While Daruma symbolizes no-nonsense, intense concentration, he also represents freedom from all abstract concepts and binding rules. That is, in this world, no matter how grim, we need to sport and play with reality, and not let even the worst situations get us down; such a state of being is godlike.
Reikai was a Soto Zen monk, abbot of Ryoun-ji in the hot-springs town of Hanamaki in Iwate Prefecture in northern Japan. Like many Soto Zen priests, Reikai was a good scholar but he was also a talented artist. After his temple burned down, Reikai began brushing Darumas to raise money for rebuilding. He also did portraits of Kannon, the Goddess of Compassion, and a few of Hotei, the vagabond Zen master. Reikai used a different inscription for each of his Darumas, which is highly unusual and creative. Reikai's Zen paintings are distinctive, suffused with warmth and humor. His work is among the most distinctive of twentieth-century Zen artists.