I stumbled upon this book, in a japanese bookstore in N.Y., several years ago. Only now, that the common mortal cannot buy it, I fully realize how lucky and well directed my compulsion to buy books was, in that instance. An excellent travelling companion, this anthology of japanese folk zen sayings has never let me down, in times of trouble, sorrow and joy.
This is an outstanding compilation, by Zen scholar Soiku Shigematsu, of japanese tanka (five lines), haiku (three)and dodoitsu (four) mostly from the Zenrin Segoshu, a handbook compiled in japanese by Zen masters to meet the demands of those Zen students that found the Zenrin Kushu difficult to read, because it was written in Chinese. It must be remembered that the classical study of koan in the Renzai Zen monasteries required students to dwell in jakugo or capping phrase exercises. Once the first phase of the koan analysis is over, the student must pick a capping phrase from thousands of poems in a special anthology (the only book allowed in the meditation hall), that best expresses the mental and physical state reached by him through meditation. This exercise
of course leads to the study of all the poems in the anthology and therefore expands the students knowledge and understanding of the Zen culture and classic texts.
In order to give an idea of the poems that this book contains and to promote a new printing of it, here are some of the jewels from this paper box:
But there's never:
Moon in the water.
"There is", someone says,
And we stick to that "there is."
See there's nothing-
Only the sound
Of the pine wind from the beach.
Since legendary times,
Nothing has changed:
Running water and the love
Between woman and man.
In the dark
I lost sight of
I've found it again
By the fire I lit.
Little clear streams rustle
Down through the mountain rocks
And finally let the battleship
Float on the sea.
THIS BOOK MUST BE REPRINTED FOR THE DELIGHT OF COMMON FOLKS AND POETRY FANS.
The night before I found this book I had a dream about it... A mentor of mine who died two years before was in the dream and he showed it to me and I think he said to read it or he had read it... The next day I saw it at a half price book store... It caught my eye because the cover was the same as in the dream.. When I read the introduction it said this was the same book Zen monks must memorize and always have a copy of in their pocket... Upon reading the book I thought it was excellent..!! I forgot all about why I picked it up... I think I must have read it three times... Like a block head I traded it in at a used book store for beer money and thought it would be easy to find somewhere else... Now it's out of print... and I'm still looking for it...sigh..