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Thread: Ikkyū Sōjun

  1. #1

    Ikkyū Sōjun

    Hello everyone,

    what do you think about Ikkyū Sōjun? I am really fascinated by him. I was hosted in Kyotanabe by a half Japanese girl and she told me about him. I went to meditate to his temple in Kyotanabe and I read his life. He was a "rebel", contesting about ritualism, superficiality and political power eagerness of the Zen monks in that period. He focused his life mostly on Zazen practice and enjoying life with women and alcohol. He considered meditation and sex both Zen. He was called "Crazy Cloud" because he used wandering all around hanging out with artists and "normal" people, including prostitutes.

    Here some poems of him:

    Exhausted with gay pleasures, I embrace my wife.
    The narrow path of asceticism is not for me:
    My mind runs in the opposite direction.
    It is easy to be glib about Zen -- Ill just keep my mouth shut
    And rely on love play all the day long.

    If some day you get around to looking for me,
    Try the fish-shop, the wine parlor, or the brothel.

    After Im gone, some of you will seclude yourselves in the forests and mountains to meditate,
    while others may drink rice wine and enjoy the company of women.
    Both kinds of Zen are fine, but if some become professional clerics,
    babbling about Zen as the Way, they are my enemies.

    What do you think about him and his teachings? I see some resemblances with Tantra approach from India, which says that all that is considered impure and profane, is actually as sacred and divine as the sacred things. All depends on the intention, more than the external practice.

  2. #2
    Hi Agarash,

    Would you mind to sign a first name to your posts (maybe put a human face photo too)? lt help us stay a little more human around here. Thank you.

    Oh, l like the "rebel" and the bringing it our in the world, and down to earth, part of lkkyu. l am a fan.

    But you know what?

    My opinion of the drinking and some of the womanizing in the brothels has changed recently. (l actually mentioned this yesterday, when Kirk and l were recording Episode 3 of the "Zen of Everything" podcast, due out this Friday). Frankly, for that part, l don't think it was really a teaching or "tantra" (the Tibetans, by the way, don't really have sex in a way you would usually think of "sex," but that is off topic). Now, l think that it is more likely that lkkyu Sojun was a wonderful teacher in many ways, but was also just a drunk and a old horn dog in that other part of his life. l don't now think of it as a "teaching," or "iconoclasm," so much as that he liked his sake and his girls for hire.

    l think he is a lot like Trungpa in this way, a wonderful teacher in some ways, but an alcoholic and sex fiend in other parts of his life. Hopefully lkkyu just paid for it, and was otherwise an honorable guy, and wasn't the psychological and sexual abuser that a couple of so-called "teachers" have been like Sasaki and Shimano.

    This came to me when l read some other translations of lkkyu poems last week, some of which are quite something (granted, these are translations, and l have not looked yet at the original Japanese.)

    all koans just lead you on
    but not the delicious p**sy of the young girls I go down :

    a beautiful woman's hot vagina's full of love
    I've given up trying to put out the fire of my body

    a crazy lecher shuttling back and forth between whorehouse and bar
    this past master paints south north east west with his c*ck


    And so on.

    ln his last years, he settled down pretty much with one woman, a visually impaired concubine, and that was another part of his life. Before that, not a teaching, just a guy who liked to party, get drunk and screw. Then he would put his robes on and head back to the monastery.

    No problem, and at least he was honest and open about it.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-10-2019 at 11:19 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi guys,


    Agarash, I'm pretty sure Ryokan (another Priest/poet) also like sake as he mentions drinking with farmers and other people he encountered during his comings and goings.

    Incidentally, can anyone recommend a good translation of Ikkyu poems? I'd like to read them.


    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday/lah
    Last edited by Hoseki; 07-10-2019 at 12:21 PM. Reason: typo

  4. #4
    There are two good translations. The one that Jundo quotes from, and that I was reading which led me to mention Ikkyu is this one:

    https://amzn.to/2xGvHWl

    It's a very terse, rough collection of poems, but I love it.

    This one:

    https://amzn.to/2LN2IZh

    is a lot more sedate, and doesn't move me as much.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    I know nothing.

  5. #5
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    There are two good translations. The one that Jundo quotes from, and that I was reading which led me to mention Ikkyu is this one:

    https://amzn.to/2xGvHWl

    It's a very terse, rough collection of poems, but I love it.

