Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Midweek Mysticism: Christianity could benefit from Zen’s school of hard knocks

Fly Whisk Christianity is in the doldrums. It has settled into a comfortable old age, soothing rather than challenging its adherents.

Young people are not replacing the old as they pass away. Its trajectory is all downhill.

But need it be this way? Here’s a radical plan for waking it up to the modern age using the example of Zen Buddhism.

Zen arose out of Buddhism because the Chinese eye spotted what it saw as a major weakness in the older Indian Buddhist system.

The flaw was a tendency to formularising. As in other religions, the basic principles, intended to help the novice towards understanding, had lost their original force. Now they were just familiar phrases for chanting and disputation.

What had once contained a powerful meaning for unlocking the truth had degraded to mantra, a repetitious, magical formula for inducing a trance-like state. Think familiar prayers and hymns. There really is no difference.

The very sound of well-loved passages from ancient Buddhist texts produce in the faithful a soothing reassurance, a warm, self-satisfied glow that makes them feel good, and even spiritual.

The Christian Church has the same problem today when trying to change from the old known texts to modern versions in the vernacular. A storm of protest from traditionalists greets every textual alteration as if the very doctrine were at stake.

The feelgood factor is a strong motivator in popular religion, which is often a branch of the entertainment industry.

The intention of the Buddha, however, was not to make people feel comfortable and secure, but to shake them out of their complacency and force a reassessment of the world in the light of the reality of Buddha-nature, read “God.”

This inevitably meant inducing a lot of bodily and mental anguish in the aspirant. The Buddha never intended his followers to sit around discussing the Twelve-Point Chain of Causation, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Signs of Being or the Ten Stages in the Progress of a Bodhisattva.

Instead, he asked them to confront themselves directly, with soul-shattering insight, to look at the absolute centre of themselves without shrinking from the truth.

It was a bravura performance indeed when a student achieves this measure and comes through into the light of the Buddha-mind (God-consciousness).

A careful reading of the New Testament shows Jesus had the same problem and a similar solution: overturning the tables in the temple was just a start.

Master Rinzai’s apparent violence now becomes more explicable. When the intellect picks up the truth and starts to conceptualise (kill) it, that concept is best slaughtered with a sharp blow, thought the master.

An unexpected whack with a fly-whisk on a mesmerised student’s head brings him back to reality like nothing else does. Strange though it may seem, sudden pain, or shock, transcends the intellect and can liberate the spirit.

This is why suffering is the spiritual forge of many religions, and why the samurai warriors adopted Zen training methods when they were introduced in Japan.

Western New Agers have the same problem when seeking a romanticised spiritualism.

For Zen, the sound of a stone on bamboo, the wafting scent of spring flowers, or a sudden blow are all real, and have been enlightening factors to many a Zen novice. Thinking about them is not. When Zen is at its fiercest, it is precisely at its most honest and direct.

While I can’t see the Church of England introducing fly whisks into its services, it may well be essential to change or die.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Practical Mysticism: A different way of looking at the world.

Recent Related Articles

Do you have a view? Comments Off on Midweek Mysticism: Christianity could benefit from Zen’s school of hard knocks

Midweek Mysticism: Christian mystics may have influenced Zen

Just as
there are two kinds of scientist: those who work from established knowledge; and others who seek to expand that knowledge-base through cutting-edge research, so there are two sorts of religionist: ones who deal uncritically in scripture, while others set out to push the boundaries of faith into areas of personal experience — mystics.

Zen Art
A typical example of mystical Zen art

Scriptural ministers are found conducting services on church premises and otherwise organising fetes and local social occasions. The spiritual adventurer, by contrast, is a mystic who will generally only accept what he can know personally.

In biblical times this division was clear-cut. The mystics were called Gnostics: the knowers. The conventional books were passed down to us by what we call the Catholic Church. Much Gnostic literature is only now coming to light in Egypt, hidden away in urns in bone-dry caves and burial plots.

In 1945 at Nag Hammadi, the biggest cache of manuscripts was discovered by simple Arab farmers. It was lucky that so much survived their rough handling — some were used as kindling on cooking fires.

What was unusual about this hoard was the number of Jewish/Christian gospels discovered. The Gospels of Thomas, Mary (Magdalene), Philip, Truth, and other manuscripts were seen largely intact for the first time since the beginning of the second millenium. They were all activist documents, that is, written in Gnostic terms by mystics.

