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Hakuin Ekaku

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(1685–1768)

Mid-Edo period Zen priest of the Rinzai School; calligrapher and painter. Hakuin began his religious training with the Zen master Tanrei Soden at Shōinji temple in today’s Shizuoka Prefecture. Spending many years as a traveling monk, he eventually rose to the position of abbot of the eminent Zen temple Myōshinji in Kyoto in 1718. Hakuin played a vital role in reviving the declining Rinzai School and in spreading Zen Buddhism among a wide public. Hakuin’s humorous paintings and his expressive, bold calligraphy served to illustrate his religious teachings to an often-illiterate audience of commoners. In modern times both came to be highly regarded for their unique aesthetic qualities.

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