Daily Zen Library

1984

Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei

Translated by Normal Waddell Norman Waddell

View this book on Amazon »

In 1633, at age eleven, Bankei Yotaku was banished from his family's home because of his consuming engagement with the Confucian texts that all schoolboys were required to copy and recite. Using a hut in the nearby hills, he wrote the word Shugyo-an, or "practice hermitage," on a plank of wood, propped it up beside the entrance, and settled down to devote himself to his own clarification of "bright virtue."

He finally turned to Zen and, after fourteen years of incredible hardship, achieved a decisive enlightenment, whereupon the Rinzai priest traveled unceasingly to the temples and monasteries of Japan, sharing what he'd learned.

"What I teach in these talks of mine is the Unborn Buddha-mind of illuminative wisdom, nothing else. Everyone is endowed with this Buddha-mind, only they don't know it." Casting aside the traditional aristocratic style of his contemporaries, he offered his teachings in the common language of the people. His style recalls the genius and simplicity of the great Chinese Zen masters of the T'ang dynasty

Related Journal Entries

The Unborn

Butchi Bankei (1622-1693) I was still a young man when I came to discover the principle of the Unborn and its relation to thought. I began to tell others about it. What we call a "thought" is... View Journal Entry »

The Ryumon-ji Sermons

Bankei (1622-1693) You often hear religious people talking about samsara, or living and dying, being the same as nirvana. But when they speak about it they do so from the standpoint of... View Journal Entry »

The Unborn

Bankei (1622-1693)  You’re probably all wondering what this unborn Buddha-mind is like. The Buddha-mind, unborn and illuminating all things with perfect clarity, is like a mirror,... View Journal Entry »

The Threefold Question in Zen

Daisetz T. Suzuki  (1870-1966) The question, "What is Zen?" is at once easy and difficult to answer. It is easy because there is nothing that is not Zen. I lift my finger thus, and there... View Journal Entry »