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久松真一 Hisamatsu Shin'ichi (1889-1980)



Hiszamacu szerint a zen művészetnek hét ismérve van: szabálytalanság (不均整 fukinsei), egyszerűség (簡素 kanso), szikárság (渋味 shibui/shibumi), természetesség (自然 shizen), sejtetés (幽玄 yūgen), függetlenség (脱俗 datsuzoku), nyugalom (静寂 seijaku).
Hozzá kellene tenni nyolcadiknak a humort is.

(Terebess Gábor)

PDF: Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition.
Hisamatsu's Talks on Linji

Translated by Christopher Ives and Tokiwa Gishin


Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, the most astute Zen-informed philosopher in this century, was born in 1889 in Gifu Prefecture. Hisamatsu was a student of the philosopher NISHIDA Kitarô at Kyoto University and later a professor at the same university and others. On the advice of Nishida, he practiced Zen under the instructions of Master IKEGAMI Shôzan at Myôshinji Zen monastery in Kyoto. Hisamatsu undertook a comparison of Eastern and Western culture from a penetrating religio-philosophical point of view based on the Formless Self. A collection of his works, Hisamatsu Shin'ichi Chosakushû, includes, among other things, Tôyôteki Mu (1939, Oriental Nothingness), Zettai Kiki to Fukkatsu (1969, Ultimate Crisis and Resurrection), a comprehensive series of talks about the Vow of Humankind (1951-53), and various articles relating to calligraphy and the tea ceremony.

"The 7 Characteristics of Zen Arts," compiled by Shinichi Hisamatsu to define what makes a work of art "Zen" or not. The 7 characteristics— asymmetry (不均整 fukinsei), simplicity (簡素 kanso), lofty dryness (渋味 shibui/shibumi), effortlessness (自然 shizen), endless reverberation (幽玄 yūgen), unconventionality (脱俗 datsuzoku), quietude (静寂 seijaku).

Hisamatsu Shinichi Memorial Museum


Hisamatsu Shin'ichi is the founder of the most important renewal movement within Japanese Zen, the FAS Society:

In the word FAS, the three essential dimensions of existence are expressed: the F from Formless Self, the A from All Mankind, and the S from Suprahistorical History. Hisamatsu was convinced that the traditional Zen was remiss in recognizing the problems having to do with the world and history. Attention was unilaterally directed towards awakening to the True Self.
On the other hand, science and socialism occupied themselves with the concrete problems of the world and history, but ignored awakening to the True Self.
Consequently, Hisamatsu was deeply convinced of both the one-sidedness of traditional Zen as well as that of science and social engagement. What he had in mind was a manner by which full justice would be done to all of the three fundamental aspects of human existence.



PDF: An Introduction to Hisamatsu Shin'ichi's Religious Thought
F.A.S. Society, Kyoto, 2012


PDF: Critical Sermons of the Zen Tradition. Hisamatsu's Talks on Linji
translated and edited by Christopher Ives and Tokiwa Gishin

University of Hawaii Press, 2002


PDF: True Person, Formless Self: Lay Zen Master Hisamatsu Shin'ichi
by Christopher Ives
In: Zen Masters / edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright. New York, 2010. Chapter 8.


PDF: Zen as the Negation of Holiness
In: The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School and Its Contemporaries
Edited by Frederick Franck
World Wisdom, 2004, pp. 171-182.


PDF: The Aesthetic Theories of D.T. Suzuki and Shin'ichi Hisamatsu, pp. 30-45.
In: Narrative agency in thirteenth-fourteenth century Chan figure painting : a study of hagiography-iconography text-image relationships
by McNeill, Malcolm L. S.
Thesis (Ph.D.), SOAS University of London, 2017.


