Great Fool

Ryokan Taigu

Jules shares his buddhist name, Taigu (Japanese for Great Fool), with Ryokan, the wandering zen monk and poet who lived in Japan from 1758 to 1831. Like to his famous namesake Pure Land Buddhism is close to his heart. As a form of buddhist practice saying the nembutsu (“Namu Amida Butsu”, “I take refuge with Amida Buddha”), an expression of true entrusting, is as valuable to Jules as as zazen is.

Below are three brief poems by Ryokan Taigu:

1. Keepsake of this world

If not for Amida’s inconceivable vow
What then would remain to me
As a keepsake of this world?

2. Amida Buddha’s vow

What joy to know that
Just because I am a hopeless soul
I’ve found Amida Buddha’s vow!

3. Ryokan’s final verse

Afterward, if someone should ask:
“Did Ryokan leave a final verse?”
Just say: “Namu Amida Butsu!”

Source: Ryuichi Abé & Peter Haskel, Great Fool. Zen Master Ryokan. Poems, Letters, and Other Writings (1996), pp. 207-208.

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