Jottings from Zen Master Bukko

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The talk was based on these these notes:

Bukko (Buddha-Light) was an honorific title bestowed posthumously by the Japanese Emperor on a Chinese monk, Tsu Yuen, who was one of the thirteenth-century Buddhist teachers who brought Zen to Japan. From childhood he had a fondness for temples and Buddhism. One day he heard a monk recite two lines from a famous Taoist classic:

The shadow of the bamboo sweeps the steps

but the dust does not stir;

The moon’s disc bores into the lake

but the water shows no scar.


This inspired him to search, and finally find a teacher, who set him the ko-an riddle: ‘No Buddha-nature in a dog.’ It took him six years to pass this. He could now sit in meditation for long periods without tiring. Sometimes he passed into trance where breath stops: he says that the inner state was that of a bird escaping from a cage. After this, when he closed his eyes he saw nothing but vast space, and when he opened them he saw everything in this vastness. The teacher still did not confirm this as final but gave him another ko-an. He passed this second one under the teacher’s successor, who gave him a full confirmation.

Later, when the Mongols were sweeping over China, they entered the temple where he was staying. The others ran, but Bukko calmly remained sitting as a Mongol soldier came up with drawn sword. He recited a poem:


In heaven and earth, no crack to hide in;

Joy to know the man is void and things too are void!

Splendid the great Mongolian Long-sword:

               The lightening flash cuts the spring breeze.

The Mongols were impressed with his courage, and left him alone.

Bukko went to Japan in 1280 and lived there for the remaining six years of his life, during which time he inspired the Regent, Tokimune, in repelling the Mongol invasions.

Here is a brief note of some of his main teachings, given in the Record of Bukko, the brief sermons preached by him in Japan in Chinese, translated into Japanese and then circulated among his mainly warrior disciples at Enkakuji temple in Kamakura. They were recorded in ‘Sayings of Bukko’ (Bukko Go-rook), which as far as I know has never been translated. (Its thir­teenth century Chinese contains many dialect words.) There are some accounts of his Zen interviews with warrior pupils in Record of Kamakura Ko-ans (Shonan-katto-rook), which is very little known even in Japan, but has been translated into English as The Warrior Koans. I will, in a moment give a sketch of some of his important teachings taken from various places in Bukko Go-rook.

He was one of the pioneers who transplanted Zen from China to Japan, and is of special interest today when Zen it being transplanted from Japan to the West. Transplantation generally involves some transformation too, and he is of importance for us today. Some Japanese scholars have proposed that in India, Buddhism was logical and the conclusions were drawn logically. Even some of the extreme Madhyamikas, like Candrakirti, were using logic to smash logic. The Indian mind is intellectual. India was the only country, even for the first 1,500 years of its history, to devise and analyze their own language. It was done in the masterly grammar of Panini, about 500 BC, which has never been surpassed, and which was in fact the inspiration for the European science of etymology. It never occurred to the Chinese, a high­ly intelligent people, to make a grammar of their own language. It never occurred to the Greeks: the first Greek grammar was written when they began teaching Greek to foreigners at Alexandria about 100 AD.

So the Indian tradition is intellectual, and for a doctrine to catch on in India it had to have a strong intellectual background.

Not so in China. When the Indian traditions went to China few books of logic were translated into Chinese. The Chinese do not believe in logic: for logic to operate, things have to have hard edges, and in life things do not have hard edges. The Chinese phrase is: ‘You have to show us something, not just talk.’ The phrase is not necessarily materialism: it can apply to spiri­tual fields. The Chinese wanted actual experience. So Zen began to change when it went to China. But there is a certain danger when the desire for experience outruns the doctrine: it may run away. Light without peace can become dangerous.

Zen was being introduced to Japan during the whole thirteenth century, Bukko was one of the great Chinese priests who brought it to Kamakura, the de facto capital of Japan. The country faced the imminent threat of the Mongols, who had conquered a good deal of the known world, including much of China. Towards the end of the century, Kublai Khan launched two invasions, which were repulsed under the leadership of Tokimune the Regent, one of Bukko’s best pupils. He is regarded as a sort of Bodhisattva whose genius saved Japan, aided by favourable winds like those which saved Britain from the Armada. In those times of national crisis, the role of the warrior was paramount, and Zen inspired the warriors. They in turn affected Zen, which in Japan took on a strong tradition of warrior virtues. Some of Bukko’s Zen interviews are given in the Warrior Ko-ans collection.

