Ikkyu (一休宗純 Ikkyū Sōjun) (1394–1481) was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist priest, poet and calligrapher. He was born as an illegitimate son of Emperor Go-Komatsu and was forced to become a priest in his childhood. He was one of the influential figures in establishing the Japanese tea ceremony.
- Natural, reckless, correct skill;
Yesterday's clarity is today's stupidity
The universe has dark and light, entrust oneself to change
One time, shade the eyes and gaze afar at the road of heaven.
- As quoted in Ikkyū and The Crazy Cloud Anthology : A Zen Poet of Medieval Japan (1986) by Sonja Arntzen.
- Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.
- "A Fisherman" in Wild Ways : Zen Poems (2003), edited and translated by John Stevens, p. 37.
- From the world of passions returning to the world of passions:
There is a moment's pause.
If it rains, let it rain, if the wind blows, let it blow.
- As quoted in The Essence of Zen : Zen Buddhism for Every Day and Every Moment (2002) by Mark Levon Byrne, p. 28.
- It has the original mouth but remains wordless;
It is surrounded by a magnificent mound of hair.
Sentient beings can get completely lost in it
But it is also the birthplace of all the Buddhas of the ten thousand worlds.
- "A Woman's Sex" in Wild Ways : Zen Poems (2003), edited and translated by John Stevens, p. 74.
- Eight inches strong, it is my favourite thing;
If I'm alone at night, I embrace it fully -
A beautiful woman hasn't touched it for ages.
Within my fundoshi there is an entire universe!
- "A Man's Root" as quoted in Mishima's Sword : Travels in Search of a Samurai Legend (2007) by Christopher Ross, p. 195.
- In all the kingdom southward
From the center of the earth
Where is he who understands my Zen?
Should the master Kido himself appear
He wouldn't be worth a worn-out cent.
- Japanese Death Poems. Compiled by Yoel Hoffmann. ISBN 978-0-8048-3179-6
Quotes about Ikkyu
- Ikkyū Zenji is the most remarkable monk in the history of Japanese Buddhism, the only Japanese comparable to the great Chinese Zen masters.
- Reginald Horace Blyth, Zen and Zen Classics : Twenty-five Zen Essays (1970).
- His "mad" behavior was perhaps his way of disrupting the corrupt and feeble Zen he saw around him.
- Peter Matthiessen, Nine-headed Dragon River : Zen journals, 1969-1985 (1986).