The Invisible Sutras

The Invisible Sutras

Invisible Sutras (1)

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were only available in Chinese. The books were to be printed on wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Invisible Sutras (2)

Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.

Invisible Sutras (3)

It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. A terrible famine was the consequence. Tetsugen took all of the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save many from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.

Invisible Sutras (4)

Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was finally fulfilled.

Invisible Sutras (5)

 The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.

The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

Invisible Sutras (6)

Zen Koan

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