Trevor Leggett – A brief CV

Trevor Leggett – A brief CV Trevor Leggett’s teacher of Yoga and its philosophy was the late Dr. Hari Prasad Shastri, pandit and jnani of India. Dr Shastri was commissioned by his own teacher to spread the ancient Yoga abroad, which he did in China, Japan and lastly for twenty seven years in Britain until his death in 1956. The Yoga is based on the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita but is to be spread on non-sectarian and universal lines. It has a clear-cut philosophy and training method. Trevor Leggett was his pupil for eighteen years and was one of those entrusted with the continuation of Dr. Shastri’s mission. All Leggett’s books on spiritual subjects are dedicated to his teacher. Trevor Leggett had lived in India and Japan and knew Sanskrit and Japanese. From 1946 for 24 years head of the BBC Japanese Service broadcasting in Japanese to Japan twice a day. He was a translator and author of some thirty books mostly on Eastern and Far Eastern yoga and Zen, with some cross-cultural studies. Three of them in Japanese. He also held the rank of 6th Dan in Judo from Kodokan, Tokyo and 5th Dan in Shogi, Japanese chess. …

Read moreTrevor Leggett – A brief CV

Categories CV

Trevor Leggett’s books are concerned with

Trevor Leggett’s books are concerned with   Spreading the traditional Upanishadic Yoga of Cosmic Consciousness, based on the author’s training in a traditional Indian line and his translations of original Sanskrit – this Yoga process is centred on meditation   Zen parallels from his translations of Japanese texts of Zen and Budo (knightly arts)   Training stories of both traditions for daily life

Trevor Leggett book categories

  Book Categories   SECTION ONE: Academic translations of newly discovered texts on spiritual training in Sanskrit and Japanese These texts shed new light on theory and practice Sankara on the Yoga Sutras , Samurai Zen:The Warrior Koans SECTION TWO: Traditional explanations of Yoga and Zen teaching for daily life practice. Trevor Leggett is carrying on an instruction from his teacher, Hari Prasad Shastri, to spread Truth in universal non-sectarian terms. A first Zen Reader,  A Second Zen Reader,  Three Ages of Zen,  The Chapter of The Self,   Zen and the Ways, Realization of the Supreme Self,  Jewels from the Indranet SECTION THREE: Many little known training stories ancient and modern from both traditions. These stories give vivid instances of actual applications to daily life. The Old Zen Master,  Encounters in Yoga and Zen,  Fingers and Moons,  Lotus Lake Dragon Pool,  The Spirit of Budo SECTION FOUR Technical instruction books on Judo and Shogi, Japanese chess. Both Judo and Shogi can be used as ways for inner development. Japanese Chess-the game of Shogi,  The Dragon Mask,   Kata Judo,  Championship Judo

A First Zen Reader

A FIRST ZEN READER Extract All Japanese know of the great painter Kano Tanyu, whose work exists even today. This is the story of the time when he painted the great dragon on the ceiling of the main hall at the temple. It was his masterpiece and is one of the art treasures of the world. At that time, the master of the temple at Myoshinji was the celebrated Gudo, famous as the teacher of the Emperor. He had heard that the dragons painted by Tanyu were so realistic that when a ceiling on which one had been painted fell down by chance, some said it had been caused by the movement of the dragon’s tail. When the painting of the dragon at Myoshinji was mooted, Gudo went to the painter’s house and told him: ‘For this special occasion I particularly want to have the painting of the dragon done from life.’ Naturally the painter was taken aback, and saying: ‘This is most unexpected. As a matter of fact, I am ashamed to say that I have never seen a living dragon,’ would have refused the commission. The Zen teacher, however, agreed that it would be unreasonable to expect a …

Read moreA First Zen Reader

A First Zen Reader extract

In whatever age, the problem of name and money has always been the worst. It is on this point that we go astray or are enlightened, that we sink or swim. There are only two alternatives: to be a king who can use name and money, or to be a slave rushing about in pursuit of them. Many people are entirely the latter. The illustrious Emperor Kiso of the T’ang Dynasty in China once made a visit to the Kinzanji temple on the Yangtze River. At the temple the scenery is exceptionally fine, and the throne was set at the top of the temple tower, giving the best view of the river. The emperor was conducted to his seat. He saw on the great river countless boats, some going up and some going down, some to the right and some to the left, so that it might almost have been mistaken for the sea. He was overjoyed to see the prosperity of the country he ruled: trade and commerce thus flourishing-what we should call today a fully developed country. At his side was standing the abbot of the temple, Zen master Obaku, and the emperor remarked to him: ”How many …