As mentioned, there is also a collection of Bukko’s little sermons and addresses to Kamakura audiences. In his six years in Japan he never learned much Japanese, so these were given in Chinese, translated into Japanese by a priest whose name is pronounced by Japanese Gi-O, and who came from the same district in China, so could therefore understand Bukko’s dialect. The exposition is not on Indian lines of logical exposition, but followed the Zen method as it had developed in China. To put it bluntly: both Indians and Chinese like to quote, but Indians generally understand what they quote, at least intellectually. The Chinese tended to quote without necessarily under­standing. Perhaps it was to get round this that the Chinese developed a sys­tem of giving riddling phrases, to which it is impossible to find a solution in the scriptures. If a teacher says: ‘Two hands brought together make a clap: what is the sound of one hand?’ It is difficult to find a quotation to answer this, but the master insists on an answer. If the search is continued, it leads to an experience, and everyone who does it comes to the same experience. In a sense, it is a departure from the logical basis of Buddhism, as some schol­ars and also priests have pointed out.

There was another transmission of Zen, to Kyoto the formal capital, remote from the soldiers of Kamakura. In Kyoto the Zen developed on more logical lines, based on scriptural texts, but in Kamakura, where Bukko and others taught so successfully, it came to be based more and more on pure experience. The Shonan-katto-rook  text gives a hundred of the Kamakura interviews, and it is clear that the masters were inventing new riddles, based on actual life situations. There were riddles about the moon’s reflection in a bucket of water, about a loincloth, about an earthquake, and so on. Some of the answers had to be lived through in the presence of the teacher. Because of the limitations of Bukko’s Japanese, his presentation of the riddle had to be short, and the answer, too had to be short.

Even after he and the other Chinese priests had died and left Japanese successors, the tradition remained that both riddles and answers should con­tinue to be short. In a way this is typical of Japanese adoption of something foreign; the pupils are not sure which parts of the tradition are essential, and which are not. So they are afraid to change anything, lest something essen­tial be lost. The teachers at the big temples often held the office for only a few years. Soon after Bukko died, the tradition had been established at the great temples that the answer to the warrior ko-an should be just a single word, and sometimes this word was just a great shout of fearlessness and defiance of anything the world could do. When the news came that the first Mongol invasion fleet had been sighted, Tokimune sought an interview with Bukko, which ended in a great shout. It was said to have frightened the deer in a cave, which is in fact a good hundred yards from the interview room.

The shout had to be given from a state in which the shouter is ready to jump over a cliff. The interview gave the warriors freedom from the fear of death.

However, after the Mongol invasions had been repelled, and the Japanese equivalent of the Wars of the Roses had finally subsided, fearlessness was not the only thing required of the ruling class. After 300 years, Kamakura Zen had narrowed to a single track, and the succession died out. No new Bukko arose to revive it, and a new succession of teachers was established from among the followers of Hakuin, whose Zen embraced all areas of life.

Still, the warrior tradition continued to have great influence on Japanese culture in general, not only Zen. Take the case of scholarship. An old Buddhist priest told me that he studied the Chinese text Sen-ji-mon from the same copy that had been used to teach his father and grandfather. Sen-ji-mon means Thousand Character Classic, and it consists of sets of four characters, each of which occurs once only. Some of the characters are rather difficult, and are never encountered today outside this classic. I had gone through it (with some resistance) in learning calligraphy, so I understood what the Buddhist priest was talking about. He said that on the pages of this book, which had served three generations, there were not only tear marks on some of the pages, but even marks of blood. He said it had given him a shock when the book was first opened before him, but added: “I must say, it did make me work hard at it.” These methods do get results, though some Buddhists would not regard them as particularly skilful. There may be other ways of getting there.

I will give an example from my own field, Judo. I began when I was 17: like most beginners I got a few knocks and sprains. When I had been there a few months, and made some progress as I was very keen, I saw a chap get a knock on the inner side of the shin. It certainly can be painful, and he went: “Ow! Ouch!” and sat down on the mat clasping his shin. The old Japanese teacher walked across and said quietly: “Shall I send for your mother?” the injured man flushed, and hobbled off. That made me resolve: ‘He is never going to say that to me!’ After that I suppressed any reaction even when I thought I had been really injured. So that was another way of teaching, which did produce a lasting effect.