    This one:

    https://amzn.to/2LN2IZh

    is a lot more sedate, and doesn't move me as much.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    Awesome! Thanks Kirk

    Gassho
    Sattoday/lah
    Hoseki

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Virginia, USA
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    There are two good translations. The one that Jundo quotes from, and that I was reading which led me to mention Ikkyu is this one:

    https://amzn.to/2xGvHWl

    It's a very terse, rough collection of poems, but I love it.
    I just want to second this opinion. That first book is a lovely presentation - simple and direct.

    I cannot speak to the historical accuracy of it, but I enjoyed this fun little graphic novel covering parts of his life and teaching (not so much the bars and brothels):
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/1932293884..._ldFjDbN6ENMCQ

    Jundo points to some of the things that must have made Ikkyu quite an iconoclast in his place and time. Perhaps less so for folks today? I don't know. But some of his poetry really resonates with me.


    My personal favorite from a Dharma / practice point of view:

    This boat is and is not.
    When it sinks both disappear.



    Another favorite that brings to mind Dogen's "Mountains and Rivers Sutra" - directing us to the teachings of the world itself. The sky itself opens its mouth and expounds the Dharma:

    Without a bridge clouds climb effortlessly to heaven.
    No need to rely on anything Gotama Buddha taught.


    I have both hanging on the wall over my desk.

    Deep bows to this flawed human teacher, and to all teachers in all places and times.

    Gassho,
    Sekishi
    #sat
    sekishi
    石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui Geika's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    San Diego County, California
    Yes, best probably to not imitate his lifestyle to the fullest! Although definitely an excellent poet.

    I get what he is pointing to. I am no ascetic either! I am guessing very few of us here are.

    I feel able in mind to engage fully in the ongoing practice of this life while enjoying food, lovemaking, crude humor, video games, so much music, and a little cannabis and whiskey. The Dharma is always pervasive, but I do not make excuses for these activities as the gates of Zen. They have their own times and places in the flow of life, and for many, any these things that are innocent in my own life can become poison in another's. It is all too easy to say that everything is Zazen and we are already enlightened.

    So, I will continue to sit with sober mind and body, and eat healthy and go to bed early... with a little bit of party on the side.

    And please take nothing I have written as teaching. Just my thoughts.

    Gassho

    Sat today, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    There are two good translations. The one that Jundo quotes from, and that I was reading which led me to mention Ikkyu is this one:

    https://amzn.to/2xGvHWl

    It's a very terse, rough collection of poems, but I love it.

    This one:

    https://amzn.to/2LN2IZh

    is a lot more sedate, and doesn't move me as much.

    Gassho,

    Kirk
    Thank you!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Agarash,

    Would you mind to sign a first name to your posts (maybe put a human face photo too)? lt help us stay a little more human around here. Thank you.

    Oh, l like the "rebel" and the bringing it our in the world, and down to earth, part of lkkyu. l am a fan.

    But you know what?

    My opinion of the drinking and some of the womanizing in the brothels has changed recently. (l actually mentioned this yesterday, when Kirk and l were recording Episode 3 of the "Zen of Everything" podcast, due out this Friday). Frankly, for that part, l don't think it was really a teaching or "tantra" (the Tibetans, by the way, don't really have sex in a way you would usually think of "sex," but that is off topic). Now, l think that it is more likely that lkkyu Sojun was a wonderful teacher in many ways, but was also just a drunk and a old horn dog in that other part of his life. l don't now think of it as a "teaching," or "iconoclasm," so much as that he liked his sake and his girls for hire.

    l think he is a lot like Trungpa in this way, a wonderful teacher in some ways, but an alcoholic and sex fiend in other parts of his life. Hopefully lkkyu just paid for it, and was otherwise an honorable guy, and wasn't the psychological and sexual abuser that a couple of so-called "teachers" have been like Sasaki and Shimano.

    This came to me when l read some other translations of lkkyu poems last week, some of which are quite something (granted, these are translations, and l have not looked yet at the original Japanese.)

    all koans just lead you on
    but not the delicious p**sy of the young girls I go down :

    a beautiful woman's hot vagina's full of love
    I've given up trying to put out the fire of my body

    a crazy lecher shuttling back and forth between whorehouse and bar
    this past master paints south north east west with his c*ck


    And so on.

    ln his last years, he settled down pretty much with one woman, a visually impaired concubine, and that was another part of his life. Before that, not a teaching, just a guy who liked to party, get drunk and screw. Then he would put his robes on and head back to the monastery.

