The Flower of the Heart

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Friends, these are a few rags I’ve collected. Once they belonged to beautiful garments and embroidered cloths, but they’ve been ripped away from their context and then they’ve gone through the grubby hands and perhaps the mind of a translator and then the grubby lips of a speaker, but some of them are so beautiful and so strong that perhaps something will remain.

The first thing, the first one is a poem, written by one of Japan’s great poetic geniuses, one in the galaxy of women poetesses in Japan. They are not in the star rank by courtesy, they showed themselves there [in Japan]. Her name was Komachi. She was very beautiful, and, according to the traditional “Noh” play about her, she used her beauty cruelly. She wrote this poem, which has been, of course – translators being a catty lot -been criticised in translation, but I think it’s good one:

Alas, it is the flower of the heart that fades
with no outer sign of change.

Outwardly I’m all right, but something fades in the flower of the heart. Chekov said in one of his plays: ‘We were so full of life, and enthusiastic. Now we have become so bored and boring’.

What’s happened to us? The flower of the heart is faded. The outside is all right. We feel something has gone wrong, but we don’t know what it is, so we try to build up external things. Perhaps if I get a new car, that inner radiance will return? No. Well, a colour television set in every room perhaps? No. Perhaps it’s physical, if I got healthy and strong? No. But then I begin to go in for things like learning.

Now, there is a mediaeval Japanese story about learning which is quite revealing. A man turns up at a mediaeval court, supposed to be about 13th century, and it is noteworthy that the local lords are, in the cheerful, democratic, traditional Japanese way, often presented as rather fools. Anyway, the local lord is there and the man turns up at his court and asks for a job of employment.

The local lord says, ‘What can you do?’

The man replies, ‘I know the unusual things that other people don’t know’.

‘Oh, oh, well, that might be useful, mightn’t it?’ so the lord takes him on.

Well, the man’s at the court and periodically there are court crises when the accounts are miles behind and they ask him to lend a hand.

He says, ‘No, no, the accountants can do the accounts, clerks can do the accounts. I do the things that no one else can do. I know the things no one else knows’.

In that way he gets out of pretty well everything! Then the time comes – the castle is near the coast – when the fishermen catch, as it’s described, a round slimy thing that doesn’t seem to have any mouth or eyes. It thrashes about in the net, so they bring it, still moving in the net, to the castle and the lord looks at it. No one has ever seen anything like this before, so he calls for the man. The lord thinks now, now’s the time, the man will be able to do something.

The fellow is brought along, and the lord says, ‘Now this is something nobody knows anything about. What is it?’

The man looks at it and says, ‘Well, yes, there are creatures like this’.

And the lord says, ‘Evidently there are, yes, but what is it?’

The man ponders and says, ‘This is what’s called Kowgaragutsa’.

The lord says, “What?’

‘Kowgaragutsa! This is a Kowgaragutsa’ and everybody is sort of relieved and say, ‘Yes, that’s a Kowgaragutsa!’

The lord says, ‘Yes, well, now write that down in the court diary, now we know.’

And the man’s reputation goes right up.

After some years – this thing is kept in the court museum – of course it shrivels up and becomes just a little spiny mass of bones.

Then a visitor comes from another part of the country, and the lord says to him, ‘We caught something very unusual two or three years ago. I don’t remember the name, but it’s very unusual’.

They bring it out, and the visitor has never seen anything like this, even the skeleton of this thing, and he says, ‘What is it?’

So they look for the court diary but they can’t find it, then they call on the expert on unusual things and the lord says, ‘Now, you told us what this was, what is it again?’

Well, the man can’t remember what he said, so he says, ‘This is a…, this is a Hihirihitsu!’

‘Oh, yes, that’s right’, and they write it down but then a bit later the court diary is found which has been misplaced and they compare the two entries.

The lord calls the expert in front of ministers and says, ‘You told us the other day this was a Hihirihitsu, but three years ago, when it was caught, you said it was Kowgaragutsa. How do you account for this?’

The man said, ‘It would certainly appear there was a contradiction, but the fact is, although there might seem that there was a contradiction, when it’s alive it’s called Kowgaragutsa and when it’s dead it’s called Hihirihitsu’. And the lord is now very very impressed.

This story, by, incidentally, a Zen master of the time, is an example of learning.

As he says, it consists in putting names to things you don’t understand, and we still do this today, not only in simple learning, but in science.

