Ragtag Lackwits


This Zen school of ours began to decline at the end of the Southern Sung. By the time of the Ming dynasty, the transmission had fallen to earth, all petered out. Now what remains of its real poison is found in Japan alone. Even here there’s not much left. It’s like scanning the midday sky for stars. As for you, you smelly, blind shavepates, you ragtag little lackwits, you wouldn’t be able to stumble on it even in your dreams.


…You’re imposters, the whole lot of you. You look like Zen monks, but you don’t understand Zen. You remind me of the clerics in the teaching schools, but you haven’t mastered the teachings. Some of you resemble precepts monks, but the precepts are beyond you. There’s even a resemblance to the Confucians, but you certainly haven’t grasped Confucianism either. What are you really like? I’ll tell you. Large sacks of rice, fitted out in black robes.


– Shoju Rojin (From The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin)






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