LETTING GO: The Story of Zen Master Tosui, translated and with an introduction by Peter Haskel. Honolulu: Hawaii University Press, 2001, 168 pp. with woodcuts, $45 (cloth), $19.95 (paper)

Tosui Unkei, the beloved and eccentric 17th-century Zen master, was, like Ikkyu Sojin 200 years before him, a decided maverick. He rejected the monastic world for a life among the common folk, and had no respect for the Buddhist church as it then was. Turning his back on abbothood, he hired himself out as a servant, worked as both a palanquin carrier and a pack-horse driver, and later became a beggar, giving the day’s proceeds to those even poorer than himself.

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