HAKUIN Ekaku (1685–1768)
Venerate the 100 seal script characters for longevity [kotobuki]; each one is a lotus pedestal of the marvellous law, a source of miraculous, unsurpassed magic and a picture of the golden body of a Buddha.
Those who bow, respect and believe in them will avoid thunder and fires, be safe from the seven disasters, and bring forth sevenfold good fortune.
The old monk Hakuin, under the trees of nirvana [ie, near death] 83 years old, burns incense and prostrates nine times 1767,seventh month, an auspicious daystudents (and future generations) with a powerful visual image to be remembered by. Even though he was dying, ‘longevity’ –life lived to its fullest – was a final statement.
The artist Hakuin Ekaku is considered one of Japan’s most influential Zen monks both for his teachings and his art. He knew as a small child that he wanted to be a monk and left home to join a monastery at age fourteen. His studies included religion, the Confucian classics, literature and calligraphy. In his twenties he
was adept at brushwork, yet after viewing a piece of calligraphy by a Zen master he is said to have burnt his brushes and painting manuals in the realisation that inner character and an enlightened mind were required to produce exceptional calligraphy. He didn’t pursue art again until he was in his sixties and went on to complete more than one thousand calligraphies and paintings before his death at eighty-four.