Mu Calligraphy, by Mutoku Ryogo
A flower grows out of a dead tree. By Mutoku, 80 years old
Mu means void, nothing, emptiness. "First comes overwhelming death. Then, much later, after all problems and delusions have come to an end, when the time is ripe, suddenly the flower of wisdom blooms". This sentence refers to a famous zen koan, a paradoxical instruction given by the master to his disciple in order to lead him beyond rational thinking.
About Mutoku Ryogo (1651-1742)
He was born in Aizu. As a child he joined the monastery at Tianning Temple and subsequently became a follower of Yoshie Rihoku of Kichijoji in Tokyo. He travelled all over the world and studied both the Soto, Rinzai and Obaku schools of Zen Buddhism. He later chose to follow the Soto school and became a disciple of Haiyan Jun, from whom he received the Dharma transmission. Following the invitation of Nagato Mori, he lived at Taineiji and founded different temples. His 62 disciples included Muin Dohi and together they formed the Mutoku school. He passed away in 1742.