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Vegetable Root Discources

The following is an excerpt from R. H. Blyth's classic work, Haiku - Eastern Culture:

In China, as in Japan, the gradual tendency, during three thousand years, was the mingling of what started as three distinct trains of thought, Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism-to add a fourth, Zen. As a late example of this synthesis we may take the Saikontan, written by Kojisei. Details of the life of the author are not known, nor is the date of the book, but it was already in existence in 1624. The Saikontan consists of three hundred and fifty nine short pieces of prose and verse... The name, Saikontan means literally "vegetable root discourses" and is used to imply that only a man leading a simple life is capable of being a poet or philosopher.

...The following extracts will give an idea of his not always complete assimilation of Zen, Taoism and Confucianism. But the reader is all the more urged to apply each of the following extracts, whatever their ostensible purport, to poetry, religion and practical conduct, remembering that if these three are not one, they are not three.

- The true Buddha is in the home; the real Way is everyday life. A man who has sincerity, who is a peace-maker, cheerful in looks and gentle in his words, harmonious in mind and body towards parents and brethren, such a man is vastly superior to one who practises breathing control and introspection.

- If the mind is clear, a dark room has its blue sky; if the mind is sombre, broad daylight gives birth to demons and evil spirits.

- The song of birds, the voices of insects, are all means of conveying truth to the mind; in flowers and grasses we see messages of the Way. The scholar, pure and clear of mind, serene and open of heart, should find in everything what nourishes him.