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The most important Japanese Zen master after Dogen, Hakuin reinvigorated Rinzai Zen through an emphasis on the uncompromising pursuit of enlightenment. Such a relentless pursuit can be found in the pages of his autobiography Wild Ivy. After being scared out of his wits by a Nichiren priest lecturing on the fires of Hell, Hakuin left home at the tender age of 14. He set himself to practicing but vacillated, alternating between fervent effort and doubt. Wild Ivy tells honestly of the ups and downs of Zen training, of peak satori experiences, and deflating conundrums. Perhaps the great value of this book is the human face that Hakuin manages to put on a centuries-old tradition by offering details from his own life. For instance, take his story of being beaten unconscious by a crazed woman with a broom and coming out of it with a penetrating understanding of the impenetrable Koans he had been working on. Through his merciless practice, Hakuin also experienced a physical deterioration, or "Zen sickness," and relates the storybook account of his ascending a remote mountain to glean the secret method of introspective meditation from a cave-dwelling hermit. Hakuin believed that even after satori, one must never stop practicing. Teaching is one method of practice, and Wild Ivy stands as one of Hakuin's great teachings. --Brian Bruya [via]