Great Fool: Zen Master Ryokan : Poems, Letters, and Other Writings

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Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831) remains one of the most popular figures in Japanese Buddhist history. Despite his religious and artistic sophistication (he excelled in scriptural studies, in calligraphy, and in poetry), Ryokan referred to himself as "Great Fool," refusing to place himself within any established religious institution. In contrast to Zen masters of his time who presided over large monasteries, trained students, or produced recondite treatises, Ryokan followed a life of mendicancy in the countryside. ...
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Overview

Taigu Ryokan (1758-1831) remains one of the most popular figures in Japanese Buddhist history. Despite his religious and artistic sophistication (he excelled in scriptural studies, in calligraphy, and in poetry), Ryokan referred to himself as "Great Fool," refusing to place himself within any established religious institution. In contrast to Zen masters of his time who presided over large monasteries, trained students, or produced recondite treatises, Ryokan followed a life of mendicancy in the countryside. Instead of delivering sermons, he expressed himself through kanshi (poems composed in classical Chinese) and waka (poems in Japanese syllabary) and could typically be found playing with the village children in the course of his daily rounds of begging. Great Fool is the first study in a Western language to offer a comprehensive picture of the legendary poet-monk and his oeuvre. It includes not only an extensive collection of the master's kanshi, topically arranged to facilitate an appreciation of Ryokan's colorful world, but selections of his waka, essays, and letters. The volume also presents for the first time in English the Ryokan zenji kiwa (Curious Accounts of the Zen Master Ryokan), a firsthand source composed by a former student less than sixteen years after Ryokan's death. Consisting of anecdotes and episodes, sketches from Ryokan's everyday life, the Curious Accounts is invaluable for showing how Ryokan was understood and remembered by his contemporaries. To further assist the reader, three introductory essays approach Ryokan from the diverse perspectives of his personal history and literary work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824817770
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press, The
  • Publication date: 4/28/1996
  • Pages: 306
  • Product dimensions: 6.19 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Essays
Ryokan of Mount Kugami 3
A Poetics of Mendicancy: Nondualist Philosophy and Ryokan's Figurative Strategies 23
Commemorating Ryokan: The Origin and Growth of Ryokan Biographies 76
Translations
Translators' Note 91
Curious Accounts of the Zen Master Ryokan 94
Kanshi (Poems in Chinese) 107
My Poems Aren't Poems 107
With My Begging Bowl 111
In My Hut 117
Playing with the Children 132
Mountains and Mists 135
Wandering 139
Meditations 147
Neighbors and Friends 168
Butterfly Dreams 181
Strolling without a Care 192
Waka (Poems in Japanese) 203
Dew on the Lotus 217
Letters 223
Reflections on Buddhism 240
Invitation to the Way 240
The Priesthood 241
On Begging One's Food 242
Fragments 245
Words of Advice 247
Finder's Lists 255
Notes 259
Select Bibliography 291
Index 295
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