History Girls











Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto
are two of the primary kami found in ancient Shinto mythology. The divine siblings are the deities of the terrestrial creation myth, whereby the lands and all the creatures that inhabit them came into being. Specifically, they are honored as the originators of the islands of Japan.

While they star in the same creation story and both play essential parts in the generation of beings, they also have different roles and responsibilities. The myth focuses on the things they create together, but it also allows each of the kami to have an individual role in the mythology.

The primordial deities in the sky who preceded the pair in existence ordered Izanagi and Izanami to go down to earth to make something useful of the vast terrestrial realm. But at that time there was still nothing down there to sustain them or even provide a platform for their creative mission. While standing on the floating bridge of heaven, the pair looked down upon the face of the earth and pondered whether or not a potential country was beneath them. Higher still above them, the primordial deities realized that there actually was no place for their emissaries to land, so they cast down to them a magnificent jeweled spear.

Izanagi thrust the jewel-spear of heaven down into the ocean and stirred. With a “curdle-curdle” sound, he stirred up the brine of the ocean, and when he lifted the spear the brine coagulated and dripped off. It soon hardened and formed the island of Onogoro (“spontaneously-congealing”) island in Japan. This mythical island, supposedly located somewhere off the northeastern coast of today’s Shikoku, became Izanagi’s and Izanami’s home.

Read More http://jedijack-his-story.blogspot.com/2010/06/izanagi-and-izanami-creators-of-japan.html



22. My Heart Burns Like Fire


    Image source

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: “My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes.” He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.


In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.


Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.


Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.


Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.


When an opportunity comes do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.


Do not regret the past. Look to the future.


Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.


Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.

Read more: Bukisa.com



A famous quatrain from the T’ang Dynasty contains some of the main doctrines of Ch’an (the meditation school of Chinese buddhism) :

A special tradition outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Directly pointing at the human heart;
Seeing into one’s own nature and achieving Buddhahood.

Historically read, the first line simply attests to Ch’an beliefs on how their School was started, but doctrinally it indicates Ch’an views on how enlightenment is transmitted. It is held that one day the Buddha, without saying a word, held up a lotus flower before a gathering. Only one man, Mahakasyapa, understood, and smiled: he had received the truth of enlightenment, directly transmitted from mind to mind without recourse to speech or scriptures.

Enlightenment is held to be transmitted in this way, without “words and letters” (second line), because we cannot separate ourselves from, in other words objectify, reality, in order to make objective, factual statements about it. Indeed, to believe that any of the names and categories we apply to reality, really describe or exhaust the nature of reality, is the very essence of ignorance.

Reality is therefore said to be “empty” or “void” (Skt. sunya; Ch. kung) of the qualities we project upon it. Thus if reality cannot be discussed in words, it can only be “directly pointed” at, for example in “the human heart” (third line). This is done with the intent and hope that, in the absence of conceptualisation, one will see reality, “one’s own nature”, as it really is, thus “achieving Buddhahood” (fourth line).

However, this achievement is also, paradoxically, no achievement, because enlightenment itself involves transcending the opposition or dualism between enlightenment and ignorance, which is but one more conceptualisation. All things, including enlightenment, ignorance, Nirvana, and samsara, are seen as equally empty, and equally a part of the universal Buddha-nature or One Mind.

Thus we find in Ch’an a return to, and celebration of, the previously prosaic world, and the manifestation of enlightenment in the everyday, in just, as one Ch’an master said, “carrying water and chopping wood”.

Source:  ucsm.ac.uk 
Image Source



21. The Sound of One Hand




The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protege named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master’s room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidance in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering. Toyo wished to do sanzen also.

“Wait a while,” said Mokurai. “You are too young.”

But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented. In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai’s sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.

“You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together,” said Mokurai. “Now show me the sound of one hand.”

Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. “Ah, I have it!” he proclaimed. The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

“No, no,” said Mokurai. “That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You’ve not got it at all.”

Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. What can the sound of one hand be?” He happened to hear some water dripping. “I have it,” imagined Toyo. When he next appeared before his teacher, Toyo imitated dripping water.

“What is that?” asked Mokurai. “That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again.”

In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected. He heard the cry of an owl. This also was refused. The sound of one hand was not the locusts. For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong.

For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be. At last little Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. “I could collect no more,” he explained later, “so I reached the soundless sound.”

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

Read more: Bukisa.com
Image: Desktop Nexus  



Bernard Gui was Inquisitor in Toulousel 1307-1323. The medieval inquisition had been created during the reign of Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241). Its main technique was to extract confessions. Bernard describes the techniques used in interrogations.