Read moreA First Zen Reader extract

A Second Zen Reader

A SECOND ZEN READER The Tiger’s Cave and Translations of Other Zen Writings Extract From Yasenkanna: to remedy cases of over-tension: I said : May I hear of the use of the So cream? Hakuyu said : If the student finds in his meditation that the four great elements are out of harmony and body and mind are fatigued, he should rouse himself and make this meditation. Let him visualize placed on the crown of his head, that celestial So ointment, about as much as a duck’s egg, pure in colour and fragrance. Let him feel its exquisite essence and flavour, melting and filtering down through his head, its flow permeating downwards, slowly laving the shoulders and elbows, the sides of the breast and within the chest, the lungs, liver, stomach and internal organs, the back and spine and hip bones. All the old ailments and adhesions and pains in the five organs and six auxiliaries follow the mind downwards. There is a sound as of the trickling of water. Percolating through the whole body, the flow goes gently down the legs, stopping at the soles of the feet. Then let him make this meditation: that the elixir, having permeated …

Read moreA Second Zen Reader

A Second Zen Reader extract

YASENKANNA by Hakuin When as a beginner I entered on the Way, I vowed to practise with heroic faith and indomitable spirit. After a mere three years of strenuous effort, suddenly one night the moment came, when all my old doubts melted away down to their very roots. The age-old Karma-root of birth-and-death was erased utterly. I thought to myself: ‘The way is never distant. Strange that the ancients spoke of twenty or thirty years, whereas I …’ After some months lost in dancing joy, I looked at my life. The spheres of activity and stillness were not at all in harmony; I found I was not free to either take up a thing or leave it. I thought: ‘Let me boldly plunge again into spiritual practice and once more throw away my life in it.’ Teeth clenched and eyes aglare, I sought to free myself from food and sleep. Before a month had passed the heart-fire mounted to my head, my lungs were burning but my legs felt as if freezing in ice and snow. In my ears was a rushing sound as of a stream in a valley. My courage failed and I was in an attitude of …

Read moreA Second Zen Reader extract

Championship Judo extract

How to Build Up Attacking Movement One purpose ofthis book is to explain how to build up attacks on Taiotoshi and its main partner Ouchigari, but you can use the method in learning how to master any main throw. Read the whole book quickly once, and then repeatedly run through the flicker at the top right from page 63 backwards to page 13. Then you should have a rough idea of Taiotoshi and Ouchi, and of the spirit of Judo movement. Your Judo progress depends on three main things: free practice (and contest); formal practice of the movements; study. Get first a rough idea of the movement and keep trying it vigorously and enterprisingly in free practice; don’t fuss too much with detail at this stage. Taiotoshi is called in Japan a ‘choshi-waza’, which means that timing and rhythm are all-important. One day your opponent will go down when you hardly realize you have thrown him, and this will give you an idea of what the throw really is. Study is to help you understand the principles of the throw; formal practice is to help you to begin to ‘feel’ the movement. After a week or so splashing around with …

Read moreChampionship Judo extract

Encounters in Yoga and Zen

ENCOUNTERS IN YOGA AND ZEN Extracts …the phrase about pearls before swine came up in one of our discussions on the Japanese radio: ‘Give not what is holy to dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine; lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.’ Like many Buddhist priests, he knew the Gospels, and he said: ‘Yes, they trample the pearls, but why do they turn and rend you?’ I never heard any Christian speak of this, so I improvised: ‘It shows the mindless spite towards what they feel is superior but cannot understand.’ He said: ‘Not at all. The pigs cannot understand that the pearls are superior. You are blaming the pigs, but Christ is blaming the man who throws pearls to them. Naturally they think it is food and try to eat it, but find it is pebbles. So of course they are angry and want to bite him. It is no fault in the pigs. Don’t throw pearls to swine: it is not fair on the swine.’     Picture of the pig reading a book by Jacques Allais, a distinguished master of the Japanese Sui-boku style of brushed pictures.   Chains A …

Read moreEncounters in Yoga and Zen

Encounters in Yoga and Zen extract

Cloth and Stone Cloth against cloth, or stone against stone: No clear result, and it is meaningless. Catch the flung stone in the cloth, Pin the wind-fluttered cloth with a stone. This verse comes in a scroll of spiritual training belonging to one of the knightly arts in the Far East. In these traditions, instruction is given in the form of vivid images, not in terms of logical categories; it is meant to be a stimulus to living inspiration, not dead analysis. The apparent exactitudes of logic turn out to be of very limited value when applied to life, because then the terms can never be precisely defined. In the verse, the catching cloth stands for what is technically called ‘softness’, which is not the same as weakness; the stone stands for hardness, not the same as strength. Softness has a special meaning: it is not merely giving way or doing nothing. There is a strength in softness, but it is not the hard strength of rigidity which has an inherent weakness, namely incapacity to adapt. There is another verse which illustrates these distinctions: Strong in their softness are the sprays of wisteria creeper, The pine in its hardness is …

