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Hakuin Studies

Summaries of Hakuin’s Writings in Japanese (Kana hōgo)
by Yoshizawa Katsuhiro  

Itsumade gusa

『壁生草』 (Wild Ivy). Published in 1765 - 66

The Itsumade gusa is an autobiographical work by Hakuin, written at the end of the master’s life. The final fascicle of the work is basically a repetition of the material in the Yasen kanna.

There several more such autobiographical materials amongst the writings of Hakuin, such as the Yasen kanna itself and the Yaemugura 八重葎, third fascicle, “Tsuketari osana monogatari.” Various other autobiographical materials may be found scattered throughout the master’s other kana hōgo publications.

Autobiographical writings are not common in the literature of Zen; generally our knowledge of a particular master’s life derives from the “records of activities” (anroku 行録) or “chronological biographies” (nenpu 年譜) compiled posthumously by the master’s disciples. Hakuin is distinctive in providing so many descriptions of events in his own life; such descriptions provide, needless to say, a rich source of material for Hakuin research.

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  Last Update: 2003/12/19