Biography Mumon, Yamada 無文 山田 (1900 - 1988)
Yamada Mumon Rôshi was born in 1900 in a small mountain village in Japan.
See more paintings from this artist!
First he started a law study but later he gave up his studies because he felt a greater need to question the meaning of life. It was then that Ekai Kawaguchi Rôshi, the first Japanese Zen Master ever to have entered Tibet, gave a lecture on “The Way of the Bodhisattva” which left a profound impression on Mumon Rôshi. He decided to dedicate himself to the practice of Zen under the guidance of Ekai Kawagushi Rôshi. Soon after, however, he contracted tuberculosis, which the doctors pronounced incurable. He lived in seclusion for two years, waiting for death to come. Then one day he felt able to get up from his bed and, as he opened the window to let in the cool morning air, he was suddenly made conscious of the presence of a great stream of energy permeating everything, an energy that had always been within him. He translated this shattering experience into the following poem:
All things are embraced
Within the universal mind
Told by the cool wind
This experience was the beginning of his recovery and soon afterwards he met a priest who cured him within three months. After he had recovered, he could again dedicate himself entirely to the practice of Zen in the Myôshin-ji and Tenryu-ji monasteries under Seki Seisetsu. At the age of 51, Yamada Mumon Rôshi became the head of the Shofuku-ji monastery in Kobe and in addition, the Superior of some three thousand temples and monasteries. He was an uncompromising teacher who devoted his entire energy to helping others, giving lectures and writing books. Mumon Rôshi consumed his life fulfilling this pursuit with the simplicity and forcefulness of a saint. He was given the name of “the Hakuin of modern times”. During the last years of his life, he continued to teach through his calligraphy, though he was a very sick man at the time. He passed away at age 88 after executing a calligraphy named “Poem before death”:
For the liberation of all beings
At the end of the day nothing remains to be said
No word (Jap. mumon), no form
There is but the abandonment of all things that fills heaven and earth.
See also paintingss from Seisetsu, Seki 精拙 関 (1877-1945)