Read moreEncounters in Yoga and Zen extract

Fingers and Moons

FINGERS AND MOONS Extract As we know the tip of ice above the water is only a small part of the huge mass which is invisible. But with us human beings, us human ice-bergs, it is sometimes a little bit different. … Some of us are swimming around holding up a little tip of ice, and there’s no mass of ice underneath it. But the tip may be very convincing, as if it is shouting: ‘Watch out for my ice-berg!’ Synopsis The book is a transcript of three lectures, kept in its original colloquial style, given to the Buddhist Society. The message of the book is hidden in the title: You can say: A Finger Pointing To The Moon. But to understand the point, you have to try it. On a dark night, stand and point to the moon. When you focus on your finger, it is clear and solid, but the moon is a hazy double ghost. Now focus on the moon; it becomes clear and single, but the finger is a transparent double ghost. It’s the same with spiritual practice. You do have to use the methods, and while you do, they are clear but the Goal is …

Read moreFingers and Moons

Fingers and Moons extract

There was a Master called Iida, some of whose books are difficult to read. They are old books from the beginning of the last century, and I went over parts of one of them with a good Zen teacher who is also an excellent scholar, and he told me: In places, I don’t know what the old boy meant. He just throws difficult Chinese texts at you.’ In one section, however, Iida lists in an illuminating way some of what a former Master (Master Gudo) called ‘Zen illness’. The first Zen illness  is ‘lack of faith’ — that your faith doesn’t go far enough. Iida said, ‘It isn’t so much faith in what will be, as faith in what is’ We have to have faith in what now. We all know what people say they think; it comes out in their words. But often those same words also give away the true state of affairs. Those who have done much Judo might sometimes be asked to control people who are drunk. And anybody who has ever had to do that is very familiar with the phrase: ‘I’m not so think as you drunk I am!’ We know what he means, …

Read moreFingers and Moons extract

Jewels from the Indranet extract

Though one has to practise on a definite line, we revere all the great traditions and schools; my teacher often used to refer to the great Moslem mystic, Rumi, and this is a little poem on the subject. You will see that the presentation is slightly different, but you will see the light, the water and the living stream which is below the desert. It is presented in the terms of Islamic mysticism. A certain man was crying “Allah!” all night until his lips grew sweet in praise of him. The devil said: “Oh garrulous man, what is all this ‘Allah!’ Not a single response is coming from the throne. How long will you go on crying ‘Allah’ with grim face?” The man became broken hearted and lay down and slept. In a dream he saw the prophet Elijah in a garden, who said to him: “Hark! You have held back at praising God, why do you repent at having called on him?” The man replied: “No ‘Here Am l’ is coming in response, hence I fear I have been turned away from the Door.” Elijah said: “Nay. God saith that ‘Allah!’ of thine is my ‘Here Am I’, and …

Read moreJewels from the Indranet extract

Kata Judo extract

Seoinage (Notes) If we take the original three matlengths distance as the ‘demonstration space’, then Tori can mentally mark out for himself the spot which is the centre. He often finishes the second (left) Ukiotoshi about three feet on Uke’s side of the centre. The directions are for Tori and Uke to ‘approach each other’, but in fact Tori generally stands almost still. If he likes he can get himself on to the centre spot to receive the Seoinage attack. But he must do this while Uke is getting up, otherwise it will throw Uke out. In all the waza which begin with a blow, it is Uke who adjusts the distance, and Tori must stand still so that Uke gets himself right. Uke must be careful to step straight forward with the right foot and not across. Uke’s weight comes between the front and right front corner, that is, on his middle toes. The usual thing is for Uke to form his fist as he steps forward with the left foot; he raises it above his right shoulder at the end of the step. Then with the right step he brings it over the top down towards the top …

