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Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu (Companions for the Journey) [Paperback]

By Ikkyu & John Stevens (Translator)
Our Price $ 13.60  
Retail Value $ 16.00  
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Item Number 281756  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.25"
Weight:   0.3 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 2007
Publisher   White Pine Press
ISBN  1893996654  
EAN  9781893996656  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Wild Ways: Zen Poems of Ikkyu presents more than one hundred poems by one of the most irreverent and iconoclastic Zen masters of Japan. Ikkyu (1394-1491) wanted his Zen to be direct, raw, and authentic and his topics range from criticism of the pervasive hypocrisy of the Buddhist establishment to celebration of the unfettered Zen life and the joys of sexual intimacy. His famous poem, "Skeletons," is included in its entirety.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
if it rains, let it rain / if it storms let it storm  Apr 7, 2008
The title of the book "Wild Ways" is apt for the legendary Japanese Zen Monk Ikkyu (1394 - 1481)who wrote poetry, drank frequently, found truth in brothels, and was deadly serious about Zen meditation. He was disgusted with the hypocrisy of fame-and-fortune Zen and frequently ridiculed them. He shunned temple life and mingled with all manner of people. But at age 80 he was asked to become the head abbot of the most important Zen Temple of Japan Daitoku-ji which he succeeded in rebuilding after it had been destroyed in a war. He died at age 87 while sitting in a lotus pose.
His Rinzai Zen master Kaso gave him the name "Ikkyu" which roughly means "one pause" after he penetrated and understood a koan at age 24. He achieved enlightenment at age 26. But Ikkyu preferred to call himself "crazy cloud" and his master Kaso concurred when he said " Ikkyu is my true heir, but his ways are wild".

A Crazy Cloud, out in the open
Blown about madly, as wild as they come!
Who knows where this cloud will go, where
the will will still?
The sun rises from the eastern sea, and shines
over the land.

"Wild Ways" is a selection of more than a thousand poems he wrote. He writes freely about sex which comes across as raw and in your face, his beloved Mori, and struggles of hermit life. In the end, it contains the famous "Skeleton" poem in its entirety with pencil sketches which adds a beautiful touch. Skeleton is the haunting expression of the classical Buddhist theme No beginning, no end, emptiness of emptiness.

Flee and
And are no more:
All are empty dreams
Devoid of meaning

If you enjoy this translation by John Stevens, you will enjoy my other favorite Japanese poet Ryokan, also translated by John Stevens.
If Ryokan was a gentle curling fog on the mountain side, Ikkyu was the lashing storm.
a work of art  Apr 7, 2000
This is my favorite Ikkyu translation and collection. John Stevens captures Ikkyu's wry wit and his earthy sensibilities, his concurrent plunges into deep despair, and his profound spirituality. The presentation of the book is delightful as well. This is a tiny book. You can carry it in your pocket. It has lovely artwork intermingled with the poetry. I read this in one sitting, and then over and over.
The Wild Ways of Crazy Cloud  Apr 7, 2000
Ikkyu's poetry is extremely wide in scope, ranging from poems expressing his understanding and experiences of love and sex, to poems which express "standard" Mahayana/Zen doctrine, to poems which protest the way in which society treats the poor and vulnerable. Mr. Stevens does an admirable job of selecting poems for this volume which are representative of this range. He provides a brief but useful introduction, which gives enough information to understand the cultural setting of Ikkyu and his poetry, without intruding upon the reader's own appreciation and enjoyment of Ikkyu's work. "Skeletons", which Mr. Stevens renders accurately into a combined prose/poetry piece, is particulary interesting, as it is in this work that we see Ikkyu teach his form of Zen in a way that is both instructive in content and beautiful in form.

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