The fatal disease suddenly gets better and we say, ‘Now that, that’s what’s called ‘spontaneous remission’. We named it and now it’s known and is correspondingly supposed to be understood but this sort of pursuit in the end, doesn’t lead to knowledge.

The flower of the heart has faded; it becomes dry and it becomes empty and we’re not sure what to do and then we think, well, I’ll borrow some flowers, so I start collecting flowers and, if I’m interested in Buddhism, well, then I collect Buddhist flowers and I snap them off and I put them in vases round my room.

And for a time, momentarily, they do seem to brighten up and I do feel a sort of radiance but they fade because there is no root to them at all. So I have to keep on collecting new ones to keep the fresh effect of the flowers in the room.

Joshu was asked whether there was Buddha nature in the dog and he said ’No’ and sometimes he said ‘Yes’, but Myokyo-ni said, ‘Oh, it might have been on the same occasion, five minutes later’. ‘Oh, I didn’t know that but I’ll put another flower in the vase marked Joshu. And then the riddle of the dog… Is there Buddha nature in the dog? Is there? Aru? or not?

Then the roshi explains, ‘Joshu,’, (Yes, I know about Joshu!) ‘he said that he didn’t start teaching until he was nearly 80’. I didn’t know that – I’ll put another flower in there. He went into the mountains and he met a hermit and he said, ‘Is there? Aru? Is there?’ And the hermit lifted a fist. I know lots of them lift a fist.

Hakuin used to lift a fist and, as a matter fact, that Pure Lander that Hakuin once met lifted a fist too, and in some of the Budo schools they lift a fist – not quite in the same way! Anyway, put another flower in. that’s another one for Joshu.

And then Joshu says something about a boat on a mountain. Oh, I don’t know what that means, very subtle somehow. Anyway, then he goes on and there’s another hermitage and there’s another hermit and we think great God, another of them! And he says ‘Aru? Aru?’ Is there? Is there? and the hermit [the] same thing – well, we know that from before.

But this time Joshu made an entirely different answer and you begin to feel, well, they are all very happy in their own way. But it doesn’t revive the flower in my heart! It makes pretty flowers to go round my room, but in the end there is nothing living in me!

And then I think about these things and we told they are fingers pointing at the moon. Fingers pointing at the moon.. I think oh, yes, yes… fingers pointing at the moon . you know in India there’s a thing – it’s not just the moon, it’s the star Arundhati . oh, you don’t want to hear about that. Oh, well, alright.

But anyway, the fingers pointing to the moon yes, another thing – fingers pointing here and another finger pointing there and then the fingers pointing at the hermit and pointing at the fist and so on and you think where, where, where, where, what, what, what, what .?

And then if I’m really attending, perhaps during teisho, I’m watching the finger. pointing. changes again.. boat on the mountain.fist.other fist… different answer and then during the teisho the finger turns round. Begins to stab into me. That’s a surprise! I was looking for the moon out there. Finger stabs. Then I might feel, there is a trembling in the flower of the heart; something has begun to live.

The second sentence in the Zen summary which Bodhidharma was supposed to have given us, well, it’s translated generally as pointing directly to the human heart but the word can mean a finger, a finger, penetrating to the heart, stabbing to the heart. The first sentence is, ‘Not setting up words and writings’, and very often talks on Zen begin like that. Of course, Zen does not set up words. And books on Zen often begin like that: ‘Zen does not set up writings’. And then you think, yes? Then the speaker or the author writes ‘nevertheless’. and then the whole matter.

But the point of what follows is that the finger should go directly into the heart and not be pointing outside. Is there Buddha nature in the dog? Yes or no?

The great Saigo, at the end of the century, although he ultimately became a rebel, is always called Great Saigo. He was very fond of dogs and kept a dog with him as his companion always. He went to the temple of a great Zen teacher, Dokuon, and the teacher came down from the temple gate when he heard the general was there.

Saigo looked at the dog and he said, ‘Is there Buddha nature in the dog?’ Is there?’

The Zen Master said, ‘General!’

Saigo looked at him, and the Master said, ‘Is there?’

And Saigo went, ‘Ah!’

He went away.

Now, some of the other things I’ve collected are from a Chinese classic of perhaps five or six hundred years ago and it’s often quoted, although, on the face of it, it’s a Taoist classic, by the Buddhists and at least one great Buddhist master received his first impulse in Zen from hearing a verse from this.

The writer uses humour quite a lot and consists of especially remarks on training and living in the world. One of the things he says is, ‘Don’t try to do it superbly well. Not to make a mess of it – that’s enough’.