Read moreKata Judo extract

Lotus Lake Dragon Pool extract

Devil, Devil THERE IS a method of reciting certain sutras, or parts of sutras, in which special attention is put on to the sound uttered. The would-be reciter sometimes practices for a time in the open, intoning the sonorous Chinese monosyllables into the wind on the edge of a cliff, or against the roar of a waterfall. If all goes well, gradually he comes to feel that he is bringing out all his insides with the utterance, and that his voice is penetrating the whole scene before him. It is technically called “reciting the sutra with the whole body.” When he can realize the feeling, he practices to retain it even when he repeats the sutra very softly. He still feels his body one with the sound, and syllables resonating with the universe. It can take a long time to acquire skill in this practice, and some of those who do might certainly have reason to feel pleased with themselves. One of the lesser-known sutras is thought to be particularly suited to this practice, and a city businessman, a practitioner of the method, having heard about it, asked his teacher to coach him in it. He took as his exercise …

Read moreLotus Lake Dragon Pool extract

Realization of the Supreme Self

REALIZATION OF THE SUPREME SELF Extract “One evidence is that texts like the Gita present us with graded practical experiments. Do these, it says, and you can have direct experience of a God who is not simply your own idea. The experience is no illusion, because it is fruitful in life; it gives not only calm inner clarity, but also inspiration and energy for action. You will come to know the divine purpose in outline, and your own proper part in it in detail.” “In deep meditation one experiences how everything is dying: body, mind and every thought. But one can find something that does not die – the immortal in the mortal. And when death comes there is the awareness in the meditator: “I have been here before.” Synopsis The Bhagavad Gita (‘Sung By The Lord’, about 500 BC) is a mystical section of the huge verse epic Mahabharata, and it is often called the Bible of India. Much of the religious instruction in the epic, like that of the still more ancient Vedas themselves, is concerned with how to worship and act so as to bring about rewards in the form of an ideal social order, individual prosperity, …

Read moreRealization of the Supreme Self

Realization of the Supreme Self extract

Chapter VIII Yoga-Power Strength of Yoga The practice of the eighth chapter presents mainly meditations on the Lord felt as within the body. First the mind and the prāṇa currents of vital energy are focussed at a centre in the heart. Then the focussed attention moves up with them to a point on the forehead roughly between the eyebrows. People who try this soon find that the concentration becomes confused. They are not sure when they have enough concentration to begin the move upward, and become indecisive. The Gītā explains that it is done, and can only be done, by what it calls the ‘strength of yoga’. Śaṅkara explains that this strength is in fact the after-effects of long practice, repeated till the saṃskāra-impressions have been formed strongly in the causal part at the root of the mind. The process is then accomplished spontaneously, so to speak, independent of the discursive mind. Repeated practice has laid down impressions which now hold the samādhi completely steady. It becomes a luminous movement, rising of itself, as it were. It is stronger than any interruption because the meditation is based on a natural current, latent in the ordinary man, but now showing itself. It …

Read moreRealization of the Supreme Self extract

Samurai Zen: The Warrior Koans

THE WARRIOR KOANS Extract Painting the nature Ekichu, the 7th master of Jufukuji, was famous as a painter. One day Nobumitsu came to see him and asked whether he could paint the fragrance described in the famous line ‘After walking through flowers, the horse’s hoof is fragrant.’ The teacher drew a horse’s hoof and a butterfly fluttering round it (attractedby the fragrance). Then Nobumitsu quoted the line ‘ Spring breeze over the river bank ‘ andasked for a picture of the breeze. The teacher drew a branch of willow waving. Nobumitsu cited the famous Zen phrase : ‘A finger direct to the human heart, See the nature to be Buddha ‘. He asked for a picture of the heart. The teacher picked up the brush and flicked a spot of ink onto Nobumitsu’s face. The warrior was surprised and annoyed, and the teacher rapidly sketched the angry face. Then Nobumitsu asked for a picture of the ‘nature’ as in the phrase ‘see the nature’.The teacher broke the brush and said, ‘That’s the picture’. Nobumitsu did not understand and the teacher remarked, ‘If you haven’t got that seeing eye, you can’t see it.’ Nobumitsu said, ‘ Take another brush and paint …

Read moreSamurai Zen: The Warrior Koans

Samurai Zen:The Warrior Koans extract

Kamakura Zen The collection of 100 odd koans here presented in translation was put together in 1545, under the name Shonan Kattoroku, from records in the Kamakura temples dating back to the foundation of Kenchoji in 1253 when pure Zen first came to Japan. For a long time the teachers at Kamakura were mainly Chinese masters, who came in a stream for over a century. As a result, this Zen was conducted between masters and pupils not fluent in each other’s language. On the political and religious background, there are explanations in my book Zen and the Ways, in which I translated about one quarter of these koans. In that book I gave some account of the then Rinzai system of koan riddles, and the modifications that were introduced when this line of Zen came to Japan. The text in its present form was reconstituted from fragmentary records in Kenchoji and other temples in Kamakura by Imai Fukuzan, a great scholar of Zen in the early part of this century. He was joint author, with Nakagawa Shuan, of a standard reference book of Zen phrases, Zengo-jii- Imai was himself a veteran Zen practitioner, as had been his father before him, …

