Shobogenzo Katto 4: Huike Cuts off His Arm

Shobogenzo Katto 4: Huike Cuts off His Arm

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  1. This painting depicts a famous anecdote of Zen Buddhism. When Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen Buddhism, was meditating facing a rock wall in Shaolin-si Temple, the monk Huike came and asked to be accepted as his disciple. When Bodhidharma rejected the young priest, however, Huike chopped off his left arm to prove his firm determination to the master. He was then accepted as a disciple. The realistic facial expressions, the sharp eyes and the static composition give an atmosphere of tension to the scene. These depictions may suggest the advanced state of spiritual awareness that had been achieved by seventy-seven year old priest-artist Sesshu.

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