Gesshū Sōko

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Gesshū Sōko
School Sōtō
Born 1618
Died 1696
Senior posting
Title Zen Master

Gesshū Sōko (1618–1696) was a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher and a member of the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan. He studied under teachers of the lesser known, and more strictly monastic, Obaku School of Zen and contributed to a reformation of Sōtō monastic codes. As a result, he is sometimes given the title "The Revitalizer".[1]

He is known for his calligraphy[2] as well as his poetry, including his death poem:

Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight --
Thus I return to the source.[3]

Gesshū Sōko passed Dharma transmission to Zen Master Manzan Dōhaku who went on to restore the strong master-disciple bond in Sōtō Zen.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Still Point - Newsletter of Dharma Rain Zen Center". XXV (1). Portland, Oregon. January–February 2000. 
  2. ^ Stevens, John. Sacred Calligraphy of the East, third edition. 
  3. ^ Hoffmann, Yoel (1986). Japanese Death Poems: Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death. Tuttle Publishing.