Mugaku Sogen

13th century Zen Buddhist monk

Mugaku Sogen (無学祖元), also known as Bukko Kokushi (September 3, 1226 – September 22, 1286) was a prominent Zen Buddhist monk of the 13th century in Japan, an emigre from Song dynasty China.


  • Cutting the Spring Breeze
    Throughout heaven and earth there is not a piece of ground where a single stick could be inserted;
    I am glad that all things are void, myself and the world:
    Honored be the sword, three feet long, wielded by the great Yüan swordsmen;
    For it is like cutting a spring breeze in a flash of lightning.
    • Dumonlin Heinrich, ‎Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. Essays in Zen Buddhism, first series. 2000.p. 255

Quotes about Mugaku Sogen

  • Hogo acquired importance as a calligraphic art expressing the personality and the cultural attainments of the zen priest writer... Typical of such is the hogo written by Mugaku Sogen (1226-1286) and presented to Ichio Ingo, ( -1281).
    • Japan Quarterly, Volume 17, 1970. p. 163
  • When the Japanese Zen priest Mugaku Sogen (1226-1286) was in China and threatened by invading Mongol troops, he composed a fourline poem. Years later another Zen priest, Sesson Yūbai (1290-1347), when he was in prison and threatened with death, took Mugaku's poem and, using each line as the opening verse of a new poem,
    • Donald Keene. Anthology of Japanese Literature, from the Earliest Era to the Mid. p. 347
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