Some were characterised by a wholly new vocabulary and religious viewpoint. In Gnosticism not all are saved, even by Jesus and his rather theatrical death. In this it resembles Buddhism in which people go round the wheel of life many times until they are ready to rise to the Buddha realm.

In other books, Jesus is not a saviour at all. He rather looks down on his clod-hopping “disciples” but recognises the divine in the soul of his closest friend, Judas Iscariot.

Yes, Judas, the same fellow who takes money from the authorities to betray Jesus by identifying him with a kiss. In the recently discovered Gospel of Judas, the old “villain” is lauded by Jesus in these terms: “You will exceed all of [the other disciples]. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”

This is wonderfully mystical. Jesus’s body is not divine, just the flesh that clothes his soul. It’s also authentic. How many mystics, who know what lies beyond death, yearn to be rid of the decaying carcass that “clothes them”? For them, the problem of human life is not sin but ignorance.

That is also a centrepiece of the Buddha’s message. Not coincidentally, I’m sure, the Apostle Thomas, whose Gospel is one of the Gnostic hoard, is said to have gone to the Madras area in the south of India where he founded a Christian-like cult. His tomb is believed to have been found there and his message influenced the southern form of Buddhism, later promulgated by Bodhidharma, who took it to China around 500 AD, where it flourished as Zen.

It seems then, that the most mystical form of Judeo/Christianity went around the world and could account for some of the remarkable conformity of view of many offshoots of religion that sought knowledge rather than doctrine (see One Simple Thing). We don’t have precise dates for these occasions, so can’t say which tradition influenced the rest most.

A couple of points to end with: the distinguished scholar of early Christianity Bart D. Ehrman, writes of the Gospel of Judas, “Here is a book that turns the theology of traditional Christianity on its head and reverses everything we ever thought about the nature of true Christianity … [T]he truth is not taught by the other disciples of Jesus and their pro-orthodox successors. The Christian leaders are blind to the truth, which was given only in secret revelations to the one disciple they had all agreed to despise: Judas Iscariot, the betrayer.”

I have to say, psychologically and mystically it makes much more sense than the story, as told in the four Gospels, manipulated into shape by the servant of Rome, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, which now form the core of The New Testament.

How it influenced the development of Zen through Thomas, if true, is one of the great untold stories.

Appendix: Belief and knowing
Belief seems to be essential to all peoples. Modern materialist pseudo-religions, such as secularism and scientism, are belief-systems too because their supporters believe in their own views, contrary to other people’s experience.

The problem we have in our scientific age is that our brains play such a large role in the modern world, we mistake them for our minds. The brain is a fantastic tool, like a hammer, a wheel or a knife. Since the European Enlightenment, we’ve been taught to identify with it completely. The result is that most developed humans are trapped in their own heads. Their worldview is limited by what the brain can do and what it perceives.

Everything perceptible beyond the brainview is dismissed as “myth”, fantasy and decidedly primitive. Richard Dawkins, riding on the back of a seemingly ambivalent Darwin, is the high priest of this message.

The alternative biologist Rupert Sheldrake, writes about “extended mind”, showing us the obvious fact that our minds extend well beyond our heads. It doesn’t take much introspection to arrive at that result.

We call explorers of extended mind — more accurately, consciousness — mystics, folk with their heads in the clouds. It’s a term of abuse to scientists. Yet mystics are scientists too, working in areas designated untouchable by the materialists.

Religion is man’s response to the ancient mystical message — that which lies beyond the cage of our brainview. Religion, like philosophy, has followed the worst of science slavishly down its tubular path. It has become an artificial construct, dependent on old, much-edited texts and a lot of wishful thinking. It is a dramatist’s creation, not a God’s.

Organised religions have caused more violence than almost any other aspect of human life. They are widely seen as the economic and political exploitation of who we really are, some more than others.

The mystic knows “God” as the sea of awareness that lies at the heart of everybody’s consciousness, the essence of Being. We rise and fall within it, share its characteristics — even its immortality.

We can be made to believe anything, but only through direct experience can we know the truth. Thus mysticism is empirical in nature, if only anecdotally. You are not a mystic unless you have experienced some of the truth personally. This can’t be turned on at will, or easily demonstrated in a laboratory setting. As a result this field of knowledge will always fail the repeatability test of science, unless, of course, it happens to you.

It is difficult to write about serious mystical encounters because they are experienced by individuals, not crowds. They are not public performances, or moments that can be shared socially. They don’t make news. No one understands someone else’s spiritual experience. And yet, at the same time, this is the field of gold we all share – the very ground and basis of our existence.

