22. My Heart Burns Like Fire
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
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
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.
23. Eshun’s Departure
When Eshun, the Zennun, was past sixty and about to leave the world,
she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.
Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it
set fire around the edges. ‘O nun!’ shouted the monk, ‘is it hot in
‘Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,’
answered Eshun. The flames arose, and she passed away.
24. Reciting Sutras
A farmer requested a Tendai priest to recite sutras for his wife,
who had died. After the recitation was over the farmer asked: ‘Do
you think my wife will gain merit from this?’
'Not only your wife but all sentient beings will benefit from the
recitation of sutras,' answered the priest.
‘If you say all sentient beings will benefit,' said the farmer, 'my
wife may be very weak and others will take advantage of her, getting
the benefit she should have. So please recite sutras just for her.'
The priest explained that it was the desire of a Buddhist to offer
blessings and wish merit for every living being. That is a fine
teaching,' concluded the farmer, 'but please make one exception. I
have a neighbor who is rough and mean
to me. Just exclude him from all those sentient beings.'