Motion and Emotion in Medieval Japanese Buddhism*
By Steven Heine

Journal of Chinese Philosophy
V. 25 (1998)
pp. 191-208

Copyright 1998 by Dialogue Publishing Company

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The Link between Motion and Emotion

    This paper analyzes the understanding of the emotions in medieval Japanese Buddhism by dealing with the relation between three main realms. These include: (1) religion, in this case Buddhism, which generally teaches that emotions are a product of ignorance and attachment that must be negated and detached from in order to attain enlightenment; (2) literature, in this case Heian/Kamakura era poetry, which was often composed either by Buddhist masters or by literati greatly influenced by Buddhist meditative disciplines, expressing a refined and edifying emotional sensitivity to the experiences of sorrow, loss or decay that reflect the fundamental reality of impermanence (mujo); and (3) the emotions themselves, which are complex subjective responses to ephemeral external phenomena defying easy categorization as either positive or negative, productive or counter-productive, or worthy of cultivation or in need of transcendence. I will demonstrate that in Japanese thought, rather than there being a one-sided emphasis on emotions as a negative force of attachment to be repudiated and overcome, literature often serves as a bridge whereby the emotions, transformed in the sense of responding to impermanence in a positive, edifying way, are linked directly to the realization of Buddhist enlightenment.

    The interconnection between the factors of religion, literature and emotions is illustrated in the following table:




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    A key to interpreting the underlying connection linking the three realms is to focus on how transcendental emotions based on an authentic acceptance of impermanence are associated with motion or movement, including stillness as the absence of movement reflecting feelings that are spiritually purified. As the etymology of the English word (deriving from the French, emouvoir, "to stir up")[1] suggests, emotions, stemming from a sense of being moved as indicated by the expression that "I was moved by . . . [a particular experience]," are often reflected or symbolized by physical movement These can involve gestures and body language ranging from nervous fidgeting to calm composure, or from passive restraint to dynamic activity. Whereas this sense of the term implies that the movement connected with emotions takes place in the human body, in medieval Japanese Buddhism--especially as expressed in a variety of literary and visual arts--there is also a commitment to the holistic philosophical view that movement in the natural world is a mirror reflection of human feelings. So natural motions, particularly those associated with the turning of the daily and seasonal cycles (such as the opening of a spring blossom, the falling of autumn leaves or the flight of a bird past the setting sun) are intimately connected with the feelings they inspire, whether joy or sadness, exhilaration or melancholy. This is not so much a cause-and-effect relation as one of mirroring or mutual reflection.

    Because Buddhism associates some emotions with psychic disturbances created by a form of attachment, illusion, defilement or ignorance, there often is a sense that the antithesis of motion necessarily represents the opposite condition. Therefore stillness, absence of movement, stasis or quietude will indicate the presence of detachment, wisdom or enlightenment, which occurs when disturbing motions/emotions are put to rest. The stillness of enlightenment in




nature and humans is symbolized, for example, by the famous painting of Myoe meditating while sitting in the limbs of an unwavering tree. Poetic lines similarly celebrate the pine and bamboo that remain impassive despite severe winter storms. So also Fujiwara Teika's instructions for writing poetry were influenced by the Tendai shikan ("cessation-contemplation") practice, insisting that poetic composition requires a stable, seated meditative posture. Even the facial images and body language of the iconography of the Five Hundred Rakan (in Sanskrit, arhat) or immovable Daruma (Bodhidharma) images suggest this basic presupposition. However, the connection between stillness and enlightenment does not necessarily mean that the converse is invariably the case, that is, that all forms of movement or motion represent the disturbance of unenlightenment that must be quieted and stilled. On the contrary, the emotions of contemplative awareness or literary/aesthetic attunement to the transient nature of reality may well be reflected in the motions and gestures of the human body as well as the movement of the natural world. Some examples of natural movement symbolizing transcendental emotions include the image of evaporating dew or billowing sleeves as an acceptance of loss, and the lyrical metaphor in Zen poetry of satori or the casting off of illusions referring to feeling like the branches of a tree being swayed by the breeze or the scattering of spring blossoms. Other images include the conception of geomantic forces linking a network of mountain temples which funnel spiritual energy into the sacred sites, and the shapechanging of magical animals signifying transitional and liminal states of mind or the crossing from illusion to reality.[2] So it can be seen that the movable is valuable in signaling an experience of awakening.

