Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Ryokan -- a solo show at Axis Contemporary Art

Photography by the generous and kind Bill Pitcher: www.williampitcher.ca
A Gentle Wind Beneath A Vast Sky
Last year I discovered a book of poems called One Robe One Bowl.  Brilliantly translated by John Stevens, it is a collection of zen poems written by Ryokan, an 18th century hermit monk living in the mountains of Japan.  Deeply connected to the natural world and completely devoted to Buddha and his teachings, Ryokan wrote poems that displayed an unparalleled level of awareness and honesty combined with a profound sensitivity to the earth and all beings.  While many of his poems are poignant and moving, many more are light-hearted and uplifting in a way that makes the heart smile.  Although unconventional by today's standards, one of Ryokan's endearing qualities was his love of sake.  He was known to sit under cherry trees, stare up at the moon and engage with neighbouring farmers happily under the influence.  I like this particular trait because it removes our societal instinct to relate spirituality with a kind of unachievable, puritanical way of being that leaves little room for actually being human.  This show is a tribute to Ryokan, the tender-hearted man, the monk and the poet.

For Ryokan

Begging Bowl

Mendicant Monk

Aum Mani Padme Aum

Ryokan and the Moon

Hototoguisu and the Green Mountain





For Teishin


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