A third incident was this; one evening I felt tired with a bit of a headache, and I thought I would cut my usual three hours practice short that evening. I was one of the few whom the teacher was training very strictly and when he saw me pick up my towel to go, he said: “Where are you going?” I said: “I’ve got a bit of a headache and I also feel tired. I’ll come to the training tomorrow.” He looked at me and said: “Suppose a man comes up to you in the street with a hammer, wanting to kill you. Can you say to him I’ve got a bit of a headache today and I also feel tired. Come back tomorrow?” I turned back and practised hard till he sent me home. I may say that the remark about the hammer has been a great help to me when I have felt like evading or postponing something difficult.

These examples of teaching are perhaps a bit more skilful than the blood and tears on the pages of Sen-ji-mon.

On the other hand, they are comparatively small things, not comparable to the life-and-death situation of the Kamakura samurai. A life-and-death case which I came to know about concerned a Japanese woman who prac­tised Zen at the beginning of this century. Her daughter told me about it. The mother was diagnosed as having a serious illness, and the medical science of the time gave her only a few months to live. When she was told, she went to see her Zen teacher in Yokohama. When he heard about it, he just remarked: “Well, you may be missed for up to three years after your death, but after that no one will remember you at all.” She was taken aback, and pleaded: “I’m going to die. Can’t you help me?” He jumped up, took her by the shoulders and pushed her out the door. “If you’re going to die, die quick!” he said, and slammed the sliding doors together behind her.

So she went into one of the little caves in the small cliff at Yokohama, and stayed there to meditate and die quick. On the third night, however, she had a vision of Bodhisattvas filling the sky, and felt something turn over inside her. She came out and resumed her life, becoming a well-known local figure in Zen, and living into her eighties. This does seem very harsh, and probably the teacher would not have said this to someone of less strength of character. I can also say that in times of real crisis I have found this phrase a big help: If you’re going to die, die quick!’

Such things are part of living instruction. It is not a question of always shouting. Some of us need shouts, perhaps at particular times, and there are others who do not need them, or need them only rarely.

Bukko’s public instructions are mostly tiny sermons, given from the High Seat at Enkakuji temple. They are hard to follow in isolation, so I propose first to give a sort of outline of the teachings as a rough framework. Then I will give a very free rendering of a few of them as they stand, and supple­ment each with others taken from elsewhere in the Bukko Go-roku, and occasionally a few extra comments.


The way out of life-and-death is not some special technique; the essential thing is to penetrate to the root of life-and-death. It is in the centre of every man, and everything else is dependent on it. Zen is to pierce through to it.

Zen sitting is not some sort of operation to be performed. It is going into one’s true original nature before father or mother were bom. The self seeks to grasp the self, but it is already the self, so why should it go to grasp the self? Look into it; where was it then, where is it now, when life ends where does it go? When you feel you cannot look any more, look and see how that inability to look appears and disappears. As you look how the looking arises and goes, satori-realization will arise of itself.

At the beginning you have to take up a ko-an riddle: one such is this ‘true face before father and mother were born.’ For one facing the turbulence of life-and death, such a ko-an clears away the sandy soil and opens up the golden treasure which was there from the beginning, the ageless root of all things.

In concentration on a ko-an, there is a time of rousing the spirit of inquiry, a time of breaking clinging attachments, a time of furious dashing forward, and there is a time of damping the fuel and stopping the boiling. In general, meditation has to be done with urgency, but if after three or five years the urgency is still maintained by force, the tension becomes a wrong one and it is a serious condition. Many lose heart and give up. In such a case, the ko-an is to be thrown down. Then there is a cooling. The point is that many people come to success if they first have the experience of wrestling with a ko-an and later reduce the effort, but few come to success when they are putting out exceptional effort. After a good time, the rush of thoughts outward and inward, subsides naturally, and the true face shows itself as the solution to the ko-an, and mind, free from all motivations, always appears as void and absolute sameness, shining like the brightness of heaven, at the centre of the vast expanse of phenomenal things, and needing no polishing or cleaning. This is beyond all concepts, beyond being and non­being.

