Mutterings to the Wall


This paper takes up Hadot’s call for more comparative work on Buddhism and Philosophy as a Way of Life by comparing Zen Master Hakuin Ekaku’s artwork Pilgrims with the graffiti artist Banksy’s The Street is in Play. Beyond the striking similarities in form and apparent tongue-in-cheek criticism of graffiti, this paper explains the context of Hakuin’s artwork and the text of his painting before exploring the importance of graffiti in the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. I argue that by taking up Hadot’s call for more comparative work we find that Hakuin’s Zen bears fruitful points of comparison with Hadot’s account of philosophy as a way of life. Furthermore, a comparison of the two artworks of Banksy and Hakuin helps us better understand both figures via thematic elements of humor and socially disruptive writings.


Hakuin, Zen, Banksy, graffiti, Hadot, philosophy as a way of life, Spiritual Exercise, Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch

How to cite:

Taylor, Kevin C. “Mutterings to the Wall.” Eidos. A Journal for Philosophy of Culture 6, no. 3 (2022):  98-115. https://doi.org/10.14394/eidos.jpc.2022.0027.


Kevin C. Taylor
Department of Philosophy, University of Memphis
Memphis, TN 38152, USA


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