    No problem, and at least he was honest and open about it.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    I just tried to upload a photo with no result...

    You can call me Tommy. Agarash is an old nickname I used to have when I was into Heavy Metal... It's a character of two series of books I used to love so much: Lonewolf and Greystar the Wizard.

    Anyway, are you saying that all of his teaching are from the last period of his life, when he settled down with the blind singer?

    I don't think he was just a drunk and horny dog. His way to describe (just taking a cue from the poem you quoted) the vagina, the sexual act, his addiction to sex in something similar to what you can find in Rumi's poems. To see a vagina and not just seeing that, but also the gate from which you came to this world it's something mystical.

    I am not into alcohol, thank God, but I can really relate with the sexual side that he had. I was a monk for 7 years, living in total chastity. I could manage it, it wasn't to hard, to be honest. And when I quit it wasn't because of sex but mostly because of obedience. However, since I have started again to make love I can say that is something divine. When I mentioned tantra, I didn't mean the specific techniques from Tibet or India, but more the approach. In Hindu Tantra, women are worshipped like a Goddess. The sexual act is so important that they could have written poems like Ikku's poems. Do you know what I am trying to say?

    After some Ayahuasca experience, I have got some interesting experience during sex, just to say.


    Thanks to all you folks for your participation.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Agarash View Post
    I just tried to upload a photo with no result...

    You can call me Tommy. Agarash is an old nickname I used to have when I was into Heavy Metal... It's a character of two series of books I used to love so much: Lonewolf and Greystar the Wizard.

    Anyway, are you saying that all of his teaching are from the last period of his life, when he settled down with the blind singer?

    I don't think he was just a drunk and horny dog. His way to describe (just taking a cue from the poem you quoted) the vagina, the sexual act, his addiction to sex in something similar to what you can find in Rumi's poems. To see a vagina and not just seeing that, but also the gate from which you came to this world it's something mystical.

    I am not into alcohol, thank God, but I can really relate with the sexual side that he had. I was a monk for 7 years, living in total chastity. I could manage it, it wasn't to hard, to be honest. And when I quit it wasn't because of sex but mostly because of obedience. However, since I have started again to make love I can say that is something divine. When I mentioned tantra, I didn't mean the specific techniques from Tibet or India, but more the approach. In Hindu Tantra, women are worshipped like a Goddess. The sexual act is so important that they could have written poems like Ikku's poems. Do you know what I am trying to say?

    After some Ayahuasca experience, I have got some interesting experience during sex, just to say.


    Thanks to all you folks for your participation.
    Hi Agarashi,

    Here are some recent instruction on uploading the photo. Sorry it is so tricky. Blame the softward designers.

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...l=1#post243348

    I believe that Ikkyu was brilliant, a gifted poet, breath of fresh air in the Sangha, and a fellow who loved Mori and was open about sex.

    But Buddhist priests in those days (which is what he was at the time, not a lay person) were to be celibate. He was not being "mystical," it was not "tantra," but was just heading down to the brothel, getting drunk and having sex. He also wrote most of his poems about his own enjoyment and pleasure, not about the poor girls he was dealing with most of whom were probably sold into that life of servitude by their families (he only writes about the feelings of Mori, the woman he came to love, not the other girls and boys). He can put all the lovely poetic words on it in his poems, but in the end, he was another guy in a bar.

    Personally, I agree with you about the beauty and power of sex and love. I am married, I have kids. I am with everything that you are saying.

    But Ikkyu is regularly held up by people as a symbol that it is okay to break vows, drink to excess and have meaningless sex. No, that is wrong. I feel that we can honor Ikkyu for the free spirit and breath of fresh air that he was, but in this one corner of his life, recognize him as a dirty old man who liked to screw young girls in brothels. We do not need to celebrate all of it as "Dharma" or "a Teaching" or "Crazy Wisdom" or "Enlightened Activity."

    Sex is a beautiful thing, and we can love and celebrate sex! It is wondrous, it is a miracle! I myself am a married priest who has been known to have sex now and then .

    However, let us not turn every trip to the cat house by a horny teacher into an example of "Enlightenment." Probably the enlightenment was mostly in his pants.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 07-17-2019 at 02:33 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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