Read moreSamurai Zen:The Warrior Koans extract

Sankara on the Yoga Sutras

SANKARA ON THE YOGA SUTRAS Translation by Trevor Leggett About the text This is a ground breaking translation of a major work which surfaced only in 1952. It claims to be by S’ankara Bhagavatpada (700AD), India’s greatest philosopher and spiritual teacher. If accepted as authentic, which seems increasingly likely, it will transform S’ankara studies and parts of Indian philosophical tradition. There is a chapter on this text in Wilhelm Halbfass: Tradition and Relflection, which discusses the text and some main concepts, though not the yoga practices. It is a sub-commentary on the Vyasa commentary (about 500 AD) to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (about 200 AD). This text will entail a re-thinking of S’ankara and his presentation of the Advaita Non-dual doctrine and practice. In his Brahma Sutra commentary, S’ankara rejects two basic tenets of the Yoga school, but accepts yoga practice as authoritative for meditation, and indeed God-vision (sutra III.2.24). S’ankara’s Gita commentary has many of the technical terms of yoga as for instance samahita-citta (8 times); Madhusudana in his own later sub-commentary on the S’ankara, cites nearly all of the first 51 sutras of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra first part. Here in this massive newly discovered text, S’ankara comments …

Read moreSankara on the Yoga Sutras

Sankara on the Yoga Sutras extract

Extracts from S’ankara on the Yoga Sutras In these extracts the translator proposes to give some idea of the original material which this sub-commentary provides for the study of the Yoga Sutras. Purely technical discussions are not included. It is intended that the meaning should be lucid and clear to the general reader.   May/June 2000 The Parallel with Medical Treatment Introductory Note At the beginning of his sub-commentary, S’ankara compares the yogic methods to the four-fold classification of medical treatment. This is familiar in even early Buddhist texts, and it had been assumed that Buddhists adopted it from medical texts. But, as Wezler has shown, the four-fold classification does not appear in medical texts before about 200 AD. Vyasa in the second extract below reproduces the Buddhist simile, and S’ankara echoes it in the first two but the simile in the third one is perhaps original to this text. We can note that S’ankara uses the term Samyagdarsana (right vision), a favourite word which appears repeatedly in the text, not so in Vyasa. Extract 1: Sutra I.1 (p51): No one will follow through the practices and restrictions of yoga unless the goal and the related means to it have …

Read moreSankara on the Yoga Sutras extract

Yoga Sutras introduction for the general reader

The text translated here is an historical find: an unknown commentary on the Yoga sutra-s of Patanjali by Sankara, the most eminent philosopher of ancient India. Present indications are that it is likely to be authentic, which would date it about ad 700. The many references to Yoga meditation in his accepted works have sometimes been regarded as concessions to accepted ideas of the time, and not really his own views. If he has chosen to write a commentary on Yoga meditation, it must have been a central part of his own standpoint, although he was opposed to some of the philosophical doctrines of the official Yoga school. One would expect a tendency to modify those unacceptable doctrines, if this text is really by Sankara. This turns out to be the case. For those familiar with yoga meditation, who want to go straight into the text, here is the method of presentation: (1)    The basic text, the Yoga sutra-s of Patanjali (about ad 300), is displayed in large type thus: sutra I.1 Now the exposition of yoga (2)    Below each sutra is a (mostly brief) commentary by Vyasa (about ad 600). This is printed in italics, and set in from the left-hand margin. Sometimes this commentary is printed in separate paragraphs. …

Read moreYoga Sutras introduction for the general reader

Shogi: Japan’s Game of Strategy

SHOGI Japan’s Game of Strategy Extract The Paratroops   Now that you have an idea of how the pieces work, it is time to introduce you to a revolutionary feature of Shogi, found in no other form of chess. This is the “drop” – a sort of paratroop attack. When you capture an enemy, it is not dead. It becomes yours and you keep it by the side of the board. Any time, instead of a move, you can drop one of these captured men on any vacant square. The piece points towards the enemy, and it is your piece and works for you.   The King moves like a chess king: the rook, bishop, knight have basically similiar moves to the corresponding chess pieces; the Lance is a Rook that can move only straight forward down a file. The pieces are here shown with the Japanese character on top, and a Western-style icon (such as a crown for the King, and a castle for the Rook), and a big initial letter (K or R) below that. In this way players will gradually become accustomed to the Japanese characters, but having always the key on the piece. Two specifically Shogi …

