Zen in English Literature and Oriental Classics


Zen is the most precious possession of Asia. With its beginnings in India, development in China, and final practical application in Japan, it is today the strongest power in the world. It is a world-power, for in so far as men live at all, they live by Zen. Wherever there is a poetical action, a religious aspiration, a heroic thought, a union of the nature within a man and the Nature without, there is Zen.

Speaking generally, in world culture we find Zen most clearly and significantly in the following: in the ancient worthies of Chinese Zen, for instance, Enô and Unmon; in the practical men of affairs of Japan, Hôjô Tokimune, for example, and in the poet Bashô; in Christ; in Eckehart, and in the music of Bach; in Shakespeare and Wordsworth. Zen in English Literature embraces the literature of Zen in Chinese and Japanese, the Chinese and Japanese Classics, and the whole extent of English Literature, with numerous quotations from German, French, Italian and Spanish Literatures. Don Quixote has a chapter all to himself; he is for the first time, I believe, satisfactorily explained. He is the purest example, in the whole of world literature, of the man who lives by Zen; but Sancho Panza also is not so far from the Kingdom of Heaven as perhaps even his author supposed.

Of the Chinese poets, Tôenmei and Hakurakuten, with . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Tokyo
Publication year:
  • 1942


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