Muso Soseki (1275-1351) was a Rinzai Zen Buddhist monk and teacher, and a calligraphist, poet and garden designer. The most famous monk of his time, he is also known as Muso Kokushi ("national Zen teacher"), a honorific conferred to him by Emperor Go-Daigo. Thomas Yuho Kirchner was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1949. He went to Japan in 1969 to attend Waseda University in Tokyo for a year, after which he remained in Japan to study Buddhism. He spent three years training under Yamada Mumon as a lay monk at Shofuku-ji before receiving ordination in 1974. Following ordination he practiced under Minato Sodo Roshi at Kencho-ji in Kamakura and Kennin-ji in Kyoto. Following graduate studies in Buddhism at Otani University he worked at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture in Nagoya and subsequently at the Hanazono University International Research Institute for Zen Buddhism. He presently lives at Tenryu-ji in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Among his publications are the Record of Linji, Dialogues in a Dream, and Entangling Vines.
"Muso Soseki was a towering figure in the early history of Japanese Zen. The luminous gardens he designed remain on view in Kyoto, and now we have this excellent record of Muso's major writing. Tom Kirchner presents this text skillfully, with useful annotation and introduction, matching his exemplary volumes Tangling Vines and Record of Linji. Muso's teachings are valuable as an historical document, framed as dialogues with the shogun, and providing deep insights into traditional Buddhist and Zen lore. His teachings also offer gems of helpful spiritual support still relevant today. Muso warns of many available sidetracks and obstacles to clear awareness, how even 'wisdom can lead to confusion.' He clarifies the need to study the intent rather than the words, but how also studying words is necessary for beneficial guidance. These words from Muso Soseki still have power to shepherd contemporary students of the Way."--Taigen Dan Leighton, author of Zen Questions