole truth?? Who knows the source and where truth is to be found?? Who desperately wants to know and will not lie to themselves or others?? I know that if I find the whole truth it will not be anything that I expected nor will my journey there be anything familiar. But I know for sure that I will know it when I see it because it is always there. The lies and the filth of this system of things cannot hide pure love from a truth seeker.

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  2. Having just finished reading Zen Pioneer: The Life & Works of Ruth Fuller Sasaki, I’m re-reading The Zen Koan by Isshu Miura and Ruth Fuller Sasaki, that I read many years ago. On the bottom of page 42 and the top of page 43, Isshu Miura quotes Hakuin:

    That is why a man of old said: “For the study of Zen there are three essential requirements.” What are those three essential requirements? The first is a great root of faith; the second is a great ball of doubt; the third is great tenacity of purpose. A man who lacks any one of these is like a three-legged kettle with one broken leg.

    I have always wondered, and doubted, whether the word “doubt” is the best choice of modern English word as a translation from the 17th or 18th century Japanese spoken by Hakuin. I have wondered whether a better choice might be “skepticism” or even better, “curiosity.” Can you find a source in Japanese from Hakuin’s time and read the Japanese to know whether the English word “doubt” is a good translation? Or whether other people have translated the word differently? Thanks.


    1. Thank you for sending me off on a little quest. I have always taken the notion of doubt expressed here as a continually questioning scrutiny, not being willing to take anything to be true without scupulous examination.
      I’m not an expert in kanji, but it seems that Hakuin’s word was 懐疑, kaigi, or taigi for the great doubt.


      Bottom line would be Dogen’s typical exhortation: investigate further!


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