Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Sesshu Toyo

                 Some maintain that the greatest Japanese artist of all time was Sesshu Toyo who was enrolled at a Zen monastery near his home while still a child. His training was both spiritual and secular. A popular tale about his childhood, however, suggests that his inclination was towards the latter. It is related that on one occasion he was tied to a pillar in the meditation hall for some infraction of monastic discipline—possibly for spending more time drawing than meditating. When the allotted time for the punishment had elapsed, a monk came to the hall to release Sesshu and was startled to see a rat by the boy’s foot. The monk sought to chase it away before it bit the child, only to discover that the rodent had been drawn on the floor mat with ink made from Sesshu’s tears mixed with dust.

[Sesshu Toyo – Zen Masters of Japan: 147-49]

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