    There are at the same time examples of the immovable as an unworthy image. A key example of a critique of the motionless is found in a famous waka (Japanese verse in thirty-one syllables) by Saigyo that expresses ecstatic torment at being unable to avoid feeling uplifted while beholding a melancholic image of natural beauty that surpasses the subdued heart or detachment (kokoro naki, literally "without heart or emotions") of a Buddhist priest:[3]

Kokoro naki                                               A heart subdued,
Mi ni mo aware wa                                     Yet poignant sadness
Shirarekeri                                                  Is so deeply felt:
Shigi tatsu sawa no                                     A snipe flies over the marsh




Aki no yugure.                                            As autumn dusk descends.

Despite the priest's better judgment he cannot escape feeling sadness (aware), a response that both detracts from and enriches his spiritual state. Also Rinzai Zen master Muso expresses a different sort of ambivalence about motion and motionlessness. In the following kanshi (poetry written by Japanese authors in Chinese or kanbun) verse, Muso seems to regret that his Buddhist mind is not content simply to watch the changing seasons because it insists on turning the natural setting into a metaphysical riddle or koan:[4]

Autumn's colors dropping from branches in masses of failing leaves.
Cold clouds bringing rain into the crannies of the mountains:
Everyone was born with the same sort of eyes -
Why do mine keep seeing things as Zen koan?

These examples indicate that literature provides a link between Buddhism and the role of emotions, at once allowing for the expression of and helping to overcome a creative tension between these realms. They also show that it is important to distinguish between two kinds of literature: verse written by literary figures like Saigyo, who is primarily a writer but also a priest whose comprehension of Buddhism informs his poetry; and verse by Muso, who is primarily a Zen Buddhist master disclosing his enlightenment in literary form. On the other hand, the distinction between literary Buddhism and Buddhist literature is not necessarily a hard and fast polarity. Rather, the two forms of expression converge in their uses of seasonal, cyclical, and other natural imagery to convey the role of edifying emotions.


Stillness of Enlightenment

    In the following waka verse, Zen Buddhist poetry expresses the stillness of enlightenment through the image of the motionless scarecrow, which lacks any facial expression and yet by virtue of this feature it is eminently functional:[5]

Gyoju zaga                                          Everyday life [walking, standing sitting sleeping]




Mamoru tome                                     Not seeming to protect
Oboezu nagara                                    The paddy field,
Oyamada no                                       Scarecrow standing
Itazuranaran                                        On the hillside -
Kagashi nari keri.                                By no means useless.

Another Zen verse uses the image of a small boat drifting in the light of the midnight moon, which simultaneously suggests an aesthetic state of solitude, the doctrine of the casting off of illusions, and aloofness during a taxing journey:[6]

Shobogenzo                                        Treasury of the true Dharma-eye

Nami mo hiki                                       In the heart of the night,
Kaze mo tsunaganu                              The moonlight framing
Sute obune                                          A small boat drifting;
Tsuki koso yawa no                             Tossed not by the waves
Sakai nari keri.                                     Nor swayed by the breeze.

The phrase sute obune (literally "boat that has been cast out") conventionally signifies loneliness or alienation in an impersonal world, but is transformed here into a symbol of the strength, detachment and dedication in enlightenment. The "drifting boat" is not at the mercy of the elements, but appears thoroughly undisturbed by the "waves" (symbolizing objects of attachment) and the "breeze" (ignorance and desire). Because the verb suteru ("to be cast out" or "to renounce") frequently is used interchangeably with datsuraku (literally "letting go of'), the expression sute obune may be interpreted as representing the doctrine of the casting off of body-mind (shinjin datsuraku).

