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#1633 - Monday, December 1, 2003 - Editor: Jerry  

Verses of Sen-No-Rikyu.  

Through the teaching of Sen Rikyu it was that Teaism, from being a
diversion of the wealthy and of retired people, came to be a point
of view and a way of life in Japan. Sen-No-Rikyu was a native of
Imaichi in the province of Izumi. At the age of seventeen he was
attracted to Teaism and attached himself to Kitamuki Dőchin to
study it. After some time he became recognised as the greatest
authority of the day. He became a great favorite of the Taiko
and accompanied him everywhere.
From this time onward Tea became more and more the fashion, and
all ranks of society from Court Nobles and Daimyos to Samurai and
Commoners were numbered among his pupils, and deferred to his
judgment in everything that pertained to the connoisseurship of
paintings and writings and the proper choice of utensils.
The principles of Tea as taught by Rikyu are comprised in the
four expressions Harmony, Reverence, Purity, Calm. Luxury and
Ostentation were to be strenuously avoided.
Once a certain person came to Rikyu and asked him what were the
mysteries of Tea. "You place the charcoal so that the water
boils properly, and you make the tea to bring out the proper
taste. You arrange the flowers as they appear when they are
growing. In summer you suggest coolness and in winter cosiness.
There is no other secret," replied the Master.

"Tea is not but this.
First you make the water boil,
Then infuse the tea.
Then you drink it properly.
That is all you need to know."

"All that I know already," replied the other with an air of disgust.
"Well, if there is any one who knows it already, I shall be very
pleased to become his pupil," returned Rikyu.
The following are some of the verses of Sen-No-Rikyu:
Though I sweep and sweep,
Everywhere my garden path,
Though invisible
On the slim pine needles still
Specks of dirt may yet be found.
When below the eaves
The moon's flood of silver light
Chequers all the room,
There's no need to be abashed
If our heart is pure and clear.
When you hear the splash
Of the water drops that fall
Into the stone bowl
You will feel that all the dust
Of your mind is washed away.
In my little hut,
Whether people come or not
It is all the same.
In my heart there is no stir
Of attraction or disgust.
What have I to give?
To my guests for their repast
If I don't rely
On the monkeys of the vale
For the fruits they bring to me.
There is no fixed rule
As to when the window should
Closed or open be.
It depends on how the moon
Or the snow their shadows cast.
Flowers of hill or dale.
Put them in a simple vase
Full or brimming o'er.
But when you're arranging them
You must slip your heart in too.
Every morn and eve
When I sweep the Dewy Path
All is calm and still.
Though it seems a guest is there
No one comes to lift the latch.
Many though there be,
Who with words or even hands
Know the Way of Tea.
Few there are or none at all,
Who can serve it from the heart.
If I look upon,
The still mirror of my heart
What there do I see?
Is it the same mind it was
Yesterday, or it is changed?
Though invisible
There's a thing that should be swept
With our busy broom.
'Tis the dirt that ever clings
To the impure human heart.
Though you wipe your hands
And brush off the dust and dirt
From the tea vessels.
What's the use of all this fuss
If the heart is still impure?
Since the Dewy Path
Is a way that lies outside
This most impure world.
Shall we not on entering it
Cleanse our hearts from earthly mire?
When we leave behind
The Three Worlds' Abodes of Fire,
Storm and Passion tossed,
Entering the Dewy Path
Through the pines a pure breeze blows.
Just a little space
Cut off by surrounding screens
From the larger hall.
But within we are apart
From the common Fleeting World.
In the Dewy Path
And the Tea-room's calm retreat
Host and guests have met.
Not an inharmonious note
Should disturb their quiet zest.
On a Chinese stand
Vessels all of various shapes
Made of gourds are seen
'Tis a feast that we receive
Both from China and Japan.
Just a simple shelf
Hanging from the corner wall
By a plain bamboo.
All we need in such a world
Are these artless simple things.
Take a "Go' bamboo
Split it up and from the joints
You can fabricate
All the things that you will need
For the use of Cha-no-yu.
When you take a sip
From the bowl of powder Tea
There within it lies
Clear reflected in its depths
Blue of sky and grey of sea.
What a lot of things
Just as though by slight of hand
Can be done with you.
Everything you can include
In your maw O double shelf.
I am never tired
Of this simple straw-thatched hut.
Wrought of plain round wood
Does its middle pillar stand
Just exactly to my mind.

