Relationship between Zen and Sumi-e (2)


3.Common spirit between sumi-e and Zen

There is ‘Ku’ in the doctrine of Zen. ‘Shikisokuzeku, Kusokuzeshiki’. ‘Shiki’ means all substances and ‘Ku’ means the condition that all of creation is nothingsness, in other words, ‘Cosmos’. It means that ‘Shikisokuzeku’ is ‘Form is exactly emptiness. Emptiness is exactly form’, and ‘Kusokuzeshiki’ is ‘Form is exactly emptiness but everything has an individual aspect’. In short, ‘all things are in flux and nothing is permanent, but on the other hand, all the things in the universe have individual aspects and value.’
There is the common spirit between Sumi-e and the thought of ‘Ku’. In the case of depicting a thing by Sumi-e, Sumi-e tends to attach great importance to depict the essential qualities of a thing or the essence at the bottom of heart of painters by leaving out unnecessary things, instead of depicting a thing realistically.

4.the beauty of blank space

‘Ku’ in the doctrine of Zen is conceptual very much and so I would like to be likened to ‘Sea and waves’ in the teachings of Buddha.
The sea has a lot of waves on it. There are no waves amongst these, big wave, small wave, and so on. Besides, a wave doesn’t keep the same condition but keeps changing continuously. Each wave itself has different appearance and so it looks an independent existence at a glance, but in the eyes of the sea, waves are just part of the sea, while the surface of the sea changing a little bit. The sea means ‘Ku’, in other words, ‘Cosmos’, and the waves mean ‘Shiki’.
By the way, Sumie is said that space is as important or perhaps more important than the objects. It is so-called ‘the beauty of blank space’. In Sumie, the white space or “emptiness” completes the painting. On the other hand, to a westerner, empty space is often referred to as “negative” space. The pieces seem unfinished. This point is one of the most different between Sumie and the western methods.
Because Sumie is an art deeply rooted in Zen, embodying many of the tenets of the Zen. The objects means ‘waves’, in other words, ‘Shiki’. ‘The beauty of blank space’ means ‘the sea’, in other words, ‘Ku.’

photo (1)          photo (2)

The photo (1) is the western style, and the photo (2) is the style of Sumi-e. Regarding the western, the subject is one, but on the other hand, Sumi-e has two subjects; one is a thing for depicting, another one is the blank space. ‘Ku’ can be called ‘Cosmos’, and so the blank space is filled with ‘Cosmos’ It is important to take care of the blank space as well in Sumi-e.

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