    The image of illumination by the moon has connotations borrowed from the poetic tradition, representing an object of longing and the source of comfort in times of turmoil and grief. Simultaneously it involves Buddhist implications as the symbol of the universal manifestations of the compassion and wisdom of the Buddha-nature. The moon deepens the meaning of the resolute detachment of the casting off of the boat. The boat is cut off from the harbor, as perhaps the wanderer felt during his trip. But because the boat falls within the pervasiveness of the moon's glow it is not lost but is protected by the compassionate Buddha-nature. Yet, in contrast to the moon, the boat is not totally aloof from the world of




variability; it remains involved, at once aimless in its solitude and purposeful in its disciplined response to change. The single phenomenon of the drifting boat shares the overview and illuminative remoteness of the moonlight while partaking of the world into which it has been cast out, having learned perpetually to cast off.

    While the previous poems use the motionless images of the lifeless scarecrow and inanimate boat, the next verse highlights the timeless moment of blossoming. This image would appear to epitomize movement, but here it represents stillness by virtue of the repetitiveness of the cycle of fertility that creates a sense of the "eternal now":[7]

Nehan myoshin                                         Wondrous nirvana-mind

Itsumo tada                                               Because the flowers blooming
Waga furusato no                                      In our original home
Hana nareba                                             Are everlasting,
Iro mo kawaranu                                      Though springtimes may come and go
Sugishi haru kana.                                     Their colors do not fade.

Furthermore, a kanshi verse emphasizes the impassive and impervious response of the pines and bamboos to the winter elements which are swayed yet remain unshaken:[8]

Snow is falling far and wide,
Each snowflake neither the very same nor completely different than the other ones;
Singing and dancing, they chase after each other,
Till the whole universe is made afresh with its new covering,
As the snow even conceals the moon and clouds,
And puts out the flame in our hearth;
All kinds of leaves and flowers respond differently to the cycles of the seasons,
Yet remain oblivious to the cold of night or the chill of winter--
So goes the preaching of the Dharma
By the pines in the valleys and the bamboos on the mountains.

Finally, another kanshi verse--accompanying one of two famous portraits of thirteenth-century Zen master Dogen--uses an intricate wordplay involving the term "real" to make a statement about the power of motionlessness:




If you take this portrait of me to be real,
That what am I, really?
But why hang it there,
If not to anticipate people getting to know me?
Looking at this portrait,
Can you say that what is dangling in the air
Is really my body -
In that case your whole mind will never be
United with the wall [as in Bodhidharma's wall-gazing meditation cave].

The last line alludes to the first patriarch's practice of zazen while gazing at the wall of a cave for nine years. There is a delightful, self-deprecatory irony in this verse, given the important ritual role portraits play in Zen monastic life as objects of veneration. This veneration is heightened in posthumous ceremonial occasions where the portraits substitute for a deceased master, a convention Dogen obviously questions if not necessarily rejects.


Transcendental Motions/Emotions

    At the same time, Buddhist poetry frequently emphasizes the role of natural movement as an indicator of enlightenment that is not confined to the experience of stillness. For example, the image of the dew (tsuyu, literally "dewdrops," also suggesting "tears") in the following Zen waka has important implications concerning the flux of time in both the Buddhist and poetic traditions, like the moon in a waka cited previously. In the same way dew shows the connection between motions and emotions in a positive sense, pointing to transcendental awareness. In evoking tears the word tsuyu suggests the inseparability of feelings and insight, or the essential connection between sadness and awakening, and also represents the illusory status of the "floating world." Like dreams, mirages, and bubbles, dew is a symbol of the relativity of illusion and truth based on the nonsubstantive or radically impermanent ground of existence:[9]

Asahi matsu                                             Dewdrops on a blade of grass,
Kusaba no tsuyu no                                  Having so little time
Hodonaki ni                                              Before the sun rises;
Isogina tachi so                                         Let not the autumn wind
Nobe no akikaze.                                     Blow so quickly on the field.




