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Branching Streams Flow in the DarknessZen Talks on the Sandokai$
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Shunryu Suzuki, Mel Weitsman, and Michael Wenger

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780520219823

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520219823.001.0001

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Sekito Kisen and the Sandokai

Sekito Kisen and the Sandokai

(p.11) Sekito Kisen and the Sandokai
Branching Streams Flow in the Darkness
University of California Press

Sekito Kisen (Ch. Shitou Xiqian, 700–790), author of the Sandokai, was born in Guangdong Province in southern China at the beginning of the eighth century. This was a formative era in which Zen was growing in popularity and was first articulated as a unique school and lineage. It was also during this period that Zen became known for its emphasis on the direct experience of reality and the practice of seated meditation. Not much is known about Sekito's life. The first recorded event is an encounter, at the age of twelve, with the Sixth Ancestor, Daikan Eno (Ch. Dajian Huineng, 638–713). The Sandokai (Ch. Cantongqi) addresses the division between the Northern and Southern schools as well as other dichotomies such as one and many, light and dark, sameness and difference. Made up of twenty-two couplets (forty-four lines), the poem often follows a pattern of distinguishing first discontinuity, then continuity, and finally complementarity.

Keywords:   seated meditation, Sekito Kisen, Sandokai, Zen, poem

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