Then, ‘If you do a virtuous act don’t expect the virtue of gratitude from them. If they don’t actively hate you, that’s enough virtue in them’, and then he adds, ‘and is probably all your virtue was worth anyway’.

Well, this is something that is very useful to remember when one’s done something that one is rather impressed with, and that’s probably all your virtue is worth anyway.

Now, these things are often in two lines of six characters, which is one of the forms of the Chinese poem, but just when you think this is how he writes in classical style, with two lines of six characters, and the thought is a pair, just when you think that’s how he writes, then you get one of three lines:

‘He who does not go near riches and opulence is pure.
He, who though brought near them, is not stained by them,

Is purest of all’.

Now, the modern Japanese Zen commentator who remarks on this, he says this is the Japanese ideal, for instance of Dogen, to go away, leave the capital and found your monastery, Eihei-ji, in the wild, far away from centres of power and wealth and he said this is the Japanese ideal of purity, but the Chinese ideal of purity is a man who can move in wealth and luxury and not be tainted by it.

‘He who does not know any clever tricks and strategies is noble, but he who knows them all but doesn’t use them is nobler’. This again is a Chinese thought.

‘He who constantly hears harsh admonitions, but can use them to clear his heart, they become a sort of whetstone for his training, but he who always hears pleasant things and is complacent about them, he ends up in a ditch of poison’.

Now, an Indian teacher says of this, that the criticisms he said, should be razors to us. He said even in the most pure person, even the most pure man, in this case, egoism grows insensibly from him, like the beard, without his realising it, and that cold criticism is like a sharp razor that cuts it off.

‘The rich man flashes his magnificence but when there’s an actual need to help someone, suddenly he’s got no money like a poor man’.

‘The sage hides his wisdom, as if he hadn’t got any, but in the end there is a light in the people’s hearts’.

And another one: ‘The sage’s illumination is like the sun in the clear blue sky, but he conceals it as if it was in a medicine pouch’.

And the next verses describe that the ignorant man displays his false coins for everyone to see, and the truly wise man conceals the gold of his wisdom, till it’s used very skilfully and secretly.

It is a great theme in Zen – the concealment of this realisation, and there are many examples, like, for instance, an old woman who keeps a teashop but she is able to outface some of the great, very keen spiritual aspirants with her realisation. The Buddha nature, in the form of the old woman, is serving Buddha tea to Buddhas who are half asleep and don’t realise what’s going on. Then he says the ignorant display their imitation false coins.

I had experience of this when I was young. I was interested in Buddhism and there was a lady who seemed to me very old, but of course she wasn’t. It was just that I was young. She had lived five years or so in India when she was about seventeen to twenty two. I think it had been probably mainly a social life, but, anyway, obviously, as she had been five years in India, she had almost instinctively absorbed the whole spiritual flavour and message of the East and would know automatically the meaning of any Buddhist texts or thoughts that would come up.

That was quite clear, but this had to be explained to people whom she might meet, and it was rather a long explanation to make her to the Buddhist groups that she was then occasionally meeting.

So she got the idea of getting all this down into one word, and that word was the ‘Tathagat’. Well, she never called him the Buddha as the rest of the ignorant herd did, but the Tathagat.

She would be asked, ‘Tathagat, what’s that?’

She said, ‘This is the highest title, traditional title, of the Buddha. ‘I don’t expect you to use it, but I always this as a sign of reverence’.

‘Oh! Tathagat’.

And she explained that she wanted the correct word gradually to become known.

She was using this Sanskrit word to impress people, but I was doing a bit in that line myself, and I knew one or two Sanskrit words too! So I looked up this thing and I found that she simply read, with an English pronunciation, TA THA GATA and I discovered that this was a Sanskrit compound consisting of tatha = thus and gata = gone. I pieced these two together from the dictionary and the grammar so I met her and she brought out ‘I’m giving you the actual words of the Tathagat himself’.

So I said, ‘Well, of course, even the oldest of the texts can’t claim to give the exact words of the Tathagata, from Sanskrit tatha, thus and gata, gone. But, of course, there was an oral tradition which may indeed stem from the Tathagata from the Sanskrit tatha, thus and gata, gone. But just the same, it’s obviously a bit dubious’.

She trembled, and she said, ‘I prefer the traditional words of the Tathagat’!

A little after this I was telling this story, and very funny it is, to a man who actually did know Sanskrit. I was saying how pathetic it was, really, that English people who didn’t know were reading this word ‘Tathagat’, without any idea what it meant, whereas it came from tatha, thus and gata, gone.

