Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Historical Figures in American Zen: Nakagawa Soen...

Nakagawa was an outstanding poet, who was definitely not among the "war party" in Japan during WWII.

He was head of one of the most important Rinzai temples in Japan, Ryutakuji, and among the adjectives applied to him were these: eccentric, talented, cosmopolitan.

Nakagawa was the teacher of Eido Shimano Roshi, who established the Dai Bosatsu Zendo in New York, and kept the Zen Studies Society flourishing.

Nakagawa's life is interesting not merely because of the above but because of what happened later in his life. He suffered a head injury and was depressed for many years, especially since he could no longer function as head of a temple. One night, after apparently drinking to much he drowned in a pond.

Nakagawa's life and death can teach us many things, if we are willing to pay attention.

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