Ultimate Crisis and Resurrection1 I : Sin and Death ; II : Redemption

"On Mutually Going Into The Matter Of Self"

True Sitting & the Fundamental Koan


Meeting Dr. Hisamatsu By Urs App

Memories of My Student Life: An Autobiographical Essay

The Current Task of Religion


Hisamatsu Shin'ichi 久松真一 (1889–1980) Born into a Pure Land Buddhist family and raised in Gifu Prefecture, already as a child Hisamatsu intended to become a Pure Landž priest. As he came into contact with scientific knowledge and critical reasoning, however, he found his naïve beliefs shattered and decided to pursue the study of philosophy under Nishida Kitarō* at Kyoto University. In 1915, despairing of the limits of rational thought, Hisamatsu took Nishida's advice and began to practice Zen under Ike gami Shōzan at the Rinzai training monastery of Myōshin-ji in Kyoto. During his first intense retreat there, as he was to recount later in his autobiography, he experienced a breakthrough that was to influence the course of his life and thought. Hisamatsu continued Zen practice as a layman while teaching at Kyoto University, then later at Hanazono University. Unlike other lay practitioners like D. T. Suzuki, Nishitani Keiji, Ueda Shizuteru, and indeed Nishida himself, all of whom drew inspiration from the Pure Land traditions of their families as well as from Christianity and its mystical tradition, Hisamatsu positioned himself firmly within the Zen tradition. His aim was to carry Zen beyond the monastic walls and into the contemporary world. A profoundly religious thinker, tea master, calligrapher, and inspiring force behind a lay Zen movement, Hisamatsu was not a systematic philosopher in the western vein. As the organization of his collected works shows, his thought was centered on awakening in its philosophical, religious, and cultural aspects, and is largely based on his own experience. The following excerpt, drawn from his graduate thesis, attempts to ground the notion of “nothingness” in the scriptural tradition of Buddhism.

Oriental nothingness
by Hisamatsu Shin'ichi, 1946, 33, 36–42, 48–50, 54–6, 63–6 (65, 67–73, 80–2, 86–7, 95–7)

1946: 「東洋的無の性格」 in 『久松真一著作集』 [Collected writings of Hisamatsu Shin'ichi] (Tokyo: Risōsha, 1969–1996), 1: 33–66. English adapted from the trans. of Richard De Martino, “The Characteristics of Oriental Nothingness,” Philosophical Studies of Japan 2 (1960): 65–97.

What I like to call oriental nothingnessž is a nothingness peculiar to the Orient. It is, especially in contrast to western culture, the fundamental moment of “oriental” culture. I also consider it to be the core of Buddhism, and the essence of Zen. Further, it is the living experience of self-realization which constitutes the base of my own religion and philosophy.…

Negative Delineation

The very same expression, “nothingness,” can be taken in various senses.… These include the negation of being, a negative predication, an abstract concept, an imagined or conjectured nothingness, and unconsciousness.… But what I wish to call oriental nothingness is different from all of these.

Oriental nothingness is not like the nothingness in the first sense of the negation of being, in which either some particular being alone “is not,” or the whole of being “is not”.… Such expressions as “the three worlds are without things” and “not a single thing” should not be misunderstood to simply mean “there is nothing”.… Through the centuries, falling into such a distorted understanding was strictly admonished by calling such an understanding “a literal negative understanding,” an “annihilating-nothing view,” or a “rigid-nothingness view.”

In the second chapter, entitled “Prajñā,” of his Platform Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng (seventh century), declares:

The mindž in its dimensions is broad and great, like a void. It has no sides or limits; it is neither square nor round, neither large nor small. It is neither blue, yellow, red, nor white; it has neither upper nor lower; it is neither long nor short. It knows neither anger nor pleasure, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil. It is without beginning and without end. But good friends, do not, hearing me speak of emptinessž, become attached to emptiness.

Again, oriental nothingness is not nothing in the sense of a negative predication. Probably no one would consider the “not” or negation in “a desk is not a chair” to be oriental nothingness. But the “not” in “it is not this, it is not that,” or even “it is not any thing at all,” may seem to qualify as oriental nothingness. However, inasmuch as the predication “is not any thing at all” can be made of any subject—for example, “this desk is not any thing at all”—it does no more than assert that “it is not any thing at all apart from itself; it is just what it is.” This is not going beyond all predication absolutely.…

In the case, however, of “God is not any thing at all,” this does not simply mean that “God is not any thing apart from God; God is God.” This rather has the meaning that “God is beyond all predicates”.… This resembles statements in Buddhism such as: “The self-naturež of the true źtathatāŻ is finally and ultimately not any thing at all, that is, it is nothing”.… This nothing is no other than the nothing of Christianity when it refers to God as beyond all predication, that is, as nothing.…

Oriental nothingness itself is also beyond delimitation and beyond predication. It can, therefore, be said that “oriental nothingness is not any thing within everything that is,” that is, that “oriental nothingness is nothing.” But oriental nothingness is not identical with this nothing of mere predicative negation or negative predication. If it were identical, there would be no reason especially to call it oriental.

