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Takuan Sōhō

Takuan Sōhō. Japanese Zen master of the Rinzai school, Sōhō (1573–1645). He became a monk as a boy, and received the seal of recognition (inka-shōmei) from Mindō Kokyō. He became abbot of Daitoku-ji in Kyōto under orders in 1609, but retired after three days. Much later he was first abbot of Takai-ji in 1638. Famous for his skill in the ways of calligraphy (shōdō) and tea ceremony (chadō), he also, in Fudochi Shimmyō-roku, explored the relation between the way of the sword (kendō) and the mental disposition of a Zen practitioner. He became known as ‘the naked monk’, since he had only one robe, and when he washed it, he remained in his room.

His writings were many, including poetry, but little has been translated. He explored in particular the meaning of Confucian thought in relation to Zen.

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