December 3, 2022

An additional vital idea in Zen gardens is the abundance of vacant room – pristine and uncluttered – a reflection of how your head need to be when you happen to be meditating. In the West, we are not comfortable with an vacant space, just as we are with silence. We come to feel compelled to fill both of those. In Zen, area is important, stunning even, as demonstrated by the two concepts of ma (interval or house) and yohaku no bi (the beauty of emptiness).

In accordance to Mira Locher, architect, educator and writer of two publications about Shunmyō Masuno (Zen Backyard garden Style and design, 2020,and Zen Gardens – The Entire Functions Of Shunmyō Masuno,2012): “The strategy of ma, implies the existence of a boundary, a thing that defines the interval or room (for illustration, two columns). In the West, we tend to take into account the boundary object(s) ‘positive’ and the room ‘negative’. On the other hand, in a Zen backyard, the house (ma) is comprehended as a favourable component, and the backyard designer uses the boundary objects to condition it… it is an essential component in the yard.”

Locher continues: “Yohaku no bi is a product that will allow the viewer’s intellect to settle down. Contrary to ma, which is intangible space, yohaku no bi ordinarily is represented by some thing tangible, such as a bed of raked white pea gravel. The distinction of the whiteness and uniformity of the gravel juxtaposed versus rough rocks or variegated greenery produces the feeling of emptiness, which in convert allows the viewer to ’empty’ their brain.” So uncluttered spaces enable unclutter the mind, invoking a variety of meditative condition. 

Shunmyō Masuno is just one of a vanishing breed,  a 21st-Century ishitate-so (practically “rock-environment clergymen”), a expression of regard provided to Zen monks who structure gardens reflecting Zen beliefs as part of their ascetic observe, with good significance supplied to rock placement. Centuries in the past, lots of such clergymen existed. Nowadays only a handful remain. Masuno’s curiosity in rock gardens commenced when, as a boy, his mothers and fathers took him to the backyard garden at Kyoto’s Ryoanji Temple. “It was a variety of culture shock,” he wrote, “as if my head had been break up open with a hatchet”. Today his award-winning patterns can be located in business blocks, apartment complexes and private residences from New York to Norway.

Masuno believes Zen gardens – even a small just one – can enjoy a essential job in today’s metropolitan areas, not only in brightening up the city setting, but also in serving to to “restore people’s humanity”. For all those who shell out their times doing work within buildings, bombarded by info and divorced from character, yard spaces can assist them find stability in their life by “generating place, each bodily and mental, for meditation and contemplation within the chaos of everyday existence,” writes Locher in Zen Back garden Style.