Oriental nothingness, further, is not nonbeing or nothingness in the third sense, that is, in the sense of an abstract concept.… For Parmenides, “being” is that which fills up space, and “nonbeing” is a void. For Hegel, the unity of “being and nonbeing” is “becoming.” With both Parmenides and Hegel this nonbeing is nonbeing as an abstract concept.… Yet oriental nothingness does not belong to the nonbeing of “being and nonbeing.” It is rather nothingness which goes beyond “being and nonbeing.”

In the twenty-first chapter of the Nirvāa sūtra it is said: “Buddha-naturež is not being and is not nonbeing.” In the second volume of the Sata śāstra it is stated: “Because being and nonbeing are both originally and fundamentally nothingness, in my true form the various presentations and representations proclaim that being and nonbeing are both in their source emptiness (śūnyatā)”.… Such statements have no other intention than to try to express the nothingness that transcends being and nonbeing.

Oriental nothingness is also not imagined or conjectured nothingness. We can imagine that the desk which is really here at present does not exist.… Thinking intently in this way, it can appear as if all things are not, that there is neither desk nor chair, neither floor nor house, neither earth nor heavens, neither body nor mind. For one intently thinking in this way there obtains one sort of the experience that “everything is śūnya.…

Oriental nothingness is not anything like a subjective, contemplative state. Seen from the perspective of oriental nothingness, just as the contemplated buddha is not a true buddha, so the contemplated “everything is śūnya” is not the true śūnya. Oriental nothingness is not the passive contemplated state, but is rather the active contemplating mind. It is not, however, simply active contemplation. It is, rather, subject-nothingness, in which active and passive are one, and in which the duality of mind and object is left behind.…

Whether speaking of “mind” or of “seeing,” if they are externalized or objectified, they are no longer the true “mind” or true “seeing.” It must be said, as was said by layman Pang: “I only ask you to void that which is, but to take care not to reify or be captured by that voidness.”

Oriental nothingness is not, again, nothingness in the fifth sense of unconsciousness.… Such a nothingness is no more than our not being conscious of anything—not even of the nothingness.… Oriental nothingness, however, is not this kind of nothingness.… It is “perfectly lucid and clear,” is “thoroughly clear ever-present awareness,” that is, is that of which we are most clearly aware. Although we say “are clearly aware,” this is not an awareness in which nothingness is external or objective, different from the one who is aware. This is rather an awareness in which subject and object are one.…

Whether we speak of oriental nothingness as “no-mind,” “no-consciousness,” the “great death itself,” or nirvāaž, it is not the unconsciousness of sleep, fainting, or ordinary death.… There is no condition in which one is so clearly aware as in that of “no-mind” or “no-consciousness,” and there is no time when life is so alive and so ready to burst as in the “great death itself.” Although Baizhang Huaihai said, “Do not remember anything at all,” and Huangbo said “subject and object are both forgotten,” this is not a blank loss of consciousness. On the contrary. This is rather supreme awareness in which there is not the slightest unawareness or unclarity.

Positive Delineation

Oriental nothingness… possesses a characteristic such as that expressed in the past by the phrase “not a single thing.” But it further possesses a characteristic such as has been expressed as the “void.” This characteristic I shall call its “void-like” nature. Why then is oriental nothingness expressed by this term? In order to make this clear, let us first consider the meanings which are embraced by the term “void.”

In his “Records Mirroring the Original Source,” Yongming quotes from the Commentary on the Mahayana Treatise to the effect that “void” has ten meanings. The first is the meaning of no-obstruction. This means that in and among the various things that have form, the void knows no obstruction. The second is the meaning of omnipresence. This means that there is no point not reached by void. The third is the meaning of impartiality. This means that the void is impartial, showing no instance of choosing. The fourth is the meaning of broad and great. This means that the void is broad and great, having no limits. The fifth is the meaning of formless. This means that the void is formless, going beyond źrūpaŻor forms. The sixth is the meaning of purity. This means that the void is pure, having no afflictions. The seventh is the meaning of stability. This means that the void is stable, that is, without coming to be or passing away. The eighth is the meaning of voiding-being. This means that the being of the void is spatially empty and is without dimensions. The ninth is the meaning of voidingvoidness. This means that the void is not attached to its voidness. The tenth is the meaning of without obtaining. This means that the void … neither clings itself nor can be clung to.


