Zen / Mahayana
The Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, of which Zen is an important expression (along with Chinese Chan and Korean Soen), arose sometime around the first century C.E. in South India and spread throughout Asia. It is characterized by the ideal of the bodhisattva: the compassionate being whose desire for enlightenment isn’t an individual quest but includes all other sentient beings as well.
Ryokan (1758–1831) is, along with Dogen and Hakuin, one of the three giants of Zen in Japan. But unlike his two renowned colleagues, Ryokan was a societal dropout, living mostly as a hermit and a beggar. He was never head of a monastery or temple. He liked playing with children. He had no dharma heir. Even so, people recognized the depth of his realization, and he was sought out by… Read More
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When a Zen master puts brush to paper, the resulting image is an expression of the quality of his or her mind. It is thus a teaching, intended to compassionately stop us in our tracks and to compel us to consider ultimate truth. Here, forty masterpieces of painting and calligraphy by renowned masters such as Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768) and Gibon Sengai (1750–1837) are reproduced along with commentary that illuminates… Read More
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The ensō is one of the most prevalent images of Zen art, and it has become a kind of symbol of the clean and strong Japanese aesthetic. It has been subject to a rich variety of interpretations—seen as everything from a rice cake to a symbol of infinity. But regardless of how it is understood, the ensō is above all an expression of the mind of the artist who brushes… Read More
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