Leaving your innumerable knowing and seeings and understandings, and go to that greatness of space. When you come to that vastness, there is no speck of Buddhism in your heart, and then you will have the true sight of the Buddhas and patriarchs. The true nature is like the immensity of space, which contains all things. When you can conform to high and low, square and round, to all regions equally, that is it. The emptiness of the sea lets waves rise, the emptiness of the mountain valley makes the voice echo, the emptiness of the heart makes the Buddha. When you empty the heart, things appear as in a mirror, shining there without differences in them: life and death an illusion, and all the Buddhas one’s own body.



  1. If you live on the heights, on top of the mountain, you are in constant anxiety. Because you have to hold on to everything, in case it falls and is lost to you. Your name, your reputation, your status, your money, your leaming- you have got to look after them. You have got to hold on to them all. Otherwise, a moment’s carelessness, and one of them will slip down and go on falling right to the bottom of the mountain. And you yourself may fall down too.

It is better to be at the bottom of the mountain already. And if you can remain pure, you will be like a hollow at the mountain foot, which will keep the pure rain and become a little lake. In that lake fish can live in purity and humility at the bottom of the mountain; keep pure and nourish the fish.

  1. A teacher of one of the philosophical schools of Buddhism, a very learned man, said to him: ‘I know the holy texts. How is it that I do not have this freedom of realisation?’ Bukko replied: ‘The seeds have been planted, the seeds are there. But the ground is in such a state that they do not strike, they do not germinate. You must dig up all your prejudices and clear the ground of your fixed ideas, and then the seeds will germinate.’
  2. In another little sermon he says: ‘All of you are sideways on, standing there in the gateway of the temple. You cannot make up your mind to come in and really practise for realization. On the other hand, neither can you tear yourselves away and go into the world. You stand there sideways on, half facing in, and half facing away.

Then he added: ‘And You have to practice in the right way. There are fish in the sea, but you don’t get them by jumping into a boat and going after them with a sword!’

  1. The great universe has no outside: the great perfection has no inside. The sea, the moon, the mountain, the cloud, face and de-limit each other. Last night the wind changed from east to north, but the great Void has no direc­tions.

(Note: He often uses this expression- ‘the wind changed.’ We are not to curse and complain, the wind changed. People may be fawning on you, and then come to hate you. Someone is a bitter enemy, and then abruptly he becomes rather friendly, and you find yourselves working together. A repu­tation is high, and within half an hour it is lost. A man who has been ignored and despised, a woman who has been slighted, are recognized as great fig­ures. The wind changes. We tend simply to hang on to this and that, but you cannot hang on- the wind changes. So, accept the changes of the wind. In the great Void, there are no directions, no north or south, no east or west, no high or low.)

  1. You are like starving men, who then do get some food. They put it in their mouth, but spit it out at once. You are spiritually starving! You hear the great teachings, take them, and then you too spit them out. You don’t chew them, you don’t digest them, and so they do you no good. Here you are lis­tening to me, but in the next half-hour you will go away, and you will be talking all sorts of nonsense. That means you are spitting out what you had taken in and it has done you no good at all. So many teachers, so many teachings, but immediately afterwards you leave them and so they do you no harm good and give you no life.
  2. How can I tell you? The ancients themselves said they did not know, but now you come and ask me to explain. You want me to cut up the waters with a sword.

One knot and everything is knotted: one loosening and everything is loosened.

Everything is freed; freed from the illness of being Buddha, freed from the illness of being a patriarch, freed from the illness of being a living being in samsara. All are already free!

(After this sermon, he was asked: ‘In that case, what are you doing giv­ing these sermons? If all are already free, there is nothing to be done.’ He replied:

‘With a deaf man, you show the gate by pointing; with a blind man you show the gate by knocking on it.’)

  1. People say: ‘We have been in ignorance for so long, with so many asso­ciations, how can it all be cleared away quickly, in a single lifetime as the Zen people claim?’

He said: ‘The throat may have been very dry, absolutely parched, for a long time, but one good drink of water, and everything is all right.

  1. The Absolute beats the drum.

(The Absolute is a translation of two Chinese characters, read by Japanese as Shin-nyo. It means ‘what it is really like.’)

The Shin-nyo beats the drum, and in India the baby Buddha is formed, and in us the intelligence quickens and becomes bright, and the clouds clear away from the mountain peak. Listen for the throb of infinity: the Absolute beats the drum. Listen for that!