    Here the dew epitomizes the fleeting quality of all things as manifestations of the universal structure of life-death and arising- desistance. The aim in expressing a metaphysical understanding of impermanence is to sustain an implicit moral message. The poet chides the wind for causing the evaporation of the dew in order to counsel disciples to neither resist nor waste time that flows at an ever-quickening pace. People, who are subject to the same laws that govern the dew, must seize the opportunity to take advantage of the fleeting but complete here-and-now moments that recur in the inevitable movement from life to death. Moral practice and metaphysical insight are based on an aesthetic sensitivity to and sympathy with the precariousness and vulnerability of natural phenomena. The Zen waka recalls Chomei's introduction to the Hojoki: "Which will be the first to go, the master or his dwelling? One might just as well ask this of the dew on the morning glory. The dew may fall and the flower remain - remain, only to be withered by the morning sun. The flower may fade before the dew evaporates but though it does not evaporate, it waits not the evening."[10] It is the emotional identification with the plight of evanescent things, and consequent feelings of anguish and outrage, that awakens the need for release from suffering. Enlightenment is attained as empathetic grief is transformed into a realization of the nonsubstantive basis of existence. As Kenko writes, "If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty."[11]

    There are numerous examples of Zen verses that express an aesthetic attunement to the forms of nature as compatible with or even essential for religious truth. The following waka on an early autumn snowfall is notable not so much as elegant poetry (the imagery seems derivative), but as a direct statement of the spiritual importance of emotion and intuition:[12]

Nagazuki no                                                  Crimson leaves
Momiji no ue ni                                              Whitened by the season's first snow--
Yuki furinu                                                     Is there anyone
Minhito tareka                                                Who would not be moved
Uta o yomazaran.                                           To celebrate this in song?

Here the striking beauty of contrasting and interspersed hues




highlighting the transition of seasons inspires a moment of poetic rapture. The waka reveals a convergence of individual sentiment with the arising of a universal aesthetic perception. It recalls the opening lines of Ki no Tsurayuki's famous preface to the Kokinshu which remain the essential statement of Japanese literary criticism:[13]

The poetry of Japan takes hold in the heart of humans and springs forth in the innumerable petals of words. Because of humans' intense involvement in the world, it is poetry that expresses the inner feeling of his heart upon viewing the sights of the world and hearing its sounds. To hear a nightingale singing amidst the blossoms or a frog croaking in the water - is there anyone alive who would not be moved to celebrate this in song?

Another waka by Dogen similarly stresses the role of grief in response to natural change as a source of religious aspiration:[14]

Kokoro naki                                                  Even plants and trees,
Kusaki mo kyo wa                                         Which have no heart,
Shibomu nari                                                  Wither with the passing days;
Me ni mitaru hito                                            Beholding this,
Ure-e zarameya.                                            Can anyone help but feel chagrin?

    As all beings are interrelated by virtue of the transiency which invariably undercuts their apparent stability, humans necessarily respond to the demise of plants and trees "which have no heart" (kokoro naki). The latter phrase is used in Court poetry, as in the Saigyo's verse above, to denote a priest with a subdued heart, or one who has conquered any attachment to feelings through meditation. In this case, the phrase carries at least a double message. The plants can be considered to lack an awareness of their plight due to either a subhuman absence of consciousness or a symbolic superhuman transcendence of sorrowful emotions based on an innate acceptance of the natural situation. At the same time, the priest implicitly referred to by the phrase cannot avoid feeling chagrin despite his apparent state of liberation. Or, rather, the aesthetic perception - or the awakening of an aesthetically attuned heart - dislodges even a priest's clinging to the view that perishability is something objective and apart from one's own existence by highlighting its subjective pervasiveness. Therefore, the refined emotion of sorrow is more conducive than strict detachment to exploring the existential depths of





    Dogen's approach to evoking symbolically the ephemeral quality of humans and nature has been compared to the following poem by Fujiwara Teika, an allusive variation of an earlier waka by Tomonori :[15]

Ika ni shite                                                       What reason is there
Shizugokoro naku                                            That these cherry petals fluttering
Chiru hana no                                                   With such unsettled heart
Nodokeki haru no                                            Should symbolize the essential color
Iro to miyu ran.                                                 Of the soft tranquillity of spring?

