Japan (1686 - 1768) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan
Poems by Hakuin
Books - Links
When he was seven years old, Hakuin heard the reciting of a Buddhist sutra that described the terrors of hell. This so frightened the boy that he resolved to become a monk, in order to avoid such torments.
Though his parents opposed his decision, Hakuin took monastic vows at the age of 15.
He studied the Buddhist scriptures intensely, but was deeply shaken by reading of the painful death of a famous Chinese Chan master. The young Hakuin lost his faith in the Buddhist path for a while, hiding himself in the study of literature.
But, at the age of 22, he had his first experience of satori or enlightenment when he heard a sentence from a Buddhist scripture being recited.
After that, he dedicated himself wholeheartedly to the full realization of Nirvana, unshakable peace.
At this time, Zen Buddhism had become the court religion and, in its preeminence, lost much its inner spiritual vitality. Hakuin is credited with saving the tradition from its decline virtually single-handedly, returning Zen to its rich spiritual essence.
He organized koan training (authoring the famous koan, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?") and re-emphasized the zazen practice of sitting meditation.
Hakuin's reforms were highly effective, as seen by the profound impact Zen has in the world of spiritual practice today.
Poems by Hakuin
- Hakuin's Song of Zazen
- Past, present, future: unattainable
- The monkey is reaching
- You no sooner attain the great void
- The Form of the Formless (from Hakuin's Song of Zazen)
A good extended biography of Hakuin.
The Zen Teachings of Hakuin
Several recorded talks given by Hakuin on Zen practice.
Theosophy Library Online - Great Teacher Series - HAKUIN
An article on Hakuin from a Theosophical perspective.
Hakuin Ekaku (1685 -1768)
A nice site with links to many of Hakuin's writings online and several beautiful Zen portraits.