Author Topic: Zen Calligraphy  (Read 7300 times)

Offline SunnyMoni

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Zen Calligraphy
« on: February 06, 2016, 10:23:53 AM »
I assumed this is the best category for this question. I'm curious if anyone practices zen calligraphy. I know it's very different from the calligraphy general talked about here on Flourish Forum but I've been thinking a lot about how calligraphy (in my case, copperplate) is as much meditation as it is art. This led me to think about zen calligraphy. So, purely out of curiosity, do any of you practice it?
Monica

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2016, 11:11:03 AM »
Are you asking about formal Zen calligraphy done with a brush
-or-
the dovetailing of "Zen" with just about everything else - like Zentangling and Zenspirations.

Many teachers refer to the meditative feel of practice. Calligraphy can be very meditative without being Zen.

It seems like *Zen* gets tacked on to almost everything these days. Not sure how Zen masters feel about that. Maybe there is a difference between Zen and zen. Interested to see what others have to say.

If you have studied Zen meditation - or anything else - it seems logical that you would bring those teachings to whichever form of art you decide to practice.

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2016, 12:08:16 PM »
I would also be curious to know what is meant by Zen Calligraphy.

It's mostly connected to Japanese calligraphy.

"Zen" has become a shorthand signifier of something either connected to mindfulness or profound in its absurdity. Both are close enough to actual characteristics of zen practice that it's understandable. It obviously misses a whole lot of other aspects, but I've long ago gotten over it. 

Just don't get me started on Feng Shui.  :o
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Offline evjo

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2016, 01:15:20 PM »
Don't get me started on the use of the word 'Zen' as a marketing device.  Agghhh!

I studied at a zen meditation center for a few years.  This was before zen was added to the name of every type of product.  Still, there was so much misunderstanding and misuse of the word that the teacher just shrugged when it was brought to his attention.  Just as one would expect him to do.

I've done pen & ink drawings for years, long before drawing techniques were marketed with the word zen.   When someone looks at my work and says the word --- oh, wait - I meant not to get started on this rant.  Can't form coherent sentences . . . .
Ev

Offline AndyT

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2016, 01:45:15 PM »
There is most certainly a strand of calligraphy associated with Zen Buddhism, especially in Japan, and it is neither a recent development nor remotely frivolous.  Nor, for that matter, is it art.  Since what little I know about it is based on reading done decades ago or else channelled through Thomas Ingmire, I'll confine myself to saying that these are deep waters!

Offline SunnyMoni

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2016, 04:24:33 PM »
Are you asking about formal Zen calligraphy done with a brush
-or-
the dovetailing of "Zen" with just about everything else - like Zentangling and Zenspirations.

Many teachers refer to the meditative feel of practice. Calligraphy can be very meditative without being Zen.

It seems like *Zen* gets tacked on to almost everything these days. Not sure how Zen masters feel about that. Maybe there is a difference between Zen and zen. Interested to see what others have to say.

If you have studied Zen meditation - or anything else - it seems logical that you would bring those teachings to whichever form of art you decide to practice.

I'm referring to formal Zen Calligraphy associated with Zen Buddhism.

I absolutely agree with the comments on the overuse of the word zen. In this case though, I do mean true Zen Calligraphy and not more recent developments such as zentangles. (Though I'm not sure if that is a recent development. I'm not very familiar with more than just the name.)
Monica

Offline AndyT

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2016, 05:09:26 PM »
The Zentangle website has changed since I last visited - much prettier and less background information.  If memory serves there was a strong meditative undercurrent to it but that seems to have been played down now.  At any rate, I don't recall any mention of Zen with a capital Z.

Offline evjo

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2016, 06:14:18 PM »
I love what this person says, especially in the last paragraph of his post, about the use of the word zen:
      http://inwardfacingdog.blogspot.com/2009/04/zen-and-art-of-poor-word-choice.html

Now I will shut up, as this is really off-topic and not about calligraphy.
Ev

Offline SunnyMoni

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2016, 06:32:03 PM »
I love what this person says, especially in the last paragraph of his post, about the use of the word zen:
      http://inwardfacingdog.blogspot.com/2009/04/zen-and-art-of-poor-word-choice.html

Now I will shut up, as this is really off-topic and not about calligraphy.

