Poetical Intuition And Zen


Since Universal Life or Spirit permeates the universe, the poetical

intuition of man never fails to find it, and to delight in everything

typical of that Spirit. The leaves of the plantain, says a Zen

poet, unfold themselves, hearing the voice of thunder. The flowers

of the hollyhock turn towards the sun, looking at it all day long.

Jesus could see in the lily the Unseen Being who clothed it so

lovely. Wordsworth fo
nd the most profound thing in all the world to

be the universal spiritual life, which manifests itself most directly

in nature, clothed in its own proper dignity and peace. Through

every star, says Carlyle, through every grass blade, most through

every soul, the glory of present God still beams.

It is not only grandeur and sublimity that indicate Universal Life,

but smallness and commonplace do the same. A sage of old awakened to

the faith[FN#151] when he heard a bell ring; another, when he looked

at the peach blossom; another, when he heard the frogs croaking; and

another, when he saw his own form reflected in a river. The minutest

particles of dust form a world. The meanest grain of sand under our

foot proclaims a divine law. Therefore Teu Tsz Jo-shi), pointing to

a stone in front of his temple, said: All the Buddhas of the past,

the present, and the future are living therein.[FN#152]

[FN#151] Both the Chinese and the Japanese history of Zen are full

of such incidents.

[FN#152] Zen-rin-rui-shu and To-shi-go-roku.