Oriental nothingness and the void do have similar characteristics…. But, of course, oriental nothingness is not the same as the void, which has neither awareness nor life. Oriental nothingness is the One who is “always clearly aware.” Therefore, it is called “mind,” “self,” or the “true mind”.


Oriental nothingness is, thus, in no sense inanimate like the void. It is living. Not only is it living, it also possesses mind. Nor does it merely possess mind; it possesses self-consciousness.… And yet, although oriental nothingness is said to be mind-like, it cannot be said to be exactly the same as what we ordinarily call mind.… For this mind is mind possessing all of the characteristics of the void: non-obstructiveness, omnipresence, impartiality, broadness and greatness, formlessness, purity, stability, the voiding of being, the voiding of voidness, unattainability, “one-alone”-ness, having neither internal nor external, and so on. Since what we ordinarily call mind does not possess these characteristics of a void, in order to distinguish the two, it has, from ancient times, been said that this “mind is like a void.”


It is said, in Christianity, that God created out of nothing (ex nihilo) heaven and earth, plants, man, and all things.… It is precisely this creating out of nothing which can be called true creativity. In the God of Christianity we can find the perfect idea of creativity.… But such a being is not one which can be actually confirmed by us in a fact. Such a being, consequently, is either an idealization or an ideation of that human creativity which can actually be attested to by us, or else is no more than a being which simply has been hypothesized or is believed in.


In Buddhism there is the expression, “All is created by alone-mind.” This, however, is not merely an idealization or matter of faith, but is an actual certification by the “alone-mind.” Kant says that the actual world we experience daily is not, as we commonly think, something which exists completely external to and independent of our mind, but is something which our mind has created.… What Kant speaks of as the “mind that creates all things,” however, is so-called “consciousness-in-general” (Bewusstsein überhaupt). For Kant, the mind forms, according to the formal categories of “consciousness-in-general,” the impressions which it has received from what he calls the “thing-in-itself ”.… In Buddhism, on the contrary, that which is reflected in the mirror is not something which comes from outside the mirror, but is something which is produced from within the mirror.…

Since, however, a mirror which produces from within that which is reflected is not an actual possibility, this mind is not fully served by the analogy of a mirror. Buddhism frequently employs the analogy of water and waves in order to illustrate more adequately the creative nature of this mind which is not fully taken care of in the analogy of the mirror.

Waves are not something which come from outside the water and are reflected in the water. Waves are produced by the water but are never separated from the water. When they cease to be waves, they return to the water—their original source. Returning to the water, they do not leave the slightest trace in the water. Speaking from the side of the waves, they arise from the water and return to the water. Speaking from the side of the water, the waves are the movement of the water. While the water in the wave is one with the wave and not two, the water does not come into being and disappear, increase or decrease, according to the coming into being and disappearing of the wave. Although the water as wave comes into being and disappears, the water as water does not come into being and disappear. Thus, even when changing into a thousand or ten thousand waves, the water as water is itself constant and unchanging. The mind of “all things are created by the mind alone” is like this water. The assertions of the Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, that “self-nature, in its origin constant and without commotion, produces the ten thousand things” and that “all things are never separated from self-nature,” as well as the statement in the Vimalakīrti-nirdeśa sūtra, “from the non-abiding origin is produced all things,” express just this creative feature of mind.

Oriental nothingness is this mind which is to be likened to the water as subject. The creative nature of oriental nothingness is to be illustrated by the relation between the water and the wave, in which the water is forever and in every way the subject. If one were to make a subject of the wave which is produced and disappears, this would be the ordinary self of man. It is in such an ordinary subject's reverting back from wave to water—that is, returning to its source—and re-emerging as the true-subject or true-self that the characteristics of oriental nothingness must be sought and are to be found.