Though there are differences between Teika, the Court poet, and Dogen, the seeker of the Way, Teika's commitment to composing waka based on a contemplative realization infused "with-mind" resembles Dogen in that both authors penetrate to the most fundamental or primordial level of nature. On the one hand, the two waka are nearly opposite in that Dogen sees plants as devoid of feeling, whereas Teika projects onto the cherry blossoms the all-too-human sense of a restless heart. Yet, each poem points to the intimate connection and empathetic sensitivity of humans in communion with the phenomena of nature, as well as the interrelated feelings of instability and tranquillity or of grief and transcendence. An aesthetic response to forms is essential to the attainment of an authentic subjectivity and a creative, self-illuminating awareness that is immersed in nature beyond the vacillations of personal emotions.

    The complex and potentially productive role emotions play in the process of awakening the authentic mind is indicated by another Zen waka. The poem highlights the underlying connection between a personal attraction to form and color and the development of a spiritual realization of formlessness by focusing on the term medekeri (literally "love" or "attraction") in the final line, iro ni medekeri (literally "attracted to form"). This phrase reinforces the Buddhist emphasis on the role of an emotional attunement to natural beauty. The term medekeri (also pronounced al), which also appears in the famous final sentence of the first paragraph of the Shobogenzo "Genjokoan" fascicle as part of the compound word aijaku ("sadness"), indicates either desirous or compassionate love, depending on the context. Both meanings seem implicit here to play off of the image of the full moon, a symbol in the Buddhist tradition for the universality of Buddha-nature and in Court poetry for longing




and consolation:[16]

Ozora ni                                                     Contemplating the clear moon
Kokoro no tsuki o                                      Reflecting a mind empty as the open sky -
Nagamuru mo                                             Drawn by its beauty,
Yami ni mayoite                                           I lose myself
Iro ni medekeri.                                           In the shadows it casts.

This poem contains other terms highly suggestive from a Buddhist standpoint: iro ("form," the first of the five aggregates comprising human existence, and the objects of desire); ozora (the "open sky," symbolizing emptiness or nonsubstantiality); and mayou (to "lose myself" in the ensnarements of self-imposed ignorance paradoxically identified with enlightenment in Mahayana thought). Through this imagery, the poem asserts a productive interplay between moon and mind, light and dark, and delusion and awakening. To be drawn by the moon for the beauty of its form and color (iro) is self-surpassing because it eventually leads to an understanding that the moonlight as the source of illumination mirrors the enlightened mind free of distractions.

    In responding to the light, however, even a mind originally or potentially clear (ozora) invariably becomes lost (mayou) in the shadows. Yet, just as the shadow is a reflection of the true source, interaction with concealed brightness is also edifying. Consequently, emotions represent both turmoil and the inspiration to awaken from the bondage they cause. The self must continually lose itself in the shadowy world of impermanence to realize itself ultimately as liberated from what is still involved in the unceasing process of continual change. This recalls the doctrine of ippo-gujin ("total exertion of a single dharma") expressed in "Genjokoan," which also uses the moon as a metaphor to disclose the interplay of delusion and enlightenment: "Through the unity of body-mind, forms are seen and voices are heard. Although they are realized intimately, it is not like shadows reflected in a mirror, or the moon in water. When one side is illuminated, the other side is concealed."[17]

    In a similar vein, Teika argues that the creativity of the mind actively involved with time and nature determines the value of poetic composition, so that "mind and words function harmoniously like the right and left wings of a bird."[18] In the following waka Teika examines the role of the mind, "Why blame the moon?/ For whether




gazing on its beauty/ Summons tears,/ Or whether it brings consolation,/ Depends upon the mind alone. "[19] Teika and Dogen concur that the mind can be either mired in deception or rectified and liberated from distraction and vacillation based on the realization of its capacity to overcome its self-imposed attachments. They see the authentic mind arising from a discipline or cultivation of contemplative awareness, which requires the proper physical posture (just-sitting) and scrupulous concentration, culminating in a spontaneous or effortless experience. As indicated in the poems of both authors, the genuine subjectivity of the mind can be understood only in terms of a holistic view of nature symbolized by the moon. It is the experience and description of nature by the authentic subject that seizes and determines the relativity of the illusion and truth of impermanent phenomena.


