Sermon Preached by Daito Kokushi


Sermon Preached by Daito Kokushi

calligraphy / Muromachi

By Ikkyu Sojun (1394-1481)

Muromachi period, 15th century

Ink on paper


Daito Kokushi was a prominent Zen priest of the Rinzai sect who was active around the 14th century. He is also known as Shuho Myocho, the founder of Daitoku-ji temple in Kyoto.
This is a formal sermon on Buddhist teachings. These were given by head priests at Zen temples. As such, they carried a lot of weight with Zen priests. It was traditional for sermons to begin with the Chinese character pronounced ‘kyo (挙),’ as seen in this example. After outlining the theme of the sermon, the speaker would expound on Buddhist law using words borrowed from Buddhist scripture. This work exudes a sense of intimacy, as if Shuho Myocho is speaking directly to us through the scroll.
It was written out by Ikkyu Sojun, the 47th head priest of Daitoku-ji. The vigorous, unrestrained writing style reflects Ikkyu's personality and the rebellious way he lived in accordance with his own beliefs.

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