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Zen Gardens


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I thought I would begin a thread on zen gardens - so many to choose from. Here I love the totally non-utilitarian structure of the landing bay. It makes me think of the little zen koan "a clearly enlightened person falls into the well - how is this so?"


The Japanese love their cherry blossoms.


"Seen with the eye of faith

the cherry blossoms

are always about to fall"



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Thinking of this thread - if such it can be called - I googled "Pure Land Gardens" and found a "garden of peace" that can be found in the UK. Alas, no picture here as its images are protected by some sort of web copyright. The price for entry was £7, which drew this from one reviewer:- "no wonder the owner is at peace! The garden is smaller than my own!" Another complained of dogs barking and children crying - which seems to indicate that very few have any real notion of the Pure Land. Once again I think of the little zen koan. Just rambling.

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Some have miniature zen gardens in their home. Here is one. In fact the lady who is the scheme manager of our retirement complex has one in her office. She hails from the Philippines. My 3 year old granddaughter, while in her office saying hello, gave the intricate swirls a helping hand according to her own fancy. Ying and yang became a little confused.



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I have always had a love of Japanese Woodprints and here two loves are combined - a zen garden woodprint.


In the past I have thought that the intricate patterns found in many zen gardens is inconsistent with what is often associated with zen, i.e spontaneity. After the reading of Dogen, no. Their is the "right word" for each and every moment - but just for that moment.


As we are on a Christian Forum, I would just say that the whole idea of the universal being found in the particular has much to say in terms of the Incarnation, of a Person of one particular time and place "coming for all".


But as I see it, we must beware of the wingnuts who insist that Christianity is uniquely unique!



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I thought everyone had gone to sleep....... :D My excuse was a visit from the grandchildren. Anyway, Soma's post brought to mind some words of Dogen....."That you carry yourself forward and experience the myriad things is delusion. That the myriad things come forward and experience themselves is awakening."


And - appropriate for a garden thread (especially the weed part) - another Dogen quote......


A flower falls even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.

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And for my 1000th post.......




This is a garden "inspired by Japanese Zen Gardens", which won a prize at the Chelsea Flower show. For those not accustomed to spending countless hours on a meditation cushion or staring at a wall for nine years, it is perhaps easy to be fooled by such a poor counterfeit....... :)



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I haven't seen many, but my favorite is the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, SF. I even experienced a dissociative moment while contemplating the garden in the 90's.



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I haven't seen many, but my favorite is the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, SF. I even experienced a dissociative moment while contemplating the garden in the 90's.4194769898_d32ba98abe_z.jpg?zz=1

I like the slightly bent tree over on the right side. It brought to mind the "Useless Tree" of Chuang Tzu, a tree so bent that no carpenter would ever cut it down. I googled "useless tree" and found that one had been the subject of an often neglected fable of Aesop, in which a group of philosophers discuss the uselessness of a tree under which they sit to avoid the harsh sunlight. Googling again, others argued that nothing is useful for everything, while each thing is useful for something. One point that was made by another was that we should not identify our worth - or the worth of another - with any particular usefulness. Rather, we should know ourselves as inherently worthy, purely by being ourselves. Which made me think of a few words of the Buddha, that our practice of compassion is not complete until it embraces ourselves.


Anyway, nice picture.

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As I had a few moments I searched online once again for some garden poetry. One site I found, of "Classic Garden Poetry", began with a short poem by William Blake, from his "Songs of Innocence and Experience" (Showing "the two contrary states of the human soul") It has long been a favourite of mine.



I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut
And "Thou shalt not," writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.


Anyway, I shall find the site again, as it had a host of little verses and pictures that I found worth moving through. I'll put a link on my next post.


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