Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:09 pm

Hakuin's writings which contain the best-known descriptions of two of the internal practices used in Japanese Rinzai Zen, the Nanso no Ho and Naikan no Ho practices used to strengthen energy and remedy imbalances, are Yasen Kanna ("Idle Talk on a Night Boat") and Orategama ("The Embossed Tea Kettle").

Here are a few translations of these which are still available. I'd be interested to see any other resources...please post them if you have them!


A good translation of the preface to Yasen Kanna, in which the naikan method is summarized, may be found in one of Shodo Harada Roshi's articles here:

http://www.onedropzendo.dk/nyhedsbreve/nr_80_jun09.pdf


For those with access to JSTOR, an older translation of Yasen Kanna is here:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2 ... 1142921043


Yampolsky's The Zen Master Hakuin contains a translation of Orategama:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Master-Hakuin ... 0231060416


Wild Ivy, Waddell's translation of Hakuin's autobiography:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/157062 ... B000N9FVM0


Finally, translations of both Orategama and Yasen Kanna be found in this volume which has been posted online (pdf):

http://www.naturalthinker.net/trl/texts ... Kettle.pdf
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Matylda » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:46 pm

I have to say that it is not complete practice only the outer and general sketch.. Torei Zenji left much more details, they were transmitted mostly in private and I do not know of any text for it.

However I heard about those instructions.. they vary in dependence on particular ''disease'' how to say which has to be consulted by an experienced teacher and meditator, who can also judge from the pulse of disciple.. but those general descriptions are not harmful probably. Anyway there are 3 general ways of practicing naiso or naikan.

Might be they are based on domination of particular root poison, since they are connected to the sides and center of the body. The nectar is going some different ways and modes. If particular diseases are connected to root poisons as well as particular ''zen sickness'' is rooted in one of them then it could make a big sense. Torei was an author of diagrams for these practices, this I have seen myself. As far as I recall the diagram was based solely on his own experience. But might be he got it from Hakuin with all details.
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Sat Oct 13, 2012 5:54 pm

Matylda wrote:I have to say that it is not complete practice only the outer and general sketch.. Torei Zenji left much more details, they were transmitted mostly in private and I do not know of any text for it.


I agree. And practice details would be difficult to learn from reading even if they were published openly.

But I'm interested to find out what resources are out there. Perhaps someone will bring forth something new that's been published someplace.

Thank you for mentioning Torei's diagrams, we have general ones but nothing drawn by Torei that I know of. I'll email my teacher to ask about it.

~ Meido
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby passel » Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:09 pm

Waddell's recent translation from Counterpoint, called Hakuin's Precious Mirror Cave, has a rich translation of Idle Talk on a Night book which is longer and much richer than the one I remember from reading Wild Ivy. It's probably what you're looking for.
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Fri Oct 19, 2012 5:04 pm

Thanks for reminding, that is a good translation to add to the list:

http://www.amazon.com/Hakuins-Precious- ... 1582434751

Also, here is a Waddell translation of Yasen Kanna side-to-side with one by Leggett:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/60202616/Yasenkanna-Compare

Regarding the drawings Matylda mentioned, I inquired with one of my teachers. He himself has not seen drawings actually by Torei, but conjectures as Matylda did that they may have expressed Torei's personal experiences. He also mentioned that Torei studied Shinto deeply and was involved with practice methods coming from those traditions (as was Suio, another of Hakuin's successors), and that Hakuin in his late age was influenced by Torei. So that is another interesting point.

The drawings I have seen are very general as mentioned, simply expressing facets of what is described in Yasen Kanna. I would not say they are crucial to understanding the practice of naikan as transmitted in our line, and one could not learn the practice from such drawings without receiving the oral instruction. They are simply illustrative accompaniment to what Hakuin said and so useful in that regard.

Thanks again, Matylda, for sharing the really interesting information.

Nice to have a list of these translations here. If anyone knows of others, or has any additional resources to describe or make available, please add them.

~ Meido
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Matylda » Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:11 am

Meido wrote:
The drawings I have seen are very general as mentioned, simply expressing facets of what is described in Yasen Kanna. I would not say they are crucial to understanding the practice of naikan as transmitted in our line, and one could not learn the practice from such drawings without receiving the oral instruction. They are simply illustrative accompaniment to what Hakuin said and so useful in that regard.
~ Meido


Yes of course it was only a picture, and one has to have oral instruction. What struck me really was, that the whole thing was in colors. Very unusual. Another thing is that somehow I trace it to Kenninji, it was there where I have seen it, but only good photo of it, not the original. So it could be one of their treasures. But they do not show it to anyone basically. So one cannot find it in any picture catalogs of this monastery.

