Kozan Ichikyo

Kozan Ichikyo (1283 - Februari 12, 1360) was a Japanese Zen monk and poet.


  • Empty-handed I entered the world
    Barefoot I leave it.
    My coming, my going -
    Two simple happenings
    That got entangled.
    • Japanese Death Poems. Compiled by Yoel Hoffmann. ISBN 978-0-8048-3179-6; cited in: Scoop Nisker, ‎Wes Nisker. Crazy Wisdom, 1990. p. 205.; and cited in: Frank Arjava Petter. Reiki: The Legacy of Dr. Usui. 1998. p. 72

Quotes about Kozan IchikyoEdit

  • The Japanese Zen master Kozan Ichikyo wrote the [above dead] poem in the year 1360 before he laid down his calligraphy brush and left the world while sitting upright... We not only come into this world and leave this world alone, we also cannot take anything along with us into the other world — in case there is one. If there is no permanence, it is also nonsense to tie our boat to our possessions and dreams. Consequently, it is also senseless to cling to certain philosophies, thoughts, feelings, and values, which we take along to the grave when all is said and done. But instead of taking them to the grave with us, it is possible to already learn to let go of them during our lifetime. 1 think that this is a task in life!
    • Frank Arjava Petter. Reiki: The Legacy of Dr. Usui. 1998. p. 71-72
  • On a winter morning in 1360, Zen master Kozan Ichikyo gathered together his pupils. Kozan, 77, told them that, upon his death, they should bury his body, perform no ceremony and hold no services in his memory. Sitting in the traditional Zen posture, he then wrote [his dead poem]... After he finished, Kozan gently put down his brush, and then died. He was still sitting upright.
While remarkable, the story of Kozan’s death is not unusual in the Zen tradition. It is part of a larger practice of writing jisei (“death poems”), which continued for hundreds of years from as early as the seventh century by both monks and laypeople alike. Some of the earliest examples of jisei were appended to a will as a sort of farewell gesture to life. Gradually the jisei became a genre of its own, encompassing a range of poetic forms and moods. They are enigmatic, even ambivalent about death. It is because of this, perhaps, that the tradition is often overlooked.