Hakuin Ekaku

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Hakuin Ekaku (白隠 慧鶴 Hakuin Ekaku; 16861769) was one of the most influential figures in Japanese Zen Buddhism. He transformed the Rinzai school from a declining tradition that lacked rigorous practice into a tradition that focused on arduous meditation and koan practice. Essentially all modern practitioners of Rinzai Zen use practices directly derived from the teachings of Hakuin.


  • You know the sound of two hands clapping; tell me, what is the sound of one hand?
    • As quoted in Wild Ivy: The Spiritual Autobiography of Zen Master Hakuin trans. Norman Waddell (2010) p. 179
  • All beings are by nature are Buddhas, as ice by nature is water. Apart from water there is no ice; apart from beings, no Buddhas. How sad that people ignore the near and search the truth afar: like someone in the midst of watercrying out in thirst: like a child of a wealthy home wandering among the poor.
    • As quoted in Teachings of the Buddha p.207
  • Should you desire the great tranquility prepare to sweat white beads.
    • As quoted in Zen and the Art of Poker: Timeless Secrets to Transform Your Game by Larry W. Phillips
  • If you forget yourself, you become the universe.
    • As quoted in The Awakening Artist: Madness and Spiritual Awakening in Art by Patrick Howe

About Hakuin Ekaku[edit]

  • A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near Hakuin. One day, without any warning, her parents discovered she was pregnant. This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.
In great anger the parents went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.
After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the child needed.
A year later the girl could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market.
The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.
Hakuin willingly yielded the child, saying only: "Is that so?"

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