Read moreShogi: Japan’s Game of Strategy

Japanese Chess extract

The Paratroops Now that you have an idea of how the pieces work, it is time to introduce you to a revolutionary feature of Shogi, found in no other form of chess. This is the “drop” – a sort of paratroop attack. When you capture an enemy, it is not dead. It becomes yours and you keep it by the side of the board. Any time, instead of a move, you can drop one of these captured men on any vacant square. The piece points towards the enemy, and it is your piece and works for you.   The King moves like a chess king: the rook, bishop, knight have basically similiar moves to the corresponding chess pieces; the Lance is a Rook that can move only straight forward down a file. The pieces are here shown with the Japanese character on top, and a Western-style icon (such as a crown for the King, and a castle for the Rook), and a big initial letter (K or R) below that. In this way players will gradually become accustomed to the Japanese characters, but having always the key on the piece. Two specifically Shogi pieces are the Gold and Silver Generals: they are like a weaker King. © Trevor Leggett  

The Chapter of the Self

THE CHAPTER OF THE SELF Extracts   S’ankara in the 8th century AD founded four main monasteries, one in each of the four corners of India. The senior in status is at Sringeri in the south, and the late HH Abhinava Vidyatirtha was 35th in unbroken succession there from the founder; he took an active interest in the present book and the later translation of S’ankara’s Yoga Sutra commentary. Basic text, from a lost Upanishad: He is great, a mass of splendour, all-pervading, the Lord. The yogi who practises realization of that in everything, and always holds to firmness in that, will see that which is hard to see and subtle, and ejoice. And whoever sees the Self alone in everything, he is Brahman, glorious in the highest heaven. From the S’ankara commentary: The doshas are obsessive passions, fears, and convictions which obstruct the vision of the Self; the yogas are thepractices which overcome the doshas.   It may be asked, how are those who want freedom to put forth the tremendous efforts in the yogas of angerlessness and the others, which are opposed to the doshas, the cause of life itself? Yogas and doshas are mutually exclusive, like movement …

Read moreThe Chapter of the Self

The Chapter of the Self extract

 The Four Feelings The meditations on four feelings which are to be intensified through meditation are called bhavana, they are: friendliness towards the happy, compassion for the suffering, goodwill towards virtue, and overlooking sin. Shankara in his commentary explains that these are meditations which must actualize themselves. Until the reactions in ordinary life have begun to modify themselves along the lines of the meditations, the cultivation of intensity has only begun. Friendliness -maitri, a great word in Buddhism – is explained as a general gladness at the good fortune and happiness of another. The Mahatma Balarama Udasin, whom Dr Shastri knew and held in great regard, remarks that this friendliness must not be partisanship, what the world calls friendship. It has to be something like the friendliness of the Lord towards all beings – not taking the side of one against another. Shankara in his Gita commentary (to V. 29) stresses meditation on the Lord as the friend of all, who does good to them without expecting any return for it, and who lies in the hearts of all. Worldly friendship, on the other hand, is towards one person identified with body-mind, and involves hatred of those who are against …

Read moreThe Chapter of the Self extract

The Dragon Mask

THE CHAPTER OF THE SELF Extracts   S’ankara in the 8th century AD founded four main monasteries, one in each of the four corners of India. The senior in status is at Sringeri in the south, and the late HH Abhinava Vidyatirtha was 35th in unbroken succession there from the founder; he took an active interest in the present book and the later translation of S’ankara’s Yoga Sutra commentary. Basic text, from a lost Upanishad: He is great, a mass of splendour, all-pervading, the Lord. The yogi who practises realization of that in everything, and always holds to firmness in that, will see that which is hard to see and subtle, and ejoice. And whoever sees the Self alone in everything, he is Brahman, glorious in the highest heaven. From the S’ankara commentary: The doshas are obsessive passions, fears, and convictions which obstruct the vision of the Self; the yogas are thepractices which overcome the doshas.   It may be asked, how are those who want freedom to put forth the tremendous efforts in the yogas of angerlessness and the others, which are opposed to the doshas, the cause of life itself? Yogas and doshas are mutually exclusive, like movement …

