Jakushitsu, Jakushitsu poetry, Buddhist, Buddhist poetry, Zen / Chan poetry,  poetry,  poetry Jakushitsu
Japan (1290 - 1367) Timeline
Buddhist : Zen / Chan

Poems by Jakushitsu

Jakushitsu Genko was a medieval Japanese Zen master of the Rinzai school.

Jakushitsu was born into an aristocratic family during a period of unrest and political instability in Japan. At the age of 12, he was sent to a monastery in Kyoto. Monasteries were often the best place to receive a good education. While Jakushitsu was a boy, he apparently did not have a strong religious vocation, but a meeting with a visiting Zen monk deeply impressed him. The monk's focused meditation, along with his peace and wisdom, inspired the young Jakushitsu and he decided to dedicate himself to Zen practice.

As a young monk, Jakushitsu traveled to China to study Ch'an (Zen) practice with several well-respected masters. When he eventually returned to Japan, he spent many years as a wandering hermit, preferring contemplation in remote locations far from the major cities.

He gained a reputation for his asceticism, upholding traditional Zen/Ch'an practices and ideals, as well as for his genial nature, his flute playing... and his poetry.

In the final few years of his life, he was coaxed by a local lord to settle down and become a teacher and spiritual guide to other monks. Eigen-ji temple was built for him and he became its first abbot.

As did other Zen monks, Jakushitsu questioned at times the value of writing poetry. Why pursue words, when one truly seeks silence? Yet he kept returning to his poetry, which has come to be recognized as being among the finest examples of Zen poetry handed down to us.

Poems by Jakushitsu

Recommended Books: Jakushitsu

A Quiet Room: The Poetry of Zen Master Jakushitsu Zen Masterclass: A Graduated Course in Zen Wisdom from Traditional Masters The Roaring Stream: A New Zen Reader