The Japanese Romaji is beautifully clear

There are specimens of handwriting by writers of various nationalities, all of them writing a personal letter in which they have no need to be formal or precise. They are written by an Eng­lish publisher of academic books, a French edi­tor, a Polish scientist, an Indian philosopher, an English sportsman, an Iranian secretary, and two Japanese, one of them a former Sportsman of the Year, and the other a Culture Medalist. Which are the two Japanese? It is easy to find them — they are the two which are easy to read, with all the letters well formed. If an English schoolmaster were marking these, he would at once give almost full marks to the two Japanese writers, and the others would get anything from 30 per cent to 80. The next thing we notice is that the other handwritings are different from each other and from the Japanese. The two Japanese pieces are rather similar, though written by two people very unlike each other; both of them however have published books in English, which they know well. The Culture Medalist knows words that I have to look up in the dictionary. Their Kanji writing is quite different, but their …

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Buddha-nature, where is it?

Buddha-nature, where is it? It doesn’t seem to be anywhere. The teacher says, ‘But it’s here . . .’ It’s something which we know we haven’t got, and yet we have. One method of teaching this is through history. It’s no use citing examples from Chinese or Japanese history which take long expla­nations, so I’ll give one or two examples from our history. All of you can read silently. You can pick up a letter and you can read it. But in the Middle Ages and in classical times, they couldn’t do that. They had to verbalize; they had to speak it aloud before they could understand — that was the only way they could read. This was true of Japan too. A Russian captain in the eighteenth century, who was wrecked on the coast, was held in prison for a time till the authorities could investigate him. He complained to the guard that he was keeping him awake at night by reading aloud. He said, ‘Please read quietly.’ ‘But,’ the guard said, ‘this is the only way I can read. Unless I say the words, I can’t read.’ St. Augustine could read silently and he was regarded as a …

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