Arts, Zen And The Influence…

Hakuin Ekaku, Hotei in a Boat, Yale University Art GalleryThe kare-sansui (dry landscape) zen garden at Ryōan-ji

Certain arts such as painting, calligraphy, poetry, gardening, flower arrangement, tea ceremony and others have also been used as part of zen training and practice. Classical Chinese arts like brush painting and calligraphywere used by Chan monk painters such as Guanxiu and Muqi Fachang to communicate their spiritual understanding in unique ways to their students.  Zen paintings are sometimes termed zenga in Japanese.

Hakuin is one Japanese Zen master who was known to create a large corpus of unique sumi-e (ink and wash paintings) and Japanese calligraphy to communicate zen in a visual way. His work and that of his disciples were widely influential in Japanese Zen. Another example of Zen arts can be seen in the short lived Fuke sect of Japanese Zen, which practiced a unique form of “blowing zen” (suizen) by playing the shakuhachi bamboo flute.

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