Hakuin Ekaku Japanese

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This oversize rendition of the character for “virtue” (toku 徳) reflects the exuberant spiritual energy projected by Ekaku, who was one of the foremost proponents of the revival of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism in late Edo-period Japan. Originally composed by Chinese historian and Confucian scholar Sima Guang (1018–1086), the inscription reads:

If you pile up money for your children and grandchildren,
they won’t be able to hold onto it.
If you pile up books for your children and grandchildren,
they won’t read any of them.
No, the best thing to do is to quietly accumulate virtue,
in the spiritual realm.
Such a gift will benefit your descendants
for a long, long time.
—Trans. adapted from Jonathan Chaves

Virtue, Hakuin Ekaku (Japanese, 1686–1769), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, Japan

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