Nansen is one of the most famous zen masters. Many stories are told about him; one I have been telling you many times. I will repeat it again, because stories like that are to be repeated again and again, so that you can imbibe them
These stories — they are a nourishment.
– And The Flowers Showered, Chapter #11
After Bodhidharma, Nansen is a new point of departure. He opens Zen to a wider variety, he gives Zen more dimensions. It is no more a small stream, but becomes an ocean.
When a man like Nansen lives in a temple, then the rafters and the tiles also become something divine, something sacred, but not sacred against the secular. Nansen has joined the earth with the sky.
My love for Nansen is immense because of this understanding that the earth and the sky are not separate — are not separateable. And both should be enjoyed.
I have called this series NANSEN: THE POINT OF DEPARTURE. From the past spirituality Nansen is a tremendous departure, accepting secular and sacred as together, one — two aspects of one reality.
– Nansen: The Point of Departure, Chapter #1
Nansen is a meeting of Buddha and Lao Tzu, the meeting of Buddhism and Taoism, and Zen is the meeting of all that is beautiful in Buddha and all that is beautiful in Lao Tzu. That’s why there is nothing like Zen, because two streams, tremendously powerful, tremendously beautiful, utterly of the Unknown, came to a meeting. There has never been such a meeting.
Zen is absolutely earthbound. Buddha is like the sky, and Lao Tzu is like the earth, and where earth and sky meet, there is Zen. This Nansen is the meeting of the earth and the sky. Buddha is like wings, and Lao Tzu is like roots, and this Nansen is like a tree with both roots and wings. Rare reality — the earth, the solid earth, meets the inner sky.
– Returning to the Source, Chapter #3
Nansen was one of the greats. I count him with Gautam Buddha, Mahakashyap, Bodhidharma, Joshu, Hyakujo. There have been thousands of masters, but Nansen will still stand out with his own beauty, uniqueness. He became so well known to the people that the very mountain where he had a small cottage is now called Mount Nansen.
– This, This, A Thousand Times This: The Very Essence of Zen, Chapter #3