Title:The Buddhist Layman VimalakirtiArtist:Ekaku Hakuin Date:Edo periodCreation Place:JapanCredit Line:Gift of the Yabashi FamilyAccession Number:2002.226.2
Japanese Buddhists widely credit the priest Hakuin Ekaku for having revitalized the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism in Japan during the 18th century. Today, hundreds of Rinzai masters trace their spiritual lineage to Hakuin. He was a dynamic teacher and prolific author, and over the course of his long life he also produced hundreds of powerful paintings and calligraphies. Here, he represented Vimalakirti, an Indian layman who lived at the same time as the historic Buddha. Renowned for his wisdom, Vimalakirti is said to have matched the bodhisattva Manjusri in a debate about the nature of non-duality. Consequently, Vimalakirti came to symbolize the potential for enlightenment in everyone, not just monks. The Vimalakirti Sutra, a text about Vimalakirti’s teachings, is one of the most popular scriptures in all Buddhist literature.