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Muso Soseki: Born ten years after Dante, in 1275, Muso Soseki was the most famous Zen monk of his time, and is considered the father of the rock garden. Muso began studying Buddhism at the age of six, and he spent much of his early life practicing Zen in remote temples and hermitages. In spite of this isolation, Muso's reputation grew, and he served as an advisor and teacher to several emperors, as well as to more than 13,000 students, over the course of his lifetime. In his old age, Muso again withdrew from court life and devoted himself to the study of Buddha dharma, spending much of his time cultivating the Zen gardens for which he is best known. Muso died in 1351, leaving behind numerous gardens and an enormous body of poetry and prose. In honor of his influence over Japanese politics and culture, Muso was posthumously renamed Muso Kokushi, or national Zen teacher, by the Japanese Emperor Go-Daigo. W.S. Merwin: W.S. Merwin, U.S. Poet Laureate from 2010-11, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry twice, most recently for "The Shadow of Sirius" (Copper Canyon, 2009), and the National Book Award for "Migration: New and Selected Poems" (Copper Canyon, 2005). Author and translator of over fifty books, Mr. Merwin lives in Hawaii and France. Soiku Shigematsu: Soiku Shigematsu is a Zen scholar, poet, and translator. His past translations include "A Zen Forest: Sayings of the Masters" and "A Zen Harvest: Japanese Folk Zen Sayings." Shigematsu has been honored with the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from "The American Poetry Review." In addition to his work as a translator, Shigematsu writes free-verse poetry in Japanese. He has also taught at Shizuoka University, San Diego State University, UC Davis, and Kansai Medical University. Simegatsu now serves as the abbot of Shogen-ji Temple in Shimizu, Japan.