Beyond Stillness and Movement

    The poems previously cited indicate that stillness and movement are both vehicles for expressing enlightenment. Underlying the polarity is a standpoint beyond the distinction between motion and its absence that is evoked in Kenko's view of a seasonal transition in Tsurezuregusa : "It is not that when spring draws to a close it becomes summer, or that when summer ends the autumn comes: spring itself urges the summer to show itself. . . the leaves fall because the budding from underneath is too powerful to resist.[20] A similar kanshi verse divulges the turning of the seasons that is neither a motion or motionlessness by focusing on the image of plum blossoms; they have a fragrance that symbolizes the emergence of spring at the very end of winter:[21]

Outside my window, plum blossoms,
Just on the verge of unfurling, contain the spring;
The clear moon is held in the cup-like petals
Of the beautiful flower I pick and twirl.

Another example emphasizing the unity of motion and its absence is the following waka that conveys the beauty of a mountain landscape by ironically portraying the monochromatic image of a cold and snowy mountain, Mt. Hakusan in the remote northern province of Echizen (modern-day Fukui):




Waga iho wa                                          The white mountain of Echizen
Koshi no shirayama                                My winter retreat:
Fuyugomori                                            A blanket of clouds
Kori mo yuki mo                                    Covering the frosted peaks
Kumo kakari keri.                                  And snowy slopes.

The successive shades and textures of wintry whiteness are accentuated by the wordplay on shirayama (literally "white mountain," another pronunciation of Mt. Hakusan). Perhaps the Buddhist doctrine of nondifferentiation allowing infinite varieties of distinction is suggested here, as in a Zen saying cited by Zeami that a white heron reflected by the moonlight sits by a silver vase.

    The significance of impermanence for both the Buddhist waka on the shifting of the seasons and the literary tradition is intimately related to the role of emotions and the issue of illusion. Impermanence necessarily elicits a personal response to the change and variability that affects self-identity. The attitude that is generated in the subject concerning the evanescence of the objective world may be based either on sensing transiency in terms of sadness and loss or introspectively reflecting on its significance through contemplation. As the contemplative stance develops, ordinary emotions are surpassed by means of an impersonal and holistic insight into the nonsubstantive structure of reality. Yet contemplation does not negate the emotions altogether, and the relation between these perspectives is variable and complex. The fleeting quality of impermanence also leads to a concern with illusion as the status of self and things is fundamentally challenged. In this world of floating dreams and evaporating dew, the question becomes, is there anything enduring and "really real?" Kenko writes, "the world is a place of such uncertainty and change that what we imagine we see before our eyes really does not exist ... External things are all illusions. Does anything remain unaltered even for the shortest time?"[22] The resolution of the question of illusion is determined by the level of subjectivity attained in reflecting on the meaning of impermanence.

    Consequently, emotions (or more generally, subjectivity) are a key to interpreting the main similarities and differences between Dogen the religious seeker and the Court literature. According to the analysis of some intellectual historians, the high point in the development of the view-of-impermanence in Japanese intellectual history is the overcoming of any trace of emotionalism in Dogen's




religious thought. Dogen casts off inauthentic deceptions and fixations through a complete acceptance of impermanence in its fundamental state. He asserts, for example, that the identity of "birth-death, and arising-desistance, is itself [nothing other than] nirvana." In contrast, Japanese poetry, as Robert Brewer and Earl Miner suggest, considers that "the great enemy of nature and human affairs is time . .. [for time] is a force over which man has no control at all."[23] Yet, to dispute these arguments in part, Buddhist poetry does resemble literary expressions in showing a remarkable range of emotions from the celebration of moments of ephemeral beauty to loneliness, longing and regret. Poetry that expresses the quality of sabi or solitude could be interpreted as completing the emotional cycle in emphasizing melancholic resignation or desolation.

