The calligraphy brush descends into the ink as black as night. It absorbs the darkness in every hair and rests on the hill of the suzuri (inkstone) to let go of excess ink. Once finding the right moment, the brush leaves the suzuri, pauses in the air for a moment, and lands on the calligraphy paper. With a deep exhalation, the brush moves to the right leaving a smudged horizontal line and slightly turns clockwise at the end to finalize the stroke. Then the brush leaves the paper, travels through the air, and returns to the hill of the suzuri, as a traveler drops her luggage.
I’m surrounded by a dozen of participants in my Zen Calligraphy class. They are watching me demonstrating basic brushstrokes in Japanese calligraphy. These simple horizontal and vertical lines reflect the state of my mind at the moment of creating each brushstroke. They also reveal my approach in life. Am I in a hurry to move toward the future? Do I hesitate in the middle of action or trust the flow and let go of any doubt? Am I fully present in the moment? Can I stay with my breath?
Zen art, such as calligraphy, is much more than the expression of the practitioner’s aesthetics. It is the process of finding and descending into the emptiness deep within. From that place, she merges with her art and environment. This process is more important than the final art product.
Zen art is very private as a diary. There is no audience but just oneself who watches every movement of the heart.
Meditative art has been an important part of my mindful practice in addition to seated meditation. It is how I meet with my soul.
"When you do something, you should do it with your whole body and mind." – Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, Zen Master