Hisamatsu Shin’ichi (1887–1980)

  • Zen master, Zen artist, Zen philosopher

    Hisamatsu Shin'ichi lived in the Myoshinji Zen monastery compound for decades and taught Buddhism at the University of Kyoto. He saw and practised art as an important expression of awakening.

    The calligraphy of Hisamatsu and other great Zen masters has a particular charm and is held in high esteem. Their brushes seem to dance over the paper, challenging convention - spontaneous, unaffected and breathlessly ego-less.

    Hisamatsu's poem speaks to human beings who are fettered and long to be completely free. Not just the clothes must be abandoned but even one's body, one's mind, one's ego, everything. True freedom can only be found when one strips it all off in the “falling away of body-and-mind” and “ego-lessness”: the breakthrough to the limitless and the end of all longing.

    Go, go, go!
    Right on, let's dance!
    Yes dance, completely naked -
    What do you have to lose?
    The nakedness of our youth
    Does not go far enough:
    Unless you liberate yourself completely
    You'll forever be encaged.

    Away with the white underwear
    The black, the red trousers:
    Hey, take it off, take off everything -
    Your body, too, and then your mind:
    Away with them, let everything go!
    Yes, dance, dance, without a thread
    Go now, let go! Go!