John Evans

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

Author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Recent Related Articles

Do you have a view? Comments Off on Midweek Mysticism: Christian mystics may have influenced Zen

Midweek Mysticism: How Zen created Bushido warriors


Taken at face value, there is no more peaceful religion than Zen Buddhism, based as it is on bringing a meditative calm to every aspect of life. Even to call it a religion is not quite right. Much of Zen’s activity is unorganised non-activity — seeing into the truth by adopting a quiescent attention simply to “what is”.

And yet every human grouping has its weaknesses. In Zen’s case it was the growth of Bushido, a militaristic training movement for the soldiers of emperors.

Bushido was a code of honour for samurai warriors. It has similarities with western chivalry but is culturally very different. Followers of “the way of the warrior” dedicated to Bushido were taught fine skills with both sword and bow. They could withstand great pain and discomfort.

As in many martial arts, Bushido emphasises courage, bravery, and unquestioning loyalty to its superiors. Its soldiers were widely feared for their proficiency in combat and their lightning-fast swordsmanship.

Although Zen was well understood in Japan, and as Ch’an in China and Son in Korea, its offshoots moved far from the original intent. Paradoxically, Bushido incorporated the very meditative techniques of Zen into the creation of an unchallengable warrior class.

Young men in particular will rarely be content to sit still and do nothing. Religions have never been far from almost all the major wars in history. Even Nazism grew from a Bushido-like German warrior cult and operated as a perversion of religion throughout its ten-year period of dominance over Europe.

In our time, Zen Buddhism is what it always has been, a poet’s religion. Although its objectives are beyond words and concepts, yet words are among the expedient means it uses to take the voyager to the “other shore”.

For a “scripture without words” it has generated billions of them over the centuries, including pithy koan, said to precipitate enlightenment, and haiku, a 17-syllable poetic form which is intended to awaken in the reader a direct perception of a timeless moment. For example:

An ancient pond,
A frog jumps in,

The onomatopoeic “plop” gives us a pleasurable shock of recognition, bringing the scene to life. In the original Japanese the last line is Mizu-no oto!, or “the sound of water”, which is not a patch on the English version.

Beyond haiku and koan, the famous impenetrability of Zen verse mostly revolves around a single principle: students practise assiduously to enlighten their minds, BUT — and this is the great secret — their minds are already enlightened.

It’s only when they realise this — a long struggle sometimes — that they can declare themselves enlightened. The following conversation illustrates a common teaching method:

Pupil: What are you doing, Master?
Master: I am polishing this brick, as you see.
Pupil: But why, Master?
Master: To make a perfect mirror.
Pupil: But you’ll never succeed. It’s impossible!
Master: The same is true of the mind. No matter how much you polish it, it will never be other than it is.

A little explanation is needed here because in the original language, the words mind and heart are rendered by the same word.

My own usage is that “mind” is the contents of consciousness: thoughts, impressions and feelings, whereas what the master is referring to is “consciousness” itself, principally, personal consciousness (soul), but also impersonal consciousness (God, the Absolute, the Buddha-mind).

The Sixth Patriarch of Zen, Hui Neng — supposedly illiterate, although far from it — would later assert that to practise meditation by sitting quietly without ideas arising in the mind (consciousness), ranks the meditator with inanimate objects.

The only right way, he said, is to free the mind of attachment to objects and forms. All other methods put oneself “under restraint”. He castigated those teachers of meditation who instruct their pupils to attempt to slow down the activity of the mind.

This way can lead, in rare cases, to insanity — a point also made forcefully by Carl Jung in our own times, following the fate of his collaborator, Richard Wilhelm after half a lifetime spent translating texts from the Chinese.

Another of Jung’s contemporaries, Dr D. T. Suzuki, agreed, seeing in it the turning point from which Zen developed in its modern form. If the Buddha-mind is originally pure and undefiled, he asked, why is it necessary to clean it by wiping off non-existent dust?

Moreover, if from the Mind arises this world, why not let the latter arise as it pleases? The most natural thing to do in relation to the Mind would be to let it go on with its creating and illuminating.

The so-called Northern School, he implied, was just creating a Buddha-mind which stands against everyday mind, thus ordaining a dualism which does not exist.

