22. My Heart Burns Like Fire

    Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said, "My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes." He made the following rules which he practised every day of his life:

  • In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.
  • Retire at a regular hour. 
  • Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.
  • Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when along. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.
  • Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practise it.
  • When an opportunity comes, do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.
  • Do no regret the past. Look to the future.
  • Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.
  • Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. 
  • Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.


1. Soyen Shaku (1860-1919) was the first Zen Buddhist master to teach in the United States. He was a Rōshi of the Rinzai school and was abbot of both Kenchō-ji and Engaku-ji temples in Kamakura, Japan. Soyen was a disciple of Imakita Kosen. 


Soyen Shaku: One Hundred Years Ago (written in 1993). Soyen attends the World Parliment of Religion held in Chicago in the United States