Died on the twenty-eighth day of March, 1878 at the age of seventy-seven
I was born into this world I leave it at my death. Into a thousand towns My legs have carried me, And countless homes— What are all these? A moon reflected in the water A flower floating in the sky Ho!
“Ho!” is a translation of the word totsu, a kind of challenging cry uttered at the moment of enlightenment.”
Died on the fifth day of the second month, 1256 at the age of fifty-six
In all my six and fifty years No miracles occurred. For the Buddhas and the Great Ones of the Faith, I have questions in my heart. And if I say, “Today, this hour I leave the world,” There’s nothing in it. Day after day, Does not the sun rise in the east?
“In Japan, as elsewhere in the world, it has become customary to write a will in preparation for one’s death. But Japanese culture is probably the only one in the world in which, in addition to leaving a will, a tradition of writing a “farewell poem to life” (jisei) took root and became widespread. If we examine the wills left by the Japanese throughout their history, we occasionally find instructions and appeals to survivors concerning their moral or social conduct; usually, however, wills deal only with the division of property. It has been suggested, then, that the death poem is perhaps a kind of salutation. The Japanese learn hundreds of polite forms of address so as to be prepared for every possible social situation, and status and prestige are measured, to a great extent, by one’s ability to find the greeting most appropriate to the circumstances. Should we then regard death poems as a final salute to those who remain alive, the last act of politeness? In fact, death poems reveal that before death, the Japanese tend rather to break the restraints of politeness that hold them back during their lifetime; we must comb through hundreds of death poems in order to find one or two written in the style customary for polite greetings. Neither material nor social concerns come to the fore. Death poems seem to reflect, more than anything else, the spiritual legacy of the Japanese.
Dokyo, also known as Shoju Ronin, lived most of his life in a hut and refused to join the large monasteries. He saw in zazen, Zen meditation, the essence of the Zen way and used to deal harshly with believers who sought him out to hear so-called Zen doctrine. He would occasionally even draw his sword on them and drive them away, in keeping perhaps with his samurai origin. He is said to have once pushed the Zen master Hakuin from the pulpit when the latter rose to speak, whereupon Hakuin fainted from the force of the blow. For as long as Hakuin dwelt with him, Dokyo showed him no preference, and made him beg from door to door for his portion of rice like the other monks.
Dokyo wrote his last words while seated in the upright Zen position. Then he put down his brush, hummed “an ancient song” to himself, suddenly laughed out loud, and died.
Died on the sixth day of the tenth month, 1721 at the age of eighty.
Here in the shadow of death it is hard To utter the final word. I’ll only say, then, “Without saying.” Nothing more, Nothing more.