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OneIndia, July 19, 2009
Ryonen a Buddhist nun was born in 1797. She was the granddaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen
Tokyo, Japan -- Ryonen's bewitching beauty and poetic genius paved way to serve the empress as one of the ladies of the court when she was barely seventeen years of age.
However the sudden demise of the beloved empress awakened her to the impermanence of things. She hence desired to study Zen.
However her wish was brushed aside as her relatives pushed her into getting married. Ryonen assented for the marriage with the condition that after the birth of three children, she would go on her way to study Zen. Ryonen did leave home after the birth of three children before she was twenty five. With her relatives and husband unable to dissuade her in her venture, Ryonen set out to learn Zen.
Ryonen on her embarkment to learn Zen, came to the city of Edo and requested Tetsugyu to accept her as a disciple. Her request however was turned down by the master at one glance at her beauty. Ryonen then went yo master Hakuo who also rejected her saying that her beauty could only cause trouble. Ryonen in her staunch determination to study Zen, placed a hot iron rod her face burning away her beauty in an instant. Hakuo then accepted her as his disciple.
Ryonen then wrote a poem, commemorating the incident on the back of a little mirror.
In the service of my Empress I burned incense to
perfume my exquisite clothes
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to
enter a Zen temple.
Ryonen, when she was about to pass away wrote another poem:
Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing
scene of autumn
I have said enough about moonlight, Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no