The Eighteen Great Enlightenments of Wonderful Joy, by Zen Master Hakuin

Though the earth is hard, tread on it softly! Great things are destroyed by little things. If you are careless about little things, you will accomplish nothing.
Everybody — Wake up!

Zen Master Hakuin

Hakuin Ekaku Willow KannonI practised introspection continuously, and before only three years had passed — even though I had not taken any medicines or received any treatments by acupuncture or moxacautery — all those former illnesses of mine had been thoroughly swept away as if by some predetermined fate.

And not only were my illnesses healed, but also those things which were difficult to understand, those things which were difficult to enter into or penetrate, and which until then I had been unable to grasp with my hands or feet, or get my teeth into. I now penetrated them intuitively, right to their roots and down to their depths.

And I have experienced this joy six or seven times. Besides all this, I have forgotten just how many times I have experienced ‘little visions’ — those joys which make one dance.

For the first time, I realised the meaning of the words: ‘The eighteen great enlightenments of wonderful joy, and the little joys which are without number.’ In truth, I have not been deceived.

Zen Master Hakuin

The Eighteen Great Enlightenments of Wonderful Joy,
by Zen Master Hakuin, from The Embossed Tea Kettle: Orate Gama and other works of Hakuin Zenji, ISBN 9780946672332, 2021 (new edition), with thanks to Buddhist Publishing Group.

Available from and


Hakuin Ekaku’s Willow Kannon
From Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Hakuin Ekaku Willow KannonThe Bodhisattva of Compassion sits in Zen meditation, her legs crossed and eyes slightly opened in accordance with Zen practice. Her face is suffused with kindness. Her name is Kannon; the willow to her right signals that she is the Willow Kannon, evoking both her strength and flexibility. As with all Zen portraits, the face is the key element: while her body is brushed in quick, broad, almost light-hearted or humorous strokes, her face and hair are depicted in meticulous detail to highlight her compassionate expression.

This large and magnificent masterwork is by Hakuin, the greatest Zen Master of the last 500 years and also Japan’s greatest painter-monk. All Zen practice in Japan today descends from Hakuin’s unique methodology for instructing Zen students in their search for Enlightenment (Satori). Hakuin did not take up the brush until he was almost 60 years old; his entire body of work was produced between his 60th year and his death at 83. This work is from his prime “middle period,” when he was in his 70s.

More from Los Angeles LACMA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd.,
Los Angeles,
CA 90036
With thanks to © MUSEUM ASSOCIATES 2021

Categories: Buddhism, Buddhist Insights, Buddhist meditation, Chan / Seon / Zen, Zen Master Hakuin

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1 reply

  1. Beautiful wisdom 🙏🏻🌿


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