And he looked at me over the top of his thick pebble spectacles and he said, ‘Oh, well, that’s certainly a very interesting translation because, as you know, it could of course, be from tatha, and gata, but under the rules of Sanskrit, as you know, it could also be tatha, thus and agata, meaning come: “thus come”, and I seem to remember, he said, I’m no expert, of course, and you have been in Japan, but I seem to remember that the Japanese Buddhists call him ‘Nyorai’, don’t they, and I was told that meant “thus come”.

But of course your translation is quite possible and it might be that all the translations made up to now are wrong!

Well, I trembled!

I said, ‘Well, he has been dead for 2000 years, so he must be “thus gone”!’

Well, that made two of us! It’s the Buddha nature sort of standing on his head to amuse the children.

This is what he meant by ‘The ignorant display their false coins in the hopes of impressing the ignorant.’

I will just read two or three more of them and then move on to something else.

‘If he comes with the arrogance of wealth, I meet it with goodwill’.

‘If he comes with rank and power, I meet it with righteousness’.

‘The superior one is not to be caged by a semblance of superiority’.

‘If one is fully determined, he can defeat fate’.

‘If the will is one pointed, the cosmic energy moves for him’.

‘Ambitious men think that they use the world. In fact they are used by the world and then thrown away’.

‘The noble one is not clay to be moulded by some potter’.

‘In your heart stand one step above the world, lest your robes trail in the dust and your feet be washed with mud, but in worldly life keep one step behind the others, lest you be a moth on a flame or a ram caught in a thicket’.

‘Those who hold to virtue will at some time find themselves deserted, but those who rely on wealth and power, will always spend their whole life in dread and loneliness’.

Now, about these words, the Japanese chess system is a lot more complicated than ours, but he said this applies to life and he said it’s the doctrine of karma.

I do this, that’s the first move; there’ll be reaction from the universe, that’s the second move. What am I going to do then? That’s the third move. He said if you examine your life in those terms, just look three moves ahead. If I do this it will come back on me, and then what am I going to do?

Now, the roshi left me a little bequest. We were talking and he said, ‘Well, I’ve finished my sermons but you are giving a talk next week, aren’t you?

And I said, ‘Yes’.

He said, ‘Put this in the talk with one of your ironical stories…’

So this is what he said: ‘I leave you to make up the ironical story. People think that Zen went to Japan because it suited to the Japanese character, and similarly when we take up things we should take what is congenial to us, what suits us, but that’s quite a wrong idea. Zen requires you to stand on your own feet alone, which is something the Japanese people don’t like to do’.

They like to be a member of a group and Hakuin gives this example of Japanese psychology. He said, the trees, the branches interlace, and so the trees support each other and even if the roots all wither, the trees will still remain standing like a table with many legs, although there’s no root, no working root, but when the first typhoon comes along the whole thing goes down. And he said this is like the Japanese people, their religion, and their faith tends to be relying on the other people, they seem full of faith. So I feel full of faith, too.

And then they look at me, and they think, oh well, he’s full of faith, so in that way they support each other, but none of them has really got any faith at all, and so the whole thing is liable to be blown away and the roshi said that in Zen people have to stand alone and put down roots of their own, and he told me that Japanese people don’t, in general, like to do this. They want to depend on each other, and then he said, ‘And they want to depend on me!’

He said, ‘Here, I can be very friendly and meet people very easily because I can see, in most of them, there is a willingness and the realisation that they must try to stand. But’, he said, ‘in Japan I have to be much more distant and austere because otherwise they would cling onto me and get support from me’, so he said, ‘Zen is good for Japan, just because it’s the weak point’.

‘Then he said, ‘Do you to think the same thing applies in the West?’

So I said, ‘Well, yes.. “Love one another, this commandment I give you”, but we have been rather free with burning each other at the stake, in order to keep the words of the scriptures absolutely pure, so perhaps we need a religion of love, because of this’.

Well, he made some sort of comment that Zen was being or would be – the Japanese are ambiguous – is being presented in the West with a great warmth and in Japan it’s often very austere, it’s regarded as austere like a mountain peak.

The last point is about dissatisfactions. He said that, he was talking about the sun, that we don’t appreciate the sun at all, as I mentioned to you, we don’t pray in gratitude for the sun which comes every day, we only curse when it happens to be clouded over. In a play by Strindberg called ‘The Dream Play’, the daughter of the gods comes to earth. She’s given the mission, by Indra, to find out whether there’s anything in these perpetual complaints which arise from this beautiful earth made by Brahma, from these human beings living on it. So she comes down and she investigates, and enters into the lives of the people, and all of them are dissatisfied and profoundly disappointed with various things.