Read moreThe Dragon Mask

The Dragon Mask extract

With age, a judo expert’s speed begins to decline and he has to find means to offset this against up and coming opponents. One of them is to establish a psychological ascendancy over a younger man who may be actually stronger in fighting ability. This can be done by preventing the junior from estimating the respective standards of ability. An experienced man can make an estimate easily in most cases by merely looking at the movement, but a young man generally cannot do it without something definite to work on, and he can be prevented from getting the information. The senior’s attacking policy is to attempt to throw only when it is certain to succeed – in other words, never to fail in a throw. This often means waiting for quite a time till the opponent takes some risk and so gives an opportunity. But promising young judo men take risks all the time; they get bored unless they are trying something. The senior’s defending policy is never to take any risk himself, so that the opponent never scores. This is not difficult for a patient man. The physical result of these policies is that in a practice of say …

Read moreThe Dragon Mask extract

The Old Zen Master

“The Old Zen Master – Inspirations for Awakening” By Trevor Leggett This book first published March 2000, consists mainly of talks originally given to the Buddhist society of London over the previous 10 years. The Old Zen Master – Inspirations for Awakening Specimen Chapters Regrets Casual Doubts Taking Refuge in the Sangha Studying the Holy Texts Leaves and Moss East and West Triumph or Success A Hundred Hearings, Not Like One Seeing Sword and Mind Jottings from Zen Master Bukko If You’re Going to Die, Die Quick! Robes of Honour Extract from “Robes of Honour” “…In these ways, we put robes of honour on ourselves, and they hamper us and we can’t do the job properly. In Judo there is a certain grading contest called ‘one-against-ten.’ You have to take on ten men-one after another. They are generally a couple of grades below you, and with luck are so terrified of you, that it is easy to dispose of them. But one or two of them think, ‘Everybody knows I’m going to lose anyway, so I’ve nothing to lose,’ and they come shooting at you, taking fantastic risks. Because you are so sure of your own superiority, which he doesn’t …

Read moreThe Old Zen Master

The Old Zen Master extract

Jottings from Zen Master Bukko Bukko (Buddha-Light) was an honorific title bestowed posthumously by the Japanese Emperor on a Chinese monk, Tsu Yuen, one of the thirteenthcentury Buddhist teachers who brought Zen to Japan. From childhood, Bukko had a fondness for temples and Buddhism. One day he heard a monk recite two lines from a famous Taoist classic: The shadow of the bamboo sweeps the steps, but the dust does not stir; The moon’s disc bores into the lake, but the water shows no scar. This inspired him to search, and finally he found a teacher who set him the koan riddle: No Buddhanature in a dog. It took him six years to pass this one. He could now sit in meditation for long periods without tiring. Sometimes he passed into trance where breath stops. He said that the inner state was that of a bird escaping from a cage. After this, when he closed his eyes he saw nothing but vast space, and when he opened them he saw everything in this vastness. The teacher still did not confirm this as final but gave him another koan. He passed this second one under the teacher’s successor, who gave him …

Read moreThe Old Zen Master extract

The Spirit of Budo

THE SPIRIT OF BUDO Sub title: Old Traditions for Present-day Life Extract The Unforgettable Words of Tani   One evening, however, I felt very tired with a headache. At about seven, I picked up my towel and prepared to leave the dojo. Tani looked across and asked, ‘Where are you going?’ I replied, ‘I feel tired and I’ve got a headache. I’ll come tomorrow’. Tani asked quietly: ‘If a man rushes at you in the street with a hammer, wanting to kill you, can you say, “I feel tired and I’ve got a headache, so come back tomorrow”?’ Then he turned away. His words were like a thunderbolt. I went back on to the mat and practised. After half an hour he said, ‘All right, go home now’. Somehow I felt I did not want to. I went on practising, but he gave me a little push with a smile and repeated, ‘Go now, go now’. This time I went. Later in life, when I have promised to do something but then have been tired or sometimes even ill, I wanted to make an excuse. Tani’s words would return to me: ‘Can you say, “I feel tired and I’ve got …

Read moreThe Spirit of Budo

The Spirit of Budo extract

I began Judo in 1930 at the Budokwai in London, the oldest Judo club in Europe. I was 16 years old. Our teachers were the famous Yukio Tani, 4th dan, who was one of those who had introduced Judo to the West, and Gunji Koizumi, an art expert and also 4th dan. Tani came from a line of jujutsu teachers; his grandfather had given exhibitions before the shogun. While Tani never learnt English well, Koizumi was a cultured man who spoke and wrote good English. The amazing success of jujutsu and Judo, demonstrated by Tani and others against Western wrestlers and boxers at the beginning of the century, had given them a magical reputation of wizardry in the physical realm. Phrases like ‘Verily the soft controls the hard’ (ju yoku go o seisu) became well known. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan and Kaiten Nukariya’s ‘Religion of the Samurai’ led to idealization of the supposed ‘living chivalry’ of Japan. Even sceptical writers like H.G. Wells were impressed. One evening I saw a pair of straw sandals in the Budokwai changing room. They belonged to Tani. I noticed that underneath each sole there was a small piece of metal fixed and wondered …

