K545 Daruma and the Second Patriarch by Ōtsuka Dōgai 大塚洞外

Deep in the snow at Shōrin
Daruma faced the wall of his cave in total silence;
Eka sacrificed his arm to find the Dharma,
Never giving up his single minded determination.

An auspicious day, Year of the Water Ram [1943], at White Cloud Mountain
Respectfully painted by the old monk Dōgai


Ōtsuka Dōgai (大塚洞外, 1891-1964)

K545 hanging scroll, sumi on paper 25.5 cm × 38.5 cm.


This is a fine depiction of a central event in Zen lore: Rock-like Daruma meditating in his cave, seemingly oblivious to Eka (恵可, Hui-ko, n.d.) standing outside in the snow. (It is found in case 41 of the Mumonkan, and the painting of the scene by Sesshū is world-renowned.) Eka was a dedicated Buddhist monk who trained under many of the senior teachers—both Hinayana and Mahayana—in China, but he remained unsatisfied. During a vision, he was told to go south to find a true master. When he found Bodhidharma meditating in his cave at Shōrin (Shao-lin) Eka asked the Zen master for guidance but was rudely turned away, Bodhidharma telling him, “You have little virtue and too much self-conceit, so why should I teach you?”. It was winter, and Eka stood in the snow all night outside his cave. Finally, he severed his arm and presented it to Bodhidharma. “Please pacify my mind, oh Master,” Eka pleaded. “Bring me your mind and I will pacify it for you,” the Master said. “I have searched and searched, and I cannot take hold of it,” Eka replied. “See,” the old master told him, “I have already pacified it for you.” Despite the grim nature of the scene, Bodhidharma was telling a cosmic joke, and thereafter Zen masters have often resorted to humor to enlighten their students. Bodhidharma went on to designate Eka as his successor, and thus Eka became known as the “Second Patriarch.”