The Moon at My Window
What Is But Could Not Be
Ryōkan and Whitehead
Ryōkan Taigu (良寛大愚) (1758–1831) was a quiet and eccentric Sōtō Zen Buddhist monk who lived much of his life as a hermit. Ryōkan is remembered for his poetry and calligraphy, which present the essence of Zen life.
The Japanese master and poet, Daigu Ryokan (1758-1831), lived most of his life in a simple mountainside hut.
One evening a thief visited Ryōkan's hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. "You have come a long way to visit me," he told the prowler, "and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift." The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, "I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon." This story may be an interpretation of an account mentioned by Ryōkan in a haiku:
Whenever there is consciousness there is some element of recollection.
The meaning of 'givenness' is that what is 'given' might not have been 'given,' and that what is not 'given' might have been 'given."