Author Topic: Ryonen's Clear Realization  (Read 2068 times)

Offline Quiet Heart

  • Member
  • Posts: 129
  • In Quietness is the beginning of all things.
    • View Profile
Ryonen's Clear Realization
« on: January 03, 2010, 04:13:33 pm »
One of my favorite Zen stories.

Ryonen's Clear Realization

The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a graddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.
The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen's hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.
Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun aftr she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.
She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugya to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.
Ryonen went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.
Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.
Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.
Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

In the service of my Empress I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.

Can you hear the sound of the pines and ceders when no wind blows?

Offline santamonicacj

  • Member
  • Posts: 2268
    • View Profile
Re: Ryonen's Clear Realization
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2010, 04:40:28 pm »
Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.
Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.
And I thought Tibetans were over-the-top! :eek:
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Shi Hong Yang

  • Peace inside ripples out
  • Member
  • Posts: 180
  • Vinaya Bhikshuni translator of Mahayana Tripitaka
    • View Profile
    • Sangha Walks
Re: Ryonen's Clear Realization
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2010, 05:48:06 pm »
Tibetans corner no market on this.  In fact, Buddhists desiring to leaving home have done so many things like this in order to be accepted for monastic life and many masters have been over the top driven to it by their students lack of understanding or their (the master's) desire to overcome some obstacle. 

Let the history speak for itself and respect it a little more stories of trials and extreme challenges overcomed are respected among the Japanese Buddhist community and overseas as well. 

Read these stories for what they inspirations to us all whether we would actually be like them or not, what was accepted culturally then many may not accept at all now or in Americas or Europe.
Chinese Buddhism is the oldest form of Buddhism in the USA, in 2013 it is 161 years old.  The first Buddhist temples were built in California in 1952 & 1854. Second oldest is Korean in 1900 and Japanese in 1902 both in Hawaii.


SimplePortal 2.3.3 © 2008-2010, SimplePortal