  1. On the anniversary of Buddha’s nirvana, Bukko stood up in front, pulled in his hands, and rubbed his chest. Then he said: ‘The Absolute had a pain in the chest, but rubbed it and everything was all right again.’
  2. He banged his staff on the pillar of the meditation hall and said: ‘Invest your spiritual energy here, as a merchant invests his money in a new ware­house.’
  3. Bukko quoted an incident concerning an old Chinese master: A monk said: ‘I cannot manage to realize my true nature; have you got some means for someone like me?’

The master said:“I have got no ear-muffs on my ears.”

The monk said: “I can see that for myself.”

The teacher said: “I have created a mistake.”

The monk said: “What mistake?” The teacher said: “I made you see for yourself something that is not there!”

Bukko set this as a riddle to be solved by his audience.

  1. (The heavenly dragon represents transcendence; he carries a crystal ball of wisdom.)

Bukko said: ‘It is like the dragon playing with the wisdom-ball. He does not always stay above, in absolute transcendence, but plays with it, sometimes letting it drop. But he never lets it fall on the earth as absolutely real. He plays with it between the two, sometimes tossing it high, and sometimes let­ting it fall low.’

  1. The master whirled his staff around, and then he said: ‘If I wave it around, you think: “Ah, but the true nature of the staff is to be still.” Then if I do keep it still, you keep wondering when I am going to do something with it.

Then he put out his tongue. He said: ‘If I say something, you say, “Ah, but the truth is really silent.” And then if I keep my mouth shut, you begin to invent teachings for yourselves!’

  1. The great changes take place in the universe, and they are right and per­fect as they are. It is our passions, our clinging, that lead to all the suffering and produce all the obstacles.


Authors notes:

Bukko points to these things in many different ways. Indians would never stand for the contradictions, but in the Chinese Zen tradition this is how it developed. They are like striking flint and steel to produce a flash of insight, as actual experience. And if one doesn’t, then another one is presented, until one does. And then you have to nurture the glowing tinder and bring it up. For instance, Bukko describes a picture of Bodhidharma sitting in medita­tion: ‘It is a dragon coiled up!’ Then on another occasion he will say: ‘Things are perfect as they are. Old Bodhidharma missed the point, coming all that way, first to Ceylon and then to China, and standing there banging away at the gate!’

When one comes across such passages, one thinks: ‘How was that again?’ We feel there is something there, and we think and think. Things are perfect as they are. So why change them? Why does Bukko give ser­mons if things are already perfect?

Buddhism can be looked at in terms of music, whereas the Vedanta of the

Upanishads could correspond to architecture, where reality is something immense and unchanging, with events including human events passing in and out, to and fro, like shadows. They pass away, but the great reality remains, unchanging. In Buddhism, on the other hand, Buddha-nature IS change. In this sense Buddhism can be compared to music, whose essence is change.

Take as an example the familiar opening chords in Rachmaninov’s popu­lar Second Piano Concerto.

The movement begins with seven crashing chords. (Most pianists have to fake them today, as Rachmaninov wrote for his own hands, which were exceptional in their stretch.) This is a famous dramatic passage; each chord is different, but there is a dramatic inevitability in the sequence. Listening to it, each one is perfect in itself, but though it is perfect, we do not feel: ‘Oh, let it stay. It is perfect: let it stay for ever. The next chord too is perfect, and the next one. As we listen, we find that the sequence of the chords too is per­fect. Bukko is saying: ‘Each chord is perfect, and the sequence is perfect, but you spoil it because when one is being played, you are thinking it should stay, or else you are thinking of the next one, or perhaps of the last one, or perhaps all these things together. So you don’t appreciate the things as they stand.’

The Warrior Ko-an collection of 101 Zen interviews (Shonan-katto-roku) contains ten connected with Bukko. A famous one was this:

A nun disciple was carrying a lacquer bucket of water for the flowers, and caught sight of the moon reflected in it. She had an intuitive flash, and made a poem:


Carrying the bucket,

I saw the moon reflected in it

When it was held steady.


Her realization was that, when the passions are stilled in the mind, the Truth is reflected in it, if only it is held steady. She presented this poem to Bukko, and he said: ‘Nun, take the Heart Sutra and Go!’ Well, I expect a lot of you will have read the Heart Sutra, of some 250 Chinese characters. Perhaps you have a solution, but she went away and did not find one in spite of her efforts. Then one day she was again bringing the lacquer bucket for the flowers, and the bottom fell out of it. She then had a flash of much deep­er realization, and presented another poem to the teacher:


The bottom fell out of the bucket!