When a heretic is first brought up for examination, he assumes a confident air, as though secure in his innocence. I ask him why he has been brought before me. He replies, smiling and courteous, “Sir, I would be glad to learn the cause from you.”

I You are accused as a heretic, and that you believe and teach otherwise than Holy Church believes.

A. (Raising his eyes to heaven, with an air of the greatest faith) Lord, thou knowest that I am innocent of this, and that I never held any faith other than that of true Christianity.

I You call your faith Christian, for you consider ours as false and heretical. But I ask whether you have ever believed as true another faith than that which the Roman Church holds to be true?

A. I believe the true faith which the Roman Church believes, and which you openly preach to us.

I Perhaps you have some of your sect at Rome whom you call the Roman Church. I, when I preach, say many things, some of which are common to us both, as that God liveth, and you believe some of what I preach. Nevertheless you may be a heretic in not believing other matters which are to be believed.

A. I believe all things that a Christian should believe.

I I know your tricks. What the members of your sect believe you hold to be that which a Christian should believe. But we waste time in this fencing. Say simply, Do you believe in one God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost?

A. I believe.

L Do you believe in Christ born of the Virgin, suffered, risen, and ascended to heaven?

A. (Briskly) I believe.

I Do you believe the bread and wine in the mass performed by the priests to be changed into the body and blood of Christ by divine virtue?

A. Ought I not to believe this?

I I don’t ask if you ought to believe, but if you do believe.

A. I believe whatever you and other good doctors order me to believe.

I Those good doctors are the masters of your sect; if I accord with them you believe with me; if not, not.

A I willingly believe with you if you teach what is good to me.

I. You consider it good to you if I teach what your other masters teach. Say, then, do you believe the body of our Lord,lesus Christ to be in the altar?

A. (Promptly) I believe that a body is there, and that all bodies are of our Lord.

I I ask whether the body there is of the Lord who was born of the Virgin, hung on the cross, arose from the dead, ascended, etc.

A. And you, sir, do you not believe it?

L I believe it wholly.

A. I believe likewise.

L You believe that I believe it, which is not what I ask, but whether you believe it.

A. If you wish to interpret all that I say otherwise than simply and plainly, then I don’t know what to say. I am a simple and ignorant man. Pray don’t catch me in my words.

I. If you are simple, answer simply, without evasions.

A. Willingly.

I Will you then swear that you have never learned anything contrary to the faith which we hold to be true?

A. (Growing pale) If I ought to swear, I will willingly swear.

I I don’t ask whether you ought, but whether you will swear.

A. If you order me to swear, I will swear.

I I don’t force you to swear, because as you believe oaths to be unlawful, you will transfer the sin to me who forced you; but if you will swear, I will hear it.

A. Why should I swear if you do not order me to?

I So that you may remove the suspicion of being a heretic.

A. Sir, I do not know how unless you teach me.

. I. If I had to swear, I would raise my hand and spread my fingers and say, “So help me God, I have never learned heresy or believed what is contrary to the true faith.”

Then trembling as if he cannot repeat the form, he will stumble along as though speaking for himself or for another, so that there is not an absolute form of oath and yet he may be thought to have sworn. If the words are there, they are so turned around that he does not swear and yet appears to have sworn.

Or he converts the oath into a form of prayer, as “God help me that I am not a heretic or the like”; and when asked whether he had sworn, he will say: “Did you not hear me swear?” [And when further hard pressed he will appeal, saying] “Sir, if I have done amiss in aught, I will willingly bear the penance, only help me to avoid the infamy of which I am accused though malice and without fault of mine.”

But a vigorous inquisitor must not allow himself to be worked upon in this way, but proceed firmly till he make these people confess their error, or at least publicly abjure heresy, so that if they are subsequently found to have sworn falsely, he can without further hearing, abandon them to the secular arm”.

Source: The Medieval Sourcebook



17. Stingy in Teaching

A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

“I cannot tell you what it is,” the friend replied, “but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die.”

“That’s fine,” said Kusuda. “I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?”

“Go to the master Nan-in,” the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die. When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: “Hello, friend. How are you? We haven’t seen each other for a long time!”

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: “We have never met before.”

“That’s right,” answered Nan-in. “I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here.”

With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.

Nan-in said: “Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat your patients with kindness. That is Zen.”

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. “A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of your patients.”

It was not clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on the forth visit he complained: “My friend told me that when one learns Zen one loses his fear of death. Each time I come here you tell me to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you anymore.”

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. “I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan.” He presented Kusuda with Joshu’s Mu to work over, which is the first mind-enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: “You are not in yet.”

Kusuda continued in concentration for another yet and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern of life and death.

Then he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

Read more: bukisa.com



{May 8, 2010}   Native American Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.

Source: sapphyr.net



et cetera