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Hakuin Studies

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

Yasen kanna #2

『夜船閑話』 巻之下 (Quiet conversations on an evening boat, part 2)

This work, although sharing the same title as Hakuin’s famous Yasen kanna —— in which he described his recovery from his “Zen illness” through the practice of naikannohō —— is utterly unrelated in content. The work consists of sermon addressed to Matsudaira Masanobu (1728 - 177), daimyō (lord) of the Kojima han (domain) in Suruga, the region where Hakuin lived. Matsudaira, with an annual rice income of only 10,000 koku (approx. 50,000 bushels), ruled over one the smallest domains in Japan; unable to afford even a castle, he had difficulty maintaining his sankin kōtai and other duties to the shogun ate.

The Yasen kanna, #2 was Hakuin’s advice to Matsudaira on how best to govern; his words seem directed also toward those assisting the ruler. The advice reflects that found in the Hebi ichigo, Sashimogusa, and other works advising daimyō on matters of governance: to eliminate banquets, reduce the number of concubines, quit falconry (which not only burdens the serfs but involves the daimyō in the taking of life), rid the court of sycophants, and entrust government to wise ministers.

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  Last Update: 2003/12/19