The Deoxyribonucleic Hyperdimension

Ryonen's Clear Realization

The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a granddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.

The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen's hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.

Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun after she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.

She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugyu to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.

Ryonen then went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.

Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.

Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.

Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

In the service of my Empress I burned incense to

perfume my exquisite clothes

Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to

enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing

scene of autumn

I have said enough about moonlight,

Ask no more.

Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no

wind stirs.


A Buddha
A Cup of Tea
A Drop of Water
A Letter to a Dying Man
A Mother's Advice
A Parable
A Smile in His Lifetime
Accurate Proportion
Arresting the Stone Buddha
Black-Nosed Buddha
Buddha's Zen
Calling Card
Children of His Majesty
Eating the Blame
Eshun's Departure
Every-Minute Zen
Everything Is Best
Finding a Diamond on a Muddy Road
Fire-Poker Zen
Flower Shower
Gisho's Work
Great Waves
Gudo and the Emperor
Happy Chinaman
How Grass & Trees Become Enlightened
How To Write a Chinese Poem
If You Love, Love Openly
In Dreamland
In the Hands of Destiny
Incense Burner
Inch Time Foot Gem
Is That So?
Joshu's Zen
Just Go To Sleep
Kasan Sweat
Learning To Be Silent
Midnight Excursion
Mokusen's Hand
Muddy Road
My Heart Burns Like Fire
No Attachment to Dust
No Loving-Kindness
No Water, No Moon
No Work, No Food
Not Far from Buddhahood
Nothing Exists
One Note of Zen
Open Your Own Treasure House
Publishing the Sutras
Real Prosperity
Reciting Sutras
Right & Wrong
Ryonen's Clear Realization
Shoun & His Mother
Sleeping in the Daytime
Soldiers of Humanity
Sour Miso
Stingy in Teaching
Storyteller's Zen
Teaching the Ultimate
Ten Successors
The Blockhead Lord
The Dead Man's Answer
The First Principle
The Gates of Paradise
The Giver Should Be Thankful
The Last Poem of Hoshin
The Last Rap
The Last Will & Testament
The Living Buddha & the Tubmaker
The Moon Cannot Be Stolen
The Most Valuable Thing in the World
The Real Miracle
The Silent Temple
The Sound of One Hand
The Stingy Artist
The Stone Mind
The Story of Shunkai
The Subjugation of a Ghost
The Taste of Banzo's Sword
The Tea-Master & the Assassin
The Thief Who Became a Disciple
The True Path
The Tunnel
The Voice of Happiness
Three Days More
Three Kinds of Disciples
Time to Die
Tosui's Vinegar
Trading Dialogue for Lodging
True Friends
True Reformation
What Are You Doing! What Are You Saying!
Your Light May Go Out
Zen Dialogue
Zen in a Beggar's Life

 Collection of Stone and Sand from 13th & 20th Century Japan From Zen::Koans