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Ikkyu Sojun

Ikkyu (一休宗純 Ikkyū Sōjun) (13941481) 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 has been thought as one of the influential figures in establishing the Japanese tea ceremony as a master of Murata Jukō , and esteemed as such, but their historical interaction is now in question.


  • South of Mount Sumeru
    Who understands my Zen?
    Call Master Kido over-
    He's not worth a cent.
    • Lucien Stryk. Encounter with Zen: writings on poetry and Zen, 1981. p. 66.
  • 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.


  • Having no destination, I am never lost.
    • Attributed to Ikkyu in Nine-headed Dragon River : Zen journals, 1969-1985 (1986) by Peter Matthiessen

Quotes about Ikkyu[edit]

  • Ikkyū Zenji is the most remarkable monk in the history of Japanese Buddhism, the only Japanese comparable to the great Chinese Zen masters.
  • His "mad" behavior was perhaps his way of disrupting the corrupt and feeble Zen he saw around him.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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