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Art & Zen


A first contact with Zen often takes place through paintings, zen stories, gardens, architecture, ceramics, or other arts. Some of these often abstract arts are charactericed by calligraphic elements, reduced structural forms and great emptyness. The special effect of Zen arts is based on a natural relation between form and emptiness. It is like the remembrance of an old memory which leaves fine emotions and silence at the same time with the viewer. Zen does not focus on creating individual forms. Nothing is forced. Everything is like it is. This quality of highest simplicity and transparency is easily misunderstood in the west.

During the 20th century Zen has become an inspiration for many western artists architects. In some cases the influence of Zen is visible only indirectly, but for many artists like Mondrian, Kandinsky, Itten, Pollock, Bissier, Tobey, Alechinsky, Cavael, Geiger, the Bauhaus architecs (to name just a few) their discourse with Zen is explicit. The way Zen has influenced the west can be compared with the way chan (the chinese origin of Zen) has influences Japan. It influenced western arts since the 17th century, but only since the 19th century artist started to directly change their works formally. In the second half of the 20th century zen became almost popular and various zen masters founded schools in the west, trying to hand over the authentic spirit of Zen.

Today there is no more lack of information about Zen. But Zen can not be understood by only collecting second hand information. Modern esoteric popularism and commercial explotation are missing a core qualitiy of Zen: the direct experience of transformation.

Zen is not a teaching, a philososphy or a moral system. Zen is neither concerned about ideas nor about speculations and it supplies no ready made answers. Zen has nothing to do with idealization or fanatism and it is not a universal remedy. Zen is neither holy nor unholy, neither science nor religion, neither this nor that. Zen is free of all these categories and therefore also culturaly independent. However, Zen presupposes the ability and the readiness to confront oneself directly with one's own nature. Therefore the practice of Zazen is highly valued. A deeper understanding of Zen arises through the practice of Zazen. Zazen means sitting in silence, a state of being in non-judgmental awareness.

River

 

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