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Ryokan (1758?-1831)

"......Monks are not thought of very highly in Omaha, or in any other part of America. In the words of the Catholic monk Thomas Merton, "In a materialistic culture which is fundamentally irreligious, the monk is incomprehensible because he ‘produces nothing.’ His life appears to be completely useless."......"

Ryokan (1758?-1831)

At first it seemed strange to me that Ryokan would be the featured poet during Christian Holy Week with so many great Christian mystical poets to choose from.  But then i imagined Ryokan, disguised perhaps  as one of the Marys, sneaking into the Easter pageant and getting something from and giving something to the experience.  Just because  one is not  a  Christian does not mean that Easter must be meaningless, just that the meanind will be a little or a lot different than for most Christians.  Because Easter is joyous and featires children screaming after colored eggs,  Ryokan would be right at home.

I say that Ryokan is not one of my favorite poets; perhaps i have too far to travel/trek/drift on my spiritual journey to fully appreciate him now, but he is one my favorite people.  Ryokan was nearly the perfect Buddhist (and nearly the perfect Christian) in that he gave himself over fully to the "true path (the Perennial Philosophy)" and was thus a total fool in the eyes  of the world.

I am sorry that the Omaha monk who authored the above tribute had nothing to say about Tieshin, the young nun who was Ryokan's follower, companion, caretaker, and lover.  I know that whenever two humans are called lovers we make all  kinds of  assumptions that we do not usually make if one party  is a God or an animal.  I do not know  whether Ryokan and Tieshin had a sexual relationship.  I would be very surprised but not al all horrified to learn that they did. (Ryokan's spirirtual freedom was, after all, total.)  They were lovers in the sense that we all should be lovers of one another, compassionate, respectful, giving, caring, sharing.  They brought joy to each other's lives.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 5th, 2015 01:19 pm (UTC)
This is the Year of Consecrated Life.
Let's hope it is fruitful.
Apr. 5th, 2015 03:07 pm (UTC)
Apr. 5th, 2015 03:28 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't surprise me a bit if they had sexual relationship too. At least they were adults.
Apr. 5th, 2015 09:59 pm (UTC)
Teishin (i keep misspelling her name) was (about) 40 years younger than Ryokan. They met (briefly) when she was 28, So he must have been about 68. He had only five more years to live and he may have been quite ill much of that time. And she was a nun and he was a hermit. The possibilities of unskillful thought, intent, and action are taken quite seriously in Buddhism, even by "fools" and totally liberated people. Of course people don't always walk the walk they talk about walking. :)
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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