The inscription, a long poem in Chinese, is rather difficult, but it means in essence that Zen must be experienced with all the senses, on all levels. Zen is not a theory, and this Daruma gazes directly at us, demanding that we confront the mysteries of existence right here, right now.
Matsuoka Kankei was born in Aichi Prefecture. He was Dharma heir of the illustrious master Nishiyama Kasan. Kankei was a scholar-monk, acting as president of Rinzai University (present-day Hanazono University) for a time, and he also was abbot of Sengai's home temple of Sofuku-ji in Kyushu. Although a member of the Myoshin-ji Zen establishment, Kankei was elected Abbot of Daitoku-ji 1932, but he succumbed to illness before assuming that post. Kankei was good with a brush but works by him are rather rare.