The Zen Garden (Week 4)

I was walking down Boston ave late Tuesday night in the rainy dark and was not properly dressed for the weather.

wet steps

white noise

headlights race by

After completing this weeks drawing I continued to contemplate the image. For me, the Zen garden is the best representation of Japanese Buddhism by “mixing the transcendental and here-and-now forms” (Lecture 2/11). It’s inherently a very visual representation of faith, a hallmark of Japanese Buddhism. Japanese practice of Buddhism is dominated by visual, practical and ritual elements, rather than doctrinal, and this is very evident in Atsumori, a play (intended to be a visual experience) that revolves around the prayers of a guilty priest. In the case of the garden, the process is just as important, if not more important that the product we used as this weeks drawing image. It is “a way of spiritual experience,” and effectively “transforms art into a contemplative experience” (Merton 89, 90). By blurring the lines between the art, life, and spirituality, the abstract can be rendered concrete and both the here-and-now and the metaphysical can be experienced, or combined. These concepts attached to the garden help me understand Inouye’s statement “it is possible to establish an order that has only tenuous ties to a specific definable metaphysical reality yet still performs the important function of giving form,” an idea I had difficulty wrapping my mind around earlier (Inouye 60). The fact that sand (or potentially gravel in the case of this image) is “the most shapeless of materials,” gives the creation of form even more significance (Inouye, 64). Personally, the image of the Zen garden tied a lot of concepts we’ve discussed in class together.

Nicholas Economos

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One Response to The Zen Garden (Week 4)

  1. Avatar of Michael  Chu Michael Chu says:

    I like how you use the Zen garden to tie all the concepts together. The garden itself also cleared up a lot of confusion I had about here-and-now. Nice haiku too! I was drenched on Tuesday too, so I can see where you’re coming from.

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