    Transiency for Buddhism and the aesthetic tradition can be interpreted either "negatively" as a source of suffering, grief, despair and desolation or "positively" as a celebration of the promise of renewal and as a symbol of awakening. Although transiency ultimately discloses nonsubstantiality, the subjective attitudes serve as a kind of necessary illusion, or illusion surpassing illusion, in the quest for a transcendental standpoint. The negative view of impermanence includes personal lament for loss or poignant sorrow at the passing of things represented by the fading spring light or the cicada's melancholy call. The following waka recalls the Kokinshu era with its use of the pivot-word higurashi meaning "cicada" but also suggesting the setting sun (higure), the message being conveyed by the insect's sound:

Yama fukami                                               Rising as the mountain
Mine ni mo tani ni mo                                   Peaks and valleys deepen -
Koe tatete                                                   The twilight sound of the cicada
Kyo mo kurenu to                                        Singing of a day
Higurashi zo naku.                                        Already gone by.

Yet a deeper "negative" aspect appears in the sense of ontological anguish at the universality and inevitability of loss symbolized by the evaporating dew or the withering of plants and trees. The positive interpretation of transiency is based on the possibilities for renewal and continuity associated with the spring blossoms as well as the moral imperative for sustained practice at every moment. Finally, numerous examples of poetry go beyond the relativity of celebration and desolation to suggest the nonsubstantive




moment of transition lacking substratum or duration as the metaphysical ground of interpenetrating or overlapping seasonal manifestations. The "original face" (honrai memmoku) of primordial time is expressed by these poems in a way that resembles celebration, but reveals a more fundamental affirmation of impermanence "as it is" (arinomama).

    The following kanshi verse lends a sense of irony to the process of realization by playing off a traditional image in Chinese poetry of a bird's call which happens to sound like words of caution to return home. Generally, this image is used in a positive sense calling wayward souls back to their true source, but the poem reverses the meaning from the standpoint of Zen itinerancy:[24]

Treading along in this dreamlike, illusory world,
Without looking for the traces I may have left;
A cuckoo's song beckons me to return home -
Hearing this, I tilt my head to see
Who has told me to rum backwards;
But do not ask me where I am heading,
As I travel in this limitless world
Where every step I take is my home.






*    This paper was presented at a panel on Emotions in East Asian Thought at the annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies in Chicago, March 1997. I thank On-cho Ng, who organized the panel, and respondents Chung-ying Cheng and Hoyt Tillman for their insightful comments.

1    The term is related to the Latin exmovere, to move out from, and implies strong feeling and physiological changes that prepare the body to take immediate vigorous action. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfields, Massachusetts:
Merriam Webster, 1986), p. 407.

2    See Bernard Faure, Visions of Power Imagining Medieval Japanese Buddhism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

3    In the Shinkokinshu, IV, p. 362, Nihon koten bungaku zenshu (Tokyo: Iwanami shoten, 1975-7), vol. XXVI.




4    As translated in David Pollack, Zen Poems of the Five Mountains (New York: Crossroads, 1985), p. 37. Muse, one of the great Five Mountains (Gozan) poets, is also known for his Shobogenzo zuimonki-like admonitions against an intoxication with literary pursuits by "laymen with shaved heads. "

5    Dogen's waka are contained in Dogen zenji zenshu (Tokyo: Shunjusha, 1988-93), vol. VII, pp. 152-79 [hereafter DZZ]. A translation of the complete waka collection including those cited in this paper, along with a number of kanrhi verses (Dogen zenji zenshu, vol. IV), is in Steven Heine, trans., The Zen Poetry of Dogen: Verses from the Mountain of Eternal Peace (Boston: Charles E. Tuttle, 1997).