I certainly don't disagree with you.
Monica

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2016, 09:17:58 PM »
Can't form coherent sentences . . . .

Ah, you're approaching no-mind! I've been striving for a state of no-mind for a long time. Probably not in the way Dogen would have taught, but it works for me on a Saturday night.  :)

I do appreciate calligraphy as a semi-meditative practice. I can see doing the exercises, with the repetition, as closer to a meditative practice. But as the traditional practitioners of Chan (Chinese) or Zen (Japanese) would say, anything can be a part of meditative practice if done with Right Mind and focus on the here and now. Sweeping the floor, chopping wood, practicing your Spencerian ovals. These can all be done mindfully, with full focus on the present without grasping to the past or future.


As a point of focus, calligraphy, by forcing us to "forget" all else around us, can be an effective meditational practice.

I do take Monica's question seriously, though. What was the context of your question?
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Offline SunnyMoni

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2016, 09:55:22 PM »
Can't form coherent sentences . . . .

Ah, you're approaching no-mind! I've been striving for a state of no-mind for a long time. Probably not in the way Dogen would have taught, but it works for me on a Saturday night.  :)

I do appreciate calligraphy as a semi-meditative practice. I can see doing the exercises, with the repetition, as closer to a meditative practice. But as the traditional practitioners of Chan (Chinese) or Zen (Japanese) would say, anything can be a part of meditative practice if done with Right Mind and focus on the here and now. Sweeping the floor, chopping wood, practicing your Spencerian ovals. These can all be done mindfully, with full focus on the present without grasping to the past or future.


As a point of focus, calligraphy, by forcing us to "forget" all else around us, can be an effective meditational practice.

I do take Monica's question seriously, though. What was the context of your question?

Maybe it would help if I give some background and what led to me being curious if anyone out there practices zen calligraphy. i was in a meeting discussing what if done so far on my masters thesis. While discussing some current research I came across (a study on mediation and creative thinking) with my major professor we sort of got side tracked onto the topic of meditation, which both of us are familiar with and practice. This led to talking about meditation in connection with creativity and naturally led to the topic of zen calligraphy. I left that meeting thinking about zen calligraphy and how simple yet beautiful it is. I am familiar with it but have never tried to practice the true form of zen calligraphy. So, I became curious if anyone else had especially considering I've seen discussed on here that some people think of calligraphy as being meditative in a sense yet I'd never seen reference to zen calligraphy. Mostly it was just me being curious but also because I find it so beautiful and wanted to learn more.
Monica

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2016, 10:56:55 PM »
The only zen calligraphy I know of is brush and ink Japaneseor Chinese calligraphy. Is there a strain of European/American zen calligraphy?
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Offline SunnyMoni

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2016, 11:14:51 PM »
The only zen calligraphy I know of is brush and ink Japaneseor Chinese calligraphy. Is there a strain of European/American zen calligraphy?

I've met one person who practices zen calligraphy with brush and ink but by using English words. I'm not sure this is necessarily common practice or if it would still be considered the same thing.
Monica

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2016, 02:54:12 AM »
Kazuaki Tanahashi has taught at the international calligraphy conferences. You may read more about him at brushmind.net
He has many upcoming classes and workshops.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2016, 03:09:15 AM by jeanwilson »

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: Zen Calligraphy
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2016, 09:08:31 AM »
The only zen calligraphy I know of is brush and ink Japaneseor Chinese calligraphy. Is there a strain of European/American zen calligraphy?

I've met one person who practices zen calligraphy with brush and ink but by using English words. I'm not sure this is necessarily common practice or if it would still be considered the same thing.

Zen practitioners would be the first to say that the words don't matter, it's the practice that counts.  :)
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