[Buddha-l] Nishida quote

JKirkpatrick jkirk at spro.net
Tue Jun 14 11:25:36 MDT 2011

" But who give's a rat's haunches what I say."

We denizens do--otherwise we'd not stick around, eh wot? 


Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 8:17 AM

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

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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