I had very short explanation of the three basic methods, since I did not intend to practice it at that time I did not ask further. I also got some explanation how it works, so one has to go through the test of diagnosis, like pulse etc. to decide which method should be used. I was only a listener of a very kind talk... I used myself the naikan method ages before the meeting, maybe for about three years and it was very helpful, and the talk I heard happened about 10 or 12 years ago. So not much is left in my memory. It is interesting that it has also some similarity with Tibetan practice of Vajrasattva... there is one very famous and beautiful big figure of Vajrasattva in Toji, Kyoto, but I do not know if Shingon is using in the same way like Tibetan schools.

However I never heard or read in Tibetan context so meticulous explanation of the nectar like the one by Hakuin. It is sort of crucial also for the success in this practice. Anyway Hakuin pointed that it gives all possible qualities of attaining enlightenment.
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:21 pm

A few more resources, not from Hakuin but useful. I'll expand the focus of this thread somewhat and post general resources that come to my attention:


Durckheim's Hara, the Vital Center of Man:

http://www.amazon.com/Hara-Center-Karlf ... 1594770247


Trevor Legget's Zen and the Ways, which contains some relevant training exercises:

http://www.amazon.com/Zen-Ways-Trevor-L ... d+the+ways


Another Legget book, The Warrior Koans: Early Zen in Japan. This contains a number of translated anecdotes from early records revealing the physicality training done during the Kamakura period when native Chinese Ch'an teachers, fleeing the Mongols, were showing up in Japan. These include koan requiring concrete demonstration of one's internal development and power of the katsu in order to pass through. Very interesting reading.

http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Koans-Ear ... rrior+koan


Finally, an interesting little book called The Art and the Way of Hara, by Rev. Seigen Yamaoka, a well-known Shin Buddhist leader. Recently found this one in a used bookstore. It contains an overview of how the hara and its development are viewed by, and reflected in, various aspects of Japanese culture and language. A few simple exercises are included. Most interesting to me is an endorsement from Joshu Sasaki Roshi on the back cover: I would like to give praise to Seigen Yamaoka's great effort and kindness in making thsi book available for the the benefit of English-speaking people. He has brought the fundamental teaching of Buddhism into clear focus through his clear discussion and methods of training the hara, the core of Buddhist meditation. Practicing hara, as the author shows well, takes one to the Buddha's fundamental experience.

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Way-Hara-Haru ... ay+of+hara
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:21 pm

The Hojo kata: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pd7IXus0RZo

Originally part of the Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage Ryu, a tradition of Japanese swordsmanship, these forms are used by some students in the Rinzai lines stemming from the late Omori Sogen Roshi (who is seen in the video). Within that context they are not practiced as martial art, but rather to impart fundamental principles of posture, breath and kiai (intense energy) useful for Zen training as a whole. Their purpose is described thus: "To remove all habits acquired since birth and reveal the originally pure and bright body".

The four kata are performed using the dynamic "A-Un" breathing method. Handed down with each is a traditional phrase describing it, which may be taken up as koan within the movement.
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Re: Rinzai internal practices: Hakuin's writings

Postby Meido » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:28 am

A concise description of a preliminary breathing method used before zazen in Rinzai practice; this is from Omori Sogen Roshi's Sanzen Nyumon, translated into English as "An Introduction to Zen Training": http://www.amazon.com/Introduction-Zen- ... 0804832471

There are many ways of deep breathing but the following method is the one I use [before beginning zazen]. I exhale long with my mouth open as if trying to connect the air around me with my lower abdomen. Without using my throat or chest, I keep exhaling a long fine stream of air using the contracting power of my lower abdomen and try to empty the bottom of my chest. It will take about thirty seconds for the bad or stale air from the chest to be exhaled. However, the wonder of it is that in one breath, I attain a mental state which is detached from my former state and circumstance.

After exhaling all of my air, I relax my lower abdomen. Due to atmospheric pressure, air naturally enters my nose; I inhale naturally until the air fills the area from my chest to my abdomen. After I finish inhaling, I pause for a very brief moment. With my lower abdomen extended slightly forward (while contracting the anus), I gently push my breath into my lower abdomen and squeeze it slightly there with a scooping feeling. At this point in the breathing cycle it is very important not to use a lot of force or to strain oneself. The key point is to keep the anus closed. Then before it becomes uncomfortable, I begin to exhale the air in the manner described earlier.

If we repeat this type of breathing four to ten times, besides completely freeing ourselves from our attachment to our surroundings, we will fee warm even in the winter for such a way of breathing improves blood circulation. Not only that, it is a good way to enter the samadhi condition.

When this type of deep breathing has ended, we should close our mouth, breathe through our nose and use our diaphragm and stomach pressure to do lower abdominal breathing [i.e. begin the more refined breathing used in zazen].


~ Meido
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