Categories

Practicing 禅 zen in different styles of Shodo calligraphy

A few of the calligraphy styles of 禅 Zen by Shogen, investigating the old meanings

禅 Zen or Chan, was developed as a new kanji (Chinese character) to translate Dhyana after Buddhism came into China, but brings in different elements into the character, such as the altar shape on the left, and the shapes on the right which have multiple meanings.

So it doesn’t exactly match Dhyana, the Sanskrit for meditation or awareness. You could view the kanji visuals as meaning: mind-heart in one place, tranquil; or, zen practice is an instant gateway to enlightenment. Depending on how much you look into it! This is a mysterious and graceful character to embrace, much like the Zen practice itself there is no single way to pin it down conceptually.

The first video is of two styles, the faster sosho and the older reisho, very varied!

In the Tensho style video – this style was originally carved before being adapted for the brush, so is a more linear style – I practiced this quite slowly and meditatively keeping a soft focus, and starting and ending with gassho 🙂

View more work by Shogen and by participants at his calligraphy workshops, often there is a Zen or Chinese poetry theme.

Categories

Shakyo – bringing the Sutra to life with each brush stroke and pen mark

Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra traced by Shogen
延命十句観音経 Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra traced by Shogen Blair

Our first online Shakyo 写経 practice event saw us come together from Scotland, and elsewhere such as the rest of the UK and Canada, forming a lovely group of sutra tracing and copying practitioners.

Beginning with an introduction about the history of shakyo and the development of it from Tang dynasty China to modern day Japan, with descriptions of experiences and process in Japanese Buddhist temples such as Zen and Hossou schools, and then we discussed the meditative as well as practical techniques, demos and tips to prepare us.

We also talked about the Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra 延命十句観音経 and its connections to other sutras, looked at particular kanji characters and phrases, and how the sutra has been popular and cherished over the centuries as one that aids wellbeing in times of sickness or difficulty.

After our tea, we lit the incense, rang the bell, chanted and began quietly tracing or copying, working from the short but meaningful and energetic sutra, assisted by worksheets with the kanji and meanings. Some people simply used pens with plain paper whilst others had brush pens or shakyo brush with suzuri inkwell and Japanese paper. It was great to see the the sutras of everyone, here are some examples.

Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra written by Shogen
Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra written by Shogen Blair

It was a peaceful and meditative atmosphere and one where we could practice with care, feeling and attentiveness working on each stroke bringing each character and letter to life. We connected with our senses, felt grounded and connected with the sutra.

We wrote our wish in the traditional manner (in Japanese and English) in the allotted space as well as the date and our name, passing the merits beyond our group, and then we completed our practice with a short chant and some time to briefly chat together about our experience.

Thanks to all the participants for their wholehearted practice.

Participant Alan’s set up with Japanese paper, worksheet, suzuri, solid ink and fude brush

Find out more about our Sutra tracing practice at Glasgow Zen Group.

See past Shakyo Sutra tracing events such as at KSD in Glasgow.

Zen group member Alan Buchan’s fast forward shakyo 🙂

Categories

Sutra tracing in English and Chinese characters

Here are some pictures of the sutra tracing and copying practice (shakyo 写経) that we will be working from in our practice group. These are from the short sutra Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra.

Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra written by Shogen
Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra written by Shogen
Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra traced by Shogen
延命十句観音経 Boundless Life Ten Phrase Kannon Sutra traced by Shogen
Categories

Walking and chanting the Lotus Sutra Odaimoku

Shogen walking whilst chanting the Odaimoku お題目 Namumyouhourengekyou 南無妙法蓮華経 in a tranquil area in Scotland with birdsong.

The Odaimoku お題目 chant – repeating the title of the Lotus Sutra Namumyohourengekyou 南無妙法蓮華経 – is principally associated with the Nichiren-shu school but was originally part of a Tendai chant, the school in which Dogen Zenji grew up with.

Here I am walking in a quiet Glasgow park whilst chanting, at a fairly slow pace so I’m not too much out of breath! We have been chanting it in our Chanting Group recently online.

Categories

Walking and chanting the Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra

Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo 延命十句観音経 – Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra. Shogen practicing chanting whilst walking in a peaceful spot near Glasgow in Scotland.

The Boundless Life Ten Line Kannon Sutra is chanted at various times such as by monks at Takuhatsu ritual begging while they walk in all weathers. It has a lot of energy and you can try it walking, or running slowly.

Visit our Chanting Group page

Categories

Morning walking after zazen

Weather has been amazing for daily exercise. Watching the blossoms and flowers come and go and the trees transforming…

Posted by Glasgow Zen Group on Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Categories

Thinking-Not-Thinking

Video teaching adapted from Kusen given on 4rth April 2020:
A monk asked master Yaoshan,
‘what are you thinking when your sitting in Zazen’?
The master replied ‘I’m thinking not thinking’
the monk, puzzled, replied, ‘how are you thinking not thinking?’
the master replied ‘hishiryō’.
This famous encouter pivots around the final reply of Yaoshan, ‘hishiryō’. However hishiryō does not easily translate into English, and consequenlty it is easily open to mininterpretation. In this video John discusses this Koan and how we can understand thinking, not thinking
Categories

Let’s foster connection

The essential message of Buddhism is that we are connected, not separate. And, particularly in these extraordinary times, our responsibility as practitioners is to seek to foster connection. 


Accordingly, we have now set up online Zazen meditation sessions twice a week, an online Chanting Group and online Study Group, with more activities planned.


If you would like to know more about our activities, and participate in some or all of them, even if you’re a complete newbie to meditation, we’d really love to hear from you. Just email your name and mobile number to glasgowzengroup@gmail.com, and we’ll be in touch.