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Musō Soseki

Musō Soseki, also known as Shōkaku Kokushi and as Musō Kokushi (1275–1351). A leading Zen monk of the Rinzai school during the Five Mountain, Ten Temple period, based on Kyōto and Kamakura. In a time of conflict, seven emperors bestowed the title of kokụshi on him, and he did much to integrate Buddhism into Japanese culture, especially in Kyōto. Nevertheless, much about his own life is obscure. He travelled widely, until, in 1305, he was walking on a dark night, and stopped to think: he leant against a wall that was not there, and as he fell, so did his darkness. Eventually (and reluctantly) he was appointed abbot of Nanzen-ji in Kyōto, and although he still moved on several occasions, he remained close to the reform and rebuilding of Rinzai Zen, a legacy from which remains in his rules for monasteries, Rinsen kakun, Sanʾe-in yuikai, and Saihō yuikai.

In his teaching, he refused to endorse the growing division between sūtra and kōan methods, believing the means are determined by the capacity of the student. He employed the term shōgyoku as a virtual equivalent to upāya.

Among many works, his Muchū-mondō shū (Dialogue in a Dream) explains Zen Buddhism in response to questions from the Shogun.

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