Hui Neng, who instituted the sense of non-dualism in Zen, said: “As long as there is a dualistic way of looking at things there is no emancipation. Light stands against darkness, the passions against enlightenment. … The main point is not to think of things as good or bad, thereby restricting oneself, but to let the mind move on as it pleases to perform its inexhaustible functions. This is to be in accord with Mind-essence.”

It is more than likely that this refusal to make moral judgements about anything, while essential for spiritual progress towards enlightenment, also led more worldly types along the path of the martial arts and the philosophy of Bushido.

After Japan’s near total destruction in World War II, in which Bushido played a large part, the obsessive pursuit of peace has returned to the land.

The question for us now is will China’s sabre-rattling over territorial control of some remote islands, and the threatening behaviour of its client state North Korea, tempt the Japanese back to the Way of the Warrior.

As the horrifying events in Woolwich this week illustrate, any religion is capable of harbouring a kind of Bushido of the soul which releases the dark side of human nature.

Discussion: #zenbushido

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming eventually: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

Recent Related Articles

Do you have a view? Comments Off on Midweek Mysticism: How Zen created Bushido warriors

Sunday Reprise: The Mysticism of D.T. Suzuki

Dr. D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966), a professor at Imperial University, Tokyo, and Otani, Kyoto, is the man best remembered for introducing Zen to the West, but whose life and work extended far beyond that.

DT Suzuki

He was an occasional guest at the famed Buddhist Society in Ecclestone Square, London, especially when the Buddhist Judge Christmas Humphries was its President. He also worked with Carl Jung and many other western luminaries during his long life. His work had an enormous influence on 1960s America and was widely promoted at the time.

It is strange that he is barely remembered now, although Routledge has brought out a selection of his books in a smart 21st-century edition.

We are fortunate to have Suzuki’s description of his own enlightenment. After a period of intense concentration and samadhi — a peaceful state of awareness of the present moment — Suzuki attains satori: “…this samadhi alone is not enough. You must come out of that state, be awakened from it, and that awakening is prajna [transcendental consciousness]. That moment of coming out of samadhi, and seeing it for what it is, that is satori. When I came out of that state of samadhi I said, ‘I see. This is it.’ ”

The next day, after the enlightenment was approved by his master, he walked home and saw the trees in the moonlight. “They looked transparent, and I was transparent too.” This is the state of “seeing into self nature” or, the nature of reality. From that moment he was able to answer the apparently nonsensical questions of his master out of a profound insight.

Later still, working on the records of Bankei — a 17th-century Japanese Zen master — he felt a huge mass of stones “that I had piled up through many years fall away in a moment. I found myself in the unconditionally restful state of mind of as-it-is-ness [Contentment of Soul].”

He compared the human viewpoint with a geometrical point where three dimensions intersect: physical-natural, intellectual-moral, and spiritual. Very roughly, the outer world, the inner personal world, and the world where concepts of “outer” and “inner” have vanished.

We are usually conscious of only two of these lines, but not to the same extent. In the West, the intellectual-moral is given emphasis over the spiritual. This results in an inability fully to grasp the spiritual side of life — religious doubt arises here, as does the “God is dead” tendency of 19th-century materialism and its modern equivalent, militant atheism.

The intellectual-moral line delivers a dualistic view of life. It carves its way into the soft substance of existence, setting up categories and divisions as a sharp stone shatters a car windscreen: the whole view disappears and one is only aware of a network of frosty fragments. However, despite this, there is a “persistent urge impelling the intellect to transcend itself.”

For the intellect to leave its own line and transfer to the spiritual is a kind of suicide, a “losing of life in order to gain it.” Suzuki stresses that there is no gradation here. It is a leap, a letting go — as Carl Jung discovered — for the moment one jumps from the intellectual, one finds oneself on the spiritual.

This is the point at which one becomes aware that, “what is before you is [how it really is!]” For westerners, the leap has to be made from the intellect instantly to the spiritual; that is the moment of enlightenment. For people of the East, who live more in the physical-natural (the vegetable body), that jump is easier. In fact, it’s hardly a jump at all.

From then on the spiritual world lights up the physical-natural with a numinous glow that transforms everything.

Suzuki wrote: “The idea is to express the unconscious working of the mind, but this unconscious is not to be interpreted psychologically, but on the spiritual plane where all traces of discursive or analytical understanding vanish.” He uses “psychological” to describe objects of rational thinking — all else, by implication, is metaphysical.

Suzuki’s mysticism had a huge influence on 1960s America and beyond. Writers, such as Jack Kerouac and Erich Fromm, waxed lyrical over his books, as well they might.

