The Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng is a Zen hero. His life and teaching convey the message that Zen enlightenment is open to anyone, even an illiterate rice pounder. No matter where one is, regardless of one's gender, education, or occupation the opportunity exists for Zen awakening. The realization "Originally not one thing" is said to be the source of Hui-neng's enlightenment, but as the inscription indicates, he demolishes that notion—any notion—as something limited and confining. Hui-neng, painted by an artist named Plum Cloud, portrays the rice pounder/patriarch jauntily setting about his Zen business.
Jakushitsu was a Soto Zen monk. He became an acolyte at the age of ten, and later became a dharma brother of the eccentric zenga artist Chingyu. Like many Soto Zen monks, he spent most of his career serving successively† as abbot at temples scattered all over the country. Jakushitsu wrote a travelogue,†A Visit to the Saiko District,†that was well regarded for its careful description of the places he traveled to and the poems he wrote about each place. Jakushitsu was an excellent poet and calligrapher.