There is one old man, and she talks to him for a bit and he says, ‘You know I’ve had, I suppose, a hard life and I always dreamed of the time when I could retire and I just wanted to fish in the lake with a green fishing net, and I thought if I could just have that, I’d be happy, that’s all”.

Well, the daughter of the gods manages, in her human form, at least, to get that! And the old man does have his green fishing net.

And when she goes back, she’s going to ascend to heaven again, carrying all these complaints and moans and tears and sighs and then, passing, she says to him, ‘Well you, at least, got what you wanted, didn’t you?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I know, I know, it had to be green. But not that green!’

The roshi, when he comes here he says, ‘It’s almost like heaven, your country, with your freedom, and your open spaces, and your facilities for the old, and your marvellous adult education facilities here, and the general kindliness of people. Almost like heaven! He said to me, ‘Don’t the people here feel these green fields in their heart?’

I said, ‘Well, if they could see under the complaints you know, they might be able to find them. We live in a bed of roses but the trouble is some of the leaves are crumpled, aren’t they? And we don’t like pink!’

Well, we are angels, or we ought to be, living in heaven, but a Chinese who knew the British well, said, ‘There is a lot of goodwill among them. They are angels, but they are lazy as hell!’

These things, the kind of pieces that I’ve been presenting, which I myself, got from various sources presented to you, they’re like sugar on the fruit. It’s not the main thing, but it does improve digestion and can make things a bit more tasty and the proper, the formal instruction, on an intellectually and emotionally convincing basis and then the practice, are the actual food, and then these things are like the condiment, or the sugar or pepper and salt, whatever it might be.

It can improve digestion and it’s got a function but you can’t live on sweets. It’s quite an important point to remember. These things can give one a little lift and the excitement to get going, but then you have to have something to get going on, and it assumed, in all these cases, that people are practising seriously.

The sort of Japanese Napoleon was Hideyoshi who began the conquest of parts of the mainland. He died abruptly, but he was a very talented man from the common people, not an aristocrat. He had a rather short temper and his ministers and generals suffered a good deal from this. In spite of all their efforts, they used to get scolded and cuffed or punished, whatever it was .The only man who really got away with things was his sort of jester, Saru, and he got on very well with Hideyoshi. He had responsibilities, executive responsibilities, but they got on very well. He was a clever man and he discharged responsibilities well.

The others, though doing it just as well or better, used to get Hideyoshi irritated with them and they couldn’t think why. So they formed a little deputation to ask Saru how it was that he could get on with the dictator, Hideyoshi, so well and they couldn’t, in spite of all their efforts in their care, and Saru refused to reply, but he invited them to dinner. Well, putting it in Western terms, they came to the dinner, and then first of all soup was served and it was liquid honey and then they had the sort of hors d’oeuvre and they were all various confections, sugar and sweet things, what would correspond to chocolates and marzipan and so on with us.

Then the main dish was served and this was enormous lump of sugar carved into the shape of a swan most beautifully, and he cut it up he and handed it round and they looked, and he said, ‘You don’t like these things?’ They said, ‘Well, everyone likes sweet things but not a meal of sweet things!’

He said, ‘Well, now, that’s it; you’re always flattering the general, Hideyoshi, you’re always very courteous to him, you’re over-polite. You fawn on him and, for him, it’s like eating sugar ceaselessly. Now, I’m rice. I just say, ‘Your excellency I’ve done this, I failed to carry that out. Do you want me to try again or should I give it to someone else? I’m rice. He likes rice. You like rice, don’t you? It’s the mainstay of our meals. So don’t try and smarm him down with sugar all the time, just be rice!’

Well, it’s a little bit the same. One can’t live on lollipops and this is worth remembering, one can be stimulated, entertained, but it has to carry us back to our practice, to our serious practice, and study, or it misses its purpose.

I mentioned yesterday about the karma fan. This is it, you can see the word three. When we write three in the Roman numbers we have three upright fingers. The Chinese and Japanese write it with three horizontal fingers but you can see three moves. Look ahead three moves. If I do this, the karmic response will be that, and then where shall I be?

Just look ahead three moves in life. These fans are used often in illustrations. Fan corresponds to the mind, and one of the traditional stories about them is, that, of course, these things wear out, and one man is very mean and he used to close the fan up and just use one little bit of it, and then his idea was next year he would use the next little bit of it, so he would save the fan like that!

