Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Zen for Kappa No He
In commenting about last weekend’s Walking this Way in San Diego Patty wondered “about the Zen stuff” and I had to explain to her the peace and harmony of the two rocks in sand on the beach. Turns out she didn’t recognize the photo as sand and rocks but in the process I explained
“The peace and harmony of this pair of rocks, can't you see it? There is a famous Zen garden in Kyoto, a rectangle with sand and 13 rocks. No matter how you locate yourself, only 12 rocks can be seen at any one time. Everyone convinced they are the one who will see thirteen rocks spends hours looking at the garden from different angles. By that time, their arrogance has become peace and harmony.”
Kappa No He from Japan came back with
“Wow, I didn't know that about the Kyoto temple. Although I can totally see a bunch of monks from ancient times trying to make that. "Hey, Masuyuki! Stand over there, how many do you see now?!" I'll have to look that up.”
The garden is at the Ryoanji Temple, a World Heritage site, and I was wrong about the rocks. There are 15 rocks arranged such that only 14 can be seen at any one time, regardless of the angle viewed. Only with enlightenment can you see the last invisible stone in the mind's eye. The garden was created in the 15th century, and remains in its original simplicity. There have been interpretations the rocks represent islands in the ocean or tiger cubs crossing the ocean among others, but it is up to the viewer to find out for himself what the garden means. It is an experience much like watching the sun change angles at the Taj Mahal.