December 14, 2019 0

An Ode to Zazen, Calligraphy, and Tea

An Ode to Zazen, Calligraphy, and Tea

Last Fall, I joined a short session of Zen
meditation, and I remember sitting, trying to calm my mind and simply focusing on the sound, the smell, and the warm sense of the sun that touched my skin. I immediately noticed a similarity: that
this is exactly what calligraphy is for me. It helps me be in the moment, helping me to calm my mind and focus on one thing at a time. Every letter reflects one’s thought in
that precise moment, letting them flow freely from the mind. In Zen meditation, there’s a practice
called Shikantaza, which means just sitting. There is no goal per se. You just sit and allow the mind to just be. It is not a means to an end, it is just what it is in that instant. When people talk about calligraphy, they always thought that they’re all straight-up perfect letterforms that can only be done by experts. But I want to show people that calligraphy can also be done through a simple line, graceful curves, or even a not so perfect straight line. We live in a time where everything is instantaneous. Off the shelf tea bags, writing emails, and always rushing to wherever we’re going. Doing calligraphy has taught me that… life is not always about the destination or the result, but it’s more about the journey, the practice, the accidental discoveries which might involve making mistakes. The simplicity and austerity of tea making requires an exceptional focus the same way calligraphy does. The primary aesthetic concept at the heart of traditional Japanese culture is the value of harmony in all things. Every stir matters. Every process is not to be taken for granted. This is the beauty of studied simplicity and harmony. At the end of the day, the process beautifies the final result by giving me a wholesome experience to feel, to connect, and to heal. And so that’s what I’m trying to present: calligraphy as a unique art form of meditation.

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