[Buddha-l] Nishida quote

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue Jun 14 08:16:33 MDT 2011

Dear denizens,

Last week I made reference to a quote from a letter of Nishida Kitarō that John Maraldo had read at this year's seminar in Buddhism at Bodhi Manda Zen Center in Jémez Springs, NM. Stuart Lachs asked about it. I asked John Maraldo if he could give me a reference. He cannot, because he cannot recall from where he literally cut the clipping (in the days before computers). He did, however, hand me the clipping. Here it is.

A letter from Nishida to an unknown recipient (perhaps D.T. Suzuki)
Forgive me for discussing such personal matters, but I think it is useless at present to visit Rōshi and am now concentrating solely on mu kōan. Perhaps if I concetrate enough in my everyday life, I shall reach some enlightenment. What good is it if Rōshi considers that I have passed a kōan, if I myself am dissatisfied? There are Zen scholars who pass one kōan after another, thereby achieving seniority status. I am not, however, impressed with their behavior or with what they say. What is your opinion?

In another letter he mentions having an interview with Setsumon Rōshi, who was satisfied that he had passed the kōan mu, about which Nishida the says "It does not delight me at all."

When asked about Nishida's dissatisfaction with passing the kōan and his disappointment that his kenshō was "not earth-shattering", D.T. Suziki wrote: "Yes, that can happen to a man like Nishida, who has an intellectual and logical mind."

Thank heavens for intellectual and logical minds, say I! But who give's a rat's haunches what I say.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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