Read moreThe Spirit of Budo extract

Three Ages of Zen

THREE AGES OF ZEN Extract From Part III, Autobiography of Zen Master Tsuji Somei 1. Master Gyodo used to say:   ‘Zen is something about which someone who doesn’t really know can still manage to write without giving himself away. But if you hear him speak just a couple of words, you know his inner state exactly.’   ‘In order to see the Nature, it has to be fierce as a lion; but after that realization, the practice has to go slow like an elephant.’   ‘If you get through the first barrier (the first koan) without much trouble, you get stuck afterwards and can’t get on. It’s as if you’d thrust your hand into a glue pot.’   ‘However much you go to Zen interviews, and however many koans you notch up, if you don’t get to the great peace …….’   ‘Going simply by the number of koans you pass – however many they may be, it’s no good unless you come to the samadhi of no-thought. In the samadhi of no-thought, there’s no soul, there’s no body, there are no objects of the senses, much less any koans.’   After the experience of profound enlightenment which I …

Read moreThree Ages of Zen

Three Ages of Zen extract

 The bucket without a bottom Imai’s note: The nun Mujaku, whose lay name was Chiyono, was a woman of Akita who married and had one daughter. In 1276, when she was thirty-four, her husband died, and she could not get over the grief. She became a nun, and trained under Bukko. The story is that on the evening of a fifteenth day of August, when she was filling her lacquer flower-bucket where the valley stream comes down, the bottom fell out; seeing the water spilling she had a flash of insight, and made a poem on it to present to the teacher. Later he set her a classical koan, Three pivot-phrases of Oryu, and examined her minutely on it, and she was able to meet the questions. Again she continued interviews with him for a long time, and in the end he “passed over the robe and bowl,” namely, authorized her as a successor to teach. Uesugi, Nikaido, and others had built Keiaiji temple in Kyoto, and asked her to become the first teacher there. It was not unusual in Zen for a teacher to be a woman. After Bukko died, a hermitage called Shomyakuan was built for her at …

Read moreThree Ages of Zen extract

Zen and the Ways

ZEN AND THE WAYS Extract One morning, Abbot Ekido of the Zen temple Tentoku-in heard the dawn bell being rung, and after a little he called his attendant from the next room and asked: ‘Who is ringing the bell this morning?’ The attendant said it was a newly entered boy. The abbot later called the boy and asked: ‘When you rang the dawn bell today, what were you thinking about? …. That was no ordinary ringing.’ Then the boy said: ‘I once heard that whatever you do, it must be service of the Buddha. I was told to meditate on the things as Buddha. So this morning I was thinking that the bell is Buddha, and that each time I rang it the Buddha’s voice was sounding out. Each time I was making a bow, and I felt I was ringing it as a worship.’ This boy later became the head of the great training temple of Eiheiji: his name was Dengo Morita. Synopsis In Japanese Zen, every activity in life, including the martial arts, is thought to be a field for practising inner control, meditation and inspiration. They are not separate, but even the techniques influence each other. The …

Read moreZen and the Ways

Zen and the Ways extract

Shin and ki Shin is the technical word for ‘heart’, including all we call mind and more. Ki is something like ‘vital spirit’. An example is better than theory: in picking up a teacup or throwing an opponent, shin is the notion of doing it, including the emotional colouring, ki is the ‘feel’ of initiating and continuing the movement conformably to distances and timing. What is technically called strength is grasping the teacup or making the throw: ki is still functioning, but with untrained people it tends to be felt less clearly when strength is being exerted. These things may be pure and in conformity with the cosmic principle (ri), or impure and centred round an individual self. When shin is pure, thoughts do not arise from selfishness or passion, and inspiration passes through it. When impure, it is distorted and dark: everything has to pass through filters of ‘will this be good for me?’ ‘will this get me what I want?’ ‘how shall I look while I am doing it?’ ‘what shall I do if it does not come off?’ ‘how terrible that might be!’ and so on. It is tense (‘hard’) and cannot adapt to changing situations. When …

Read moreZen and the Ways extract

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!