But there was another man who was even meaner. He spread the whole fan out, but he

went…….Well, this tends to be what we do with the mind. The mind is meant in hot

weather, to cool us. When it’s not wanted, we should be able to lay the mind down. This is a tool, an instrument, a very convenient one, and it can be made beautiful, but if the mind becomes a sort of god, I’m sacrificing myself to appease the mind. The mind should be capable of being used very vigorously and then put away. We think, oh, nothing left then! The awareness is left when the mind is put away.

We come to the edge of the picture.

Oh, no! Let’s go back to the colours and shapes and forms of the picture.

We know when the fly is caught in the window, its half open, and he’s buzzing against the glass, isn’t he? He wants to get out into the sunshine. Then we’ve often watched them. They go up the top and there’s the edge of the window there; beyond that it’s open. He comes to the edge, he just comes up a little bit, and we think, oh no, it’s all dark. Back in sunshine… and he’s buzzing against the glass again. If he could just leave that… go on… then he’d be free!

This is used by a teacher as an example. People are going to go beyond the glass of the mind but then they get frightened, and they come back to it, frustrating though is. A little more, and then they’d be free.

Well, I’ll read one translation which I didn’t read yesterday. This is from the Zen master at the beginning of the century. He says, ‘A real fool is appealing and he’s easy to get along with. Then you meet other people who are regarded as fools but actually, when you get to know them, you find they’re rather bright and they’re able to do things, but there is something essential missing always’.

When they go in for anything they’ve got all the talents, all the abilities, energy but there is some essential thing missing.

So it always ends in failure and he says it’s like a fan, like a dancer’s fan. A dancer’s fan has got gold and silver, beautiful pictures, a huge thing. This central pivot here holds the fan together. If this drops out, then the fan just spreads out with no unity at all, and can’t be used. And he said in these people, very talented people; the one essential thing is missing.

And, by implication, he says most of the people in the world are like this; they’ve got talents, they’ve got genuine and beautiful feelings and impulses, but the central thing is missing which would hold it all together and so it comes spread out and it’s useless.

You get little flashes of beauty from this spread-out fan, but it’s of no use at all. It can’t be used for dancing and it can’t be even used to fan yourself in the hot weather.

There’s the fool, the real fool, and then there are people who always fail and so looked like fools although, in fact, they’ve got a lot of abilities, but the central thing is missing which would hold it together and he says finally, ‘The one who thinks of himself as a fool, [as it is said] ‘I know that I know nothing’, he thinks of himself as a fool, as of no account, as of having no superiority over others, then for him the world begins to open out, wide and high and he can become a man of freedom, but while he’s thinking of these little successes and failures he’s held into those.

He gives an example, he says logic is necessary to some extent, you can apply the categories, and you can show that this this this must be so, but the fact is that anyone with a clear mind speaks and acts and makes things without constantly appealing to logic, and, furthermore, the man who constantly appeals to logic misses the inner inspiration and in the end he gets tired and then his logic begins to fray at the edges. Well, this is a profound remark but one thinks of an application in our own day and one of the great adherers of logic in human affairs was Bertrand Russell, a beautifully clear writer.

In his book on education – he never went to school himself, so he had pretty clear ideas on what schools ought to be – he said, you’ve no need for all this discipline and curriculum and so on. Children want to learn and you simply have to give them the opportunity and the facilities and they’ll learn. So he founded a school on this basis; he discovered that this was not so. He says, rather sadly, ‘I spend all my time separating the children. One of them said to me, ‘The big ones hit me, so I hit the little ones. That’s fair’.

But, in his book on education, Russell says, ‘I shall not discuss what to do if there are two or three persistently disruptive children who, not only won’t take any interest in learning themselves, but actively prevent other children from learning. I shall not discuss what to do because, under a proper system of education, such a contingency would never occur’. Well, this was the great disciple of logic, applying his logic, and, yes, one can see the logic of it but actually it’s pathetic isn’t it? He doesn’t know what to say. His logic is rather crumbling.

1.    Rinzai Zen Buddhist nun, Venerable Myokyo-ni, was head of the London Zen Centre. She died in 2007.

2.    Joshu Jushin, great Zen Master in ancient China, 778 – 897

3.    Rinzai Zen Master, Dokuon, teacher at Shokokuji, Kyoto. The meeting was in 1869.

© Trevor Leggett


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