6    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, pp. 103-104; DZZ, VII. This verse was written by Dogen (1200-53), the founder of the Soto sect, during his trip to the then Rinzai Zen stronghold in the temporary capital of Kamakura.

7    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 104; DZZ, vol. VII.

8    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 127; DZZ, vol. IV

9    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 113, DZZ, vol. VII.

10    In Donald Keene, ed., Anthology of Japanese Literature (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1955), vol. I, p. 206.

11    Kenko Yoshida, Tsurezuregusa, trans. as Essays in Idleness by Donald Keene (Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle, 1981), p. 7.

12    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, pp. 98-99; DZZ, vol. VII

13    In Nihon koten bungaku zenshu, vol. VII Dogen's waka generally displays a tremendous borrowing from the phrasing of earlier poems, which is part of the common technique of "allusive variation" (honkadori) that can be interpreted in contemporary terms as the widespread deliberate practice of intertextuality. On the other hand, the extent of this in Dogen's case has led some scholars to speculate that either Dogen was not very original or some of his verses were actually subsequently concocted by his disciples as a way of "honoring" their master, see the discussion in Dogen zenji zenshu, vol. VII pp. 338-44.

14    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 114, DZZ, vol. VII.

15    Cited in Honda Giken, Nihonjin no mujokan (Tokyo: Nihon hoso shuppan kyokai 1978), p. 164. The translation of Teika (Shui guso, XI:335) is taken from Robert H. Brewer and Earl Miner, Japanese Court Poetry (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961), p. 15, which also cites Tomonori's verse (Kokinshu, II.85). Honda cites both Teika and Tomonori in comparison with Dogen.

16    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 109; DZZ, vol. VII

17    DZZ vo1I,p.3.

18     Fujiwara Teika, "Maigetsusho," in Nihon kagaku taikei, ed. N. Sasaki (Tokyo: Iwanami, 1935, vol. III, p. 349.

19    In Brewer, trans., Fujiwara Teika's Hundred-Poem Sequence of the Shoji Era, 1200 (Tokyo: Sophia University Press, 1978), p. 70 (kokoro here changed from




"heart" to "mind" for consistency).

20     Kenko,Tsurezuregusa, p. 138.

21    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 125-26; DZZ, vol. IV.

22    Kenko, Tsurezuregusa, p. 77.

23    Brewer and Miner, Japanese Court Poetry, pp. 310 and 475.

24    See Heine, The Zen Poetry of Dogen, p. 132, DZZ, vol. IV.




aijaku 愛著
arinomama やベソネネ
aware 哀ホ
Chomei 長明
Daruma 達摩
Dogen 道元
Dogen zenji zenshu 《道元禪師全集》
Fujiwara Teika 藤原定家
Genjokoan 《現成公案》
Gozan 五山
Hakusan/shirayama 白山
Higure 日暮ホ
Hojoki 方大記
Honda Giken 本田義兼
Honkadori 本歌取
honrai memmoku 本來面目
ippo-gujin 一法究盡
Kamakura 金兼倉
Kanbun 漢文
Kanshi 漢詩
Kenko 兼好
Ki no Tsurayuki 紀貫之
Kokinshu 《古今集》
kokoro naki 心スわ
Konko Yoshida 兼好吉田
Maigetsusho 《每月抄》




mujo 無常
Nihon kagaku taikei 《日本歌學大系》
Nihonjin no mujkoan 《日本人 無常觀》
Nihon koten bungaku 《日本古典文學系》
zenshu 禪宗
ozora 大空
Rakan 羅漢
Rinzai Zen 臨濟禪
Saigyo 西行
Satori 悟ベ
Shikan 止觀
shinjin datsuraku 心身脫落
Shinkokinshu 《新古今集》
Shobogenzo zuimonki 《正法眼藏隨聞記》
Shuiguso 《拾遺愚草》
Soto 曹洞
sute obune 捨サ   小船
suteru 捨サペ
Tomonori シパソベ
Tsurenzuregusa 《徒然草》
waka 和歌
Zazen 坐禪
Zeami 世阿彌