History on Fire
History on Fire
Mar 18, 2019
EPISODE 45 Sex, Sake and Zen: The Life of Ikkyu Sojun (Part 1)
Play • 1 hr 52 min

“The autumn breeze of a single night of love is better than a hundred thousand years of sterile sitting meditation.” — Ikkyu 

“Thirsty, you dream of water. Cold, you want fire. Not me: I want the firm warm breasts and wetness of a woman.” — Ikkyu 

"Drinking and lust, no man can match me in these things.” — Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones 

“You will always be wild and strange among men—wild and strange even when they love you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche 

“…to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” — Henry David Thoreau 

"Where can I find the best beer and the prettiest women?" — Drukpa Kunley 

So many History on Fire episodes feature incredibly violent pages from humanity’s past. This is not one of those episodes. The hero of our tale was too busy enjoying life in 15th century Japan to join the civil wars raging around him or to go around killing people. As the illegitimate son of the Emperor of Japan, Ikkyu Sojun experienced the harsh side of life from the moment he was born, but always looked for a way not to let it spoil his good mood. His main passions (in no particular order) were Zen Buddhism, sex and drinking. And in the midst of the endless party that was in life, he managed to have a tremendously powerful impact on Japanese culture. In this episode, we will tackle the odd phenomenon of people being more comfortable with warfare and violence than sex, how Tom Robbins introduced me to Ikkyu, Sovannahry’s Ikkyu painting (the first thing I see every morning), the odd circumstances of Ikkyu’s birth, a history of Zen, Ikkyu’s training and attempted suicide, Ikkyu’s burning of his ‘certificate of enlightenment’, his clashes with the Zen establishment, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, becoming ‘the Crazy Cloud’, Drukpa Kunley and his… ehm… ‘flaming thunderbolt of wisdom’… 

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For those of you who may be interested, here is a lecture series I created about Taoist philosophy: http://www.danielebolelli.com/downloads/taoist-lectures/

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