Perhaps the best introduction to his works is the 1957 title, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist, in which he compares the writings of the 13th-century Catholic mystic Meister Eckhart with the ideas of Buddhism — a gem.

Another Catholic mystic, the monk Thomas Merton who was part of that Sixties upsurge in spirituality wrote: “In meeting him one seemed to meet that ‘True Man of No Title’ that Chuang Tzu and the Zen Masters speak of. And of course this is the man that one truly wants to meet. Who else is there? In meeting Dr Suzuki and drinking a cup of tea with him I felt I had met this one man. It was like finally arriving at one’s home town.”

No doubt reflecting the horrors of the 1942-45 Japan-U.S. war, Suzuki eventually came to expound a “world culture,” not of politics, law, institutions or technology as we have today, but resting on spiritual values. He quotes the great German mystic Meister Eckhart:

“When God made man, he put into the soul his equal, his active, everlasting masterpiece. It was so great a work that it could not be otherwise than the soul and the soul could not be otherwise than the work of God. God’s nature, his being, and the Godhead all depend on his work in the soul and that he loves his work! That work is love and love is God. God loves himself and his own nature, being and Godhead, and in the love he has for himself he loves all creatures, not as creatures but as God. The love God bears himself contains his love for the whole world.”

Eckhart was persecuted by the ecclesiastical authorities of his time for his anti-authoritarian stance, as all mystics eventually are. Small, frightened men in power become dictators who see them as dangers to their rule. It is a dichotomy that has lasted down the ages.

For the same reason, Suzuki’s world culture has yet to materialise. Instead we have warring blocs and corrupt international institutions. The European Union is a disgrace to democracy and truth, and refuses to allow mystical religion to have any place within its constitutional dispensation.

The writings of D.T. Suzuki are from another and better world. Perhaps it’s not too late to find it.

First published here on May 1st, 2011.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Mystics in the Modern World is coming soon.

Recent Related Articles

Do you have a view? Comments Off on Sunday Reprise: The Mysticism of D.T. Suzuki

Midweek Mysticism: Clarifying bright virtue

Bankei Calm down, dear, said David Cameron in an earlier PMQs*.

Despite the charge of sexism, it has served him well in the real world where a sense of humour plays to a much larger audience than the grumbles of the lemon suckers.

And, do you know, that’s what we should all do: calm down. Crises go ballistic when the main players panic and lose control, as is happening in the Eurozone, and all over, now.

As a result, I’m going to write about my favourite Zen master, Bankei, 1622-1693, whose whole philosophy — Unborn Zen — was one of calming the fevered breast and seeing things clearly. “Clarifying bright virtue” was his spur and mystical destination.

As an example of true mysticism and conscious immortality, the 17th-century Japanese Zen master Bankei is hard to surpass. In his day he gained rock-star status, drawing enormous crowds to hear his simple message that everyone has “Buddha-mind”.

Dr. D.T. Suzuki, who rescued his work from obscurity, said of him: “His ‘Unborn Zen’ espoused a fresh departure for the first time since … Bodhidharma. Unborn Zen is truly one of the most original developments in the entire history of Zen thought. Bankei, indeed, must be considered one of the greatest masters that Japan has ever produced.”

The scene is the Winter Retreat of 1690 at the Ryumon-ji temple, which was founded by Bankei himself. In the assembly hall are gathered 1,683 people: priests, masters, novices and laity. They come from all the major Buddhist sects in Japan, Soto and Rinzai Zen, Shingon, Nichiren, Tendai, Jodo and Jodo Shin. The atmosphere, though calm befitting a Buddhist gathering, is expectant, for Bankei is the greatest preacher of his age, likened by his scribe to the Buddha himself.

He enters quietly, almost unnoticed. His shoulders are slightly stooped and he is showing his 68 years. The face, however, is strong and set, rather like a bulldog. He has a moustache, a small beard on the chin, and fierce, overhanging, bushy eyebrows. The majestic robe he wears, with its deep, Chinese sleeves, is that of the Rinzai Order. Like most Zen masters he carries a hossu, or fly-whisk, in his right hand.

As he reaches the centre of the low dais, he ascends the high Dharma seat and, for the first time, inspects his audience. There is a momentary buzz of noise and a sudden silence. His face softens and a hint of affectionate humour plays around the eyes as he surveys the gathering. Those who catch his gaze experience for an instant a strange tingling sensation until the sharp concentration moves on to someone else.

