113 minutes | Mar 18th 2019

EPISODE 45 Sex, Sake and Zen: The Life of Ikkyu Sojun (Part 1)

So many History on Fire episodes feature incredibly violent pages from humanity’s past. This is not one of those episodes. The hero of our tale was too busy enjoying life in 15th century Japan to join the civil wars raging around him or to go around killing people. As the illegitimate son of the Emperor of Japan, Ikkyu Sojun experienced the harsh side of life from the moment he was born, but always looked for a way not to let it spoil his good mood. His main passions (in no particular order) were Zen Buddhism, sex and drinking. And in the midst of the endless party that was in life, he managed to have a tremendously powerful impact on Japanese culture. In this episode, we will tackle the odd phenomenon of people being more comfortable with warfare and violence than sex, how Tom Robbins introduced me to Ikkyu, Sovannahry’s Ikkyu painting (the first thing I see every morning), the odd circumstances of Ikkyu’s birth, a history of Zen, Ikkyu’s training and attempted suicide, Ikkyu’s burning of his ‘certificate of enlightenment’, his clashes with the Zen establishment, Jack London’s Call of the Wild, becoming ‘the Crazy Cloud’, Drukpa Kunley and his… ehm… ‘flaming thunderbolt of wisdom’…
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