Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Humanities, PhD

Committee Chair

Allen, Annette C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gibson, John

Committee Member

Harris, Albert

Committee Member

Pranke, Patrick

Committee Member

Chan, Ying Kit


Zen Buddhism; Hakuin, 1686-1769; Zen art


When people think of a Zen kōan, they probably think of Hakuin’s “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” This is appropriate as Hakuin’s ministry has become such an important part of Rinzai Zen that all current masters trace their lineage to him. In this paper, I hope to illuminate one of the reasons that Hakuin became so influential in his time and in the history of Japanese Zen. I argue that Hakuin was a charismatic teacher that used the technological innovations of woodblock printing and the wealth of some of his students to duplicate and disseminate his paintings and writings for free to a wide audience of lay people and monks, effectively solidifying his teaching as doctrinal. Despite the caricature of the Zen master as aloof, antisocial, and perhaps humorless, I hope to show Hakuin as charming, funny, engaged, and perhaps tech-savvy in his cultural context.