Zen Gardening

Essay by mdig700High School, 11th gradeB+, January 2006

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For a region that is predominantly Buddhist, Chan, or Zen, is an important philosophy. Zen is a term used for a school that teaches the teachings of Buddha and how they are active in the natural world. Buddhism was in China before the Zen teachings, and when the Indian prince Bodhidharma introduced the idea to the Buddhist in 526 A.D., they were amazed at his way of seeing the world for what it is. Zen took off after Bodhidharma's ideas were spread.

Schools of Zen teachings were a mix of the Daoism philosophy and Mahayana. These were very strict schools that insisted on the idea that separate things exist only in relation to one another, which means nature cannot be defined or classified in any way. The goal of these Buddhist practicing Zen was to accomplish the way of seeing the world as Buddha did, just as it is, with a mind that has no grasping thoughts or feelings.

Schools that teach Zen recognize the importance of the arts, such as: painting, calligraphy, architecture, ceremonial tea drinking, and gardening. Other areas of Buddhism, such as Japan, practice arts such as Jujitsu as an art as well. Of the Zen arts, gardening is one of the most important and interesting forms of art.

Gardening has been done in Zen for almost a millennium. In the eleventh century, monks began creating these gardens as a tool to teach the principals of Zen and Buddhism to students. These gardens take careful consideration and care to make a peaceful environment for meditation. It takes a lot of labor to keep them looking nice, but Buddhist think of it more of an opportunity to create than just a basic chore. The gardens have to be a perfect place to meditate.

We know these gardens simply...