Joshu is one of those exceptional people who become enlightened without any formal initiation. They are nobody’s disciple. It is a very exceptional case. But the story of Joshu is going to be very beautiful. His each statement is so poetic, so pregnant, that unless you listen in utter silence, you will miss its fragrance, its meaning, its penetrating insight into reality.
Joshu is one of the most loved masters in the Zen tradition. There have been great masters, but nobody has been loved so much as Joshu — and he deserved it. His working on people, on disciples, was so soft, so delicate, that only a poet can manage it… a great craftsmanship in carving buddhas out of the stones of humanity.
Every man is just a big rock. It needs a craftsman, a great artist, a sculptor, who with loving hands removes all that is unessential and leaves only that which is absolutely essential. That absolutely essential is our buddha.
– Joshu: The Lion’s Roar, Chapter #1
JOSHU: THE LION’S ROAR — is also a milestone in the history of consciousness, a tremendously brave man who created roaring lions, buddhas of great strength and power.
He was a disciple of Nansen, but he was always a category in himself. He never became a disciple to Nansen formally; he was never initiated by Nansen; but he lived with Nansen, loved Nansen, and Nansen loved him, showered him with his love. Everybody knew that if Nansen died, he would choose Joshu to be his successor, although he was not his follower. He was such a unique person in himself, he could not follow anybody. He was a fellow traveler.
– Nansen: The Point of Departure, Chapter #10
At the age of sixty, Joshu started. You can start any time, and this has always been my feeling. Joshu lived so long — he lived one hundred and twenty years — he must have lived one hundred and twenty years, because he started at the age of sixty. And when you start meditating, you become so fresh and young, you can simply live long without any effort.
– Returning to the Source, Chapter #2