He begins to speak. The words are plain and simple without ornament or educated embellishments. He seems to be speaking to you alone.

When I was still very young I discovered the principle of the Unborn and how it works with thought. What we think of as a “thought” has already lost the living reality of the Unborn mind. What is the Unborn? It’s that part of your mind which doesn’t think! When you unexpectedly hear something, you know exactly what it is. This is due to the wisdom inherent in your Unborn Buddha-mind. I tell you truly, if you priests would only live in the Unborn, you wouldn’t be here listening to me now.

Can it really be as simple as that, they think? We have all heard a lot about Master Bankei and his Unborn Zen. The ordinary people worship him and flock to his meetings in droves. He will become the National Teacher, some say, honoured by the Emperor. And some very influential masters swear by him. But Zen has more to say than this, hasn’t it?

Because of the wonderful illuminative nature of the Unborn Buddha-mind, it reflects everything before it and transforms itself into them. In this way the Buddha-mind becomes thought. I want you all to listen carefully now, laymen and priests. Not one of you is unenlightened. Right now, each one of you is sitting before me as a Buddha.

The only thing which prevents them from realising that they are Buddhas, he says, is self-partiality, which manifests itself in many ways and is the major impediment to enlightenment.

Master Bankei talks and answers questions for about an hour until one of his aides reminds him not to overtire himself. He has been ill for many years, ever since the monstrous privations he underwent to reach his perfect enlightenment. He waves the aide away with a reassuring nod; just one minute more, he intimates. I have something I want to tell them before I go. Bankei leans forward confidentially. Come closer now, he seems to say.

All of you are rather fortunate. When I was young, it was not so easy. I couldn’t find a good master wherever I turned. In the absence of a teacher I concentrated from an early age on extremely difficult training. I experienced unimaginable suffering as a consequence, and the effects are still with me, as you can see. This is why I urge you day after day to heed my personal example. I want all of you to realise enlightenment comfortably while seated on your mat, and without all the burdensome work I inflicted on myself.

Finally, the disciple prevails and the master is helped from the high seat, though brushing the assistance aside. There is a murmur of concern which stops as he bows to his audience.

“Take good care of yourselves,” he says, before disappearing through the door.

That was the sum total of his message and method: live in the Unborn mind, the mind outside time and beyond birth and death. Stay centred there and nothing can harm you. It’s the “one simple thing” that all great mystics have to impart. Its sublime simplicity confuses the many who imagine that life must be complex if it is to satisfy their runaway egos.

Bankei was often besieged by supplicants and followers. He never had a moment to himself. As many as 6000 devotees could turn up at one of his meetings, and each would want a personal interview.

This is how Bankei expressed his teaching:

By now you will all have realised that I teach nothing but the Unborn Buddha-mind of great wisdom. We all have it, but most of us don’t know it. The most important thing for you all is to clarify it for yourselves. Just look at you! There’s nothing at all wrong with you, except that you will allow small mistakes to transform the Buddha-mind into thoughts. As you grow older, this becomes a deep-seated habit. So, cherishing yourselves and your ideas, the great primordial mind becomes invisible to you.

On his death, it is reported that he left more than 670 personal disciples, including 270 nuns, together with over 5000 laymen and women who counted themselves his students. Nearly fifty years afterwards, he was posthumously awarded the title of National Teacher by the Emperor.

His true legacy lives on in Japan today, deeply embedded in its culture, artforms and way of life, and increasingly around the world, where modern people are beginning to perceive the attractions of “living in the Unborn.”

Calm down, dears could almost be his epitaph.

*PMQs: Prime Minister’s Questions in the British House of Commons, every Wednesday when the House is sitting.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Recent Related Commentary
Midweek Mysticism: Quakers, philanthropic mystics
Saturday Ramble: How to stay young until you die
Midweek Mysticism: One simple thing
Midweek Mysticism: The war of the worldviews
Midweek Mysticism: The Comforter
Midweek Mysticism: Mystical optimism
Midweek Mysticism: Mystical Roundup
Midweek Mysticism: The march of the clever clogs
Midweek Mysticism: Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
Saturday Ramble: The magic of mushrooms
Saturday Ramble: Rutherford, Quantum physics and Buddhist emptiness
Saturday Ramble: The Green Man
Saturday Ramble: Peak experience is losing your mind
Midweek Mysticism: Socrates — the mystic

Do you have a view? Comments Off on Midweek Mysticism: Clarifying bright virtue