The inscription is the first two lines of the Zen battle cry. The next two verses—"[Zen] points directly to the human heart, / See inside and become Buddha"— are not written but represented by the portrait of Daruma.
In terms of output and quality, Tesshu was the greatest of samurai Zen artists. He was a master of the sword, the brush, and Zen and, although he died at the young age of fifty-two, he produced well over a million pieces of Zen art. He ranks as one of the finest calligraphers in Asia, and his work is treasured.
See The Sword of No-Sword by John Stevens (Shambhala, 2001) for a complete biography of this martial-arts hero.