(1323 - 1390)
A Japanese Rinzai monk of the Ashikaga period, Mumon Gensen was born in Kyoto, the son of Emperor Go-daigo. He entered Buddhist orders at age seven, and at eighteen entered the Zen monastery Kennin-ji. In 1384, Gensen founded a Rinzai Zen monastery in Totomi. Shortly before his death at the age of sixty-eight, Gensen is said to have recited two poems, one of which read, “Life is an ever-rolling wheel / And every day is the right one. / He who recites poems at his death / Adds frost to snow.” The writing or speaking of a poem while on the verge of death served as inspiration to a Zen master’s disciples and often articulated an acceptance of one’s fate.