Now there is no water,

And no moon reflected in it.

The teacher accepted this. She later became a great teacher herself of the nunnery at Tokei, a beautiful temple, which still exists.

The Shonan-katto-roku text has one or two cases where Bukko and his great predecessor Daikaku, are paired in an interesting way. For instance, we have just heard about the importance of the Heart Sutra of 250 characters. A follower of the Lotus Sect came to Daikaku and said: ‘Your Heart Sutra text is too long. Our Lotus invocation- Reverence To The Lotus- is only seven syllables, and much more suited to the people of today. Daikaku laughed and said: ‘Oh, seven syllables is much too long. If you want to recite a Zen sutra, do it in one word. Now, what is that word?’ Afterwards he set this as a riddle for his disciples. All kinds of attempts were made, it is recorded: ‘Buddha’, ‘heart’, ‘sincerity’ and others, but Daikaku never approved any. He died without giving the answer. So some of his disciples approached Bukko, his spiritual successor at Kamakura, in the hope of getting an answer. But Bukko said: ‘Our school is a transmission from heart to heart, and does not need to set up words. If you grasp it, your whole life will be a sutra, and your death will be a sutra. You need no other sutra.’

So here the One-word sutra of Daikaku at Kenchoji is contrasted with the No-word sutra of Bukko at Enkakuji.

A substantial history of Kenchoji has recently been published in Japan, and the author sent me a copy. The Kenchoji records, though much has been lost in a great fire, contain a number of such references to Bukko.

He had women disciples, and it is one of the features of Zen that there was no prejudice against women as there was in some sects. It was supposed that women intellectually, and in some other ways, were inferior; but this was because they were not educated. In earliest times in India, however, women were respected in religious circles: in one of the oldest Upanishads (about 500 BC) Maitreyi and Gargi play prominent parts, and there is no indication that this was unusual. In a still earlier Brahmana text, Gargi is called ‘the teacher.’ But later in India, and in China, women were not edu­cated: in China some girls, to get an education, disguised themselves as boys in order to go to school. But Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen in China, had a woman among his four disciples, and in the Shonan-katto-roku text there are a number centred on women of the warrior class.

The warrior disciples at Kamakura did not of course become monks, but they became what was called Nyu-do (one who has entered the Way): they shaved their heads and took certain vows. Their Zen was layman’s Zen of the Rinzai Line, which today stresses practice with a series of classical ko- an riddles. These were based on incidents in early Zen, from the Buddha onwards through the Indian and Chinese patriarchs. In Kamakura warrior Zen, the riddles were incidents that happened in everyday life here-and-now: it was called shi-kin Zen, or ‘on-the-spot’ Zen. They are concerned with things like a bucket of water, a loincloth, a tea-cup, a misreading of a Chinese character, prayers for rain, various popular beliefs and even superstitions and so on.

Some teachers today believe that the present era is suited to this kind of ‘on-the-spot’ Zen. The form of the answers to the classical riddles leak out. A good teacher will never pass a mere outward imitation, but it can happen ( and did happen in Japan) that a particular riddle has an answer in a particu­lar form, and if that form of answer is given, it will be passed. When this happens, Zen decays, as the Rinzai line did in Japan, until Hakuin revived it. The shi-kin ‘on-the-spot’ Zen riddles are living on the first occasion, but since they concern everyday events, they need not harden into lifeless forms.

Traditionally in China the Zen monasteries and training centres were on the top of mountains, remote from city life. Bukko himself when he was 13 climbed up to the monastery on a mountain. In these isolated places they became expert in formal meditation sitting. He was given his first ko-an at 17. It took him nearly 12 years to pass. But in these times, some teachers say, the busy modem layman cannot keep at it that long, so he is passed through more easily, but it takes many different riddles to keep him from giving up. The chief monasteries in Japan, though often near or in cities, are still called mountain temples. He is not expected to enter the trance states described of Bukko, where the breathing practically stops. The phenomenon has been studied in India by medical teams; the pulse becomes almost imperceptible. The trance pursued as an end in itself, however, is no guaran­tee of spiritual growth; some performers are frankly doing it for money. Bukko does not treat it as anything but an occasional by-product of pro­longed Zen sitting. Bukko took one more ko-an, and completed his realiza­tion after passing through just two. It took 20 years of intense practice in his case.

©Trevor Leggett


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