Copyright © 2000 Holy Mountain Trading Company. All rights reserved.   Ritsurin Koen, a Japanese Garden.
by Victor Dove

Sand garden with byobu matsu pines and stepping stones around the Kikugetsu-tei.
Sand garden with byobu matsu pines and stepping stones around the Kikugetsu-tei.

he Japanese garden idealises forms of nature. Contrived out of earth, rocks and water and mantled by carefully chosen growths, the garden expresses an ideal universe within a defined area. Man's design is evident, but his handiwork remains unobtrusive: the thoughtful arrangements of ponds and rocks, forests of miniature pines, clumps of bamboos and various ornamental trees and shrubs. All appear to have found their locations by natural processes. Where man's work is obvious, in small pavillions, tea houses, pathways and bridges, the forms subtly harmonize with nature and appear almost as organic extensions of the environment.

In the Japanese garden the shapes of natural mountains, rivers and lakes and the wildernesses of forests are simulated and expressed in a heightened poetic way. It is this refined poetic character that impinges itself on the sensibility of the visitor to the garden. The Japanese garden is a tangible realization of the aesthetics of Shinto nature worship and the ideals of Buddhist philosophy, the twin spiritual foundations of Japanese culture.
The Ritsurin Koen in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku island, is a fine realization of the ideas of Japanese garden aesthetics. Developed during the Edo period (1615-1868) as a private reserve for the ruling Matsudaira family, the Ritsurin was laid out as a large kaiyu or promendae style garden. It is among the most renowned traditional gardens of Japan. Divided into a North and a South Park, the Ritsurin occupies an area of approximately 780,000 square metres below the west side of the thicky foliated slope of Mount Shiun.
The initial steps towards the creation of the garden were made in 1587 by Ikoma Chikamasa, Daimyo of Sanuki. Lord Ikoma constructed a house and garden and called the place Ritsurin Villa. In 1642 the daimyate of Sanuki passed from the Ikoma family to the Matsudaira. In due course the new daimyo, Matsudaira Yorishige, set about the enlargement of his estate. In 1673 he expanded the South Pond and is said to have decided then to devote his remaining years to cultivating the garden. The development of the Ritsurin Koen occupied five generations of the Matsudairas for almost one hundred years.
South Pond from a hill near the east wall.
The South Pond from a hill near the east wall. In the foreground the Crescent Moon Bridge
and in the background the Kikugetsu-tei summer villa.
The garden achieved its present form and dimensions in 1741 under the aegis of Matsudaira Yoriyasu. Ritsurin Koen remained the private domain of the Matsudaira family until the collapse of the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868. It was then proclaimed as the Municipal Park of Takamatsu City in 1875.
Ritsurin Koen has been landscaped around six ponds and thirteen artificial hills. The design was developed around the two main ponds: the South Pond and the North Pond. Entry is made via the East Gate. The recommended course follows a meandering trail around the South park to be completed by a circuit of the North Park.
Low forests of dwarf pines called byobu matsu, or pine tree screens, mantle the hills and islets and fringe the shores of ponds. The growth of these trees has been fashioned so that their branches leap and coil, suggesting the undulating, animated play of dragons. Winding pathways bordered by clustered growth of low bamboos, camillas and various shrubs and stones lead to vantaged viewing points.
An exquisite refinement of the landscape garden art is exhibited in the design of the South Park, focused on its large pond and the summer villa Kikugetsu-tei. From a hill just inside the east wall, one may view a fine panorama of the South Park encompassing the pond and the distant Kikugetsu-tei villa nestling at the foot of Mount Shiun.
In the South Pond there are three islets: Kaede-jima (Maple Isle), Tennyo-jima (Angel Isle), and Token-jima (Cuckoo Isle). Of these islets, Kaede-jima is at its finest in autumn when the maples are aglow with seasonal hues. Tennyo-jima features small shrubs trimmed in the shape of boxes, an Edo period style known as hakozukuri or box-making. This severe style may be regarded as a departure from the norms of Japanese gardening that usually seeks to simulate or heighten natural forms. A rock composition and a stone pagoda add further embellishments to this islet. Token-jima suffered the removal of its original trees and stones during the early years of the Meiji era; although trees have been replanted its former beauty is left to one's imagination.

uring the days of the Matsudairas the summer villa, Kikugetsu-tei, was the venue for aesthetic recreations such as the Tea Ceremony, moon viewing, and poetry composition by members of the cultured samurai class. Sited in the southwest corner of the lake the house is embraced by a sand and rock garden containing byobu matsu pines and palm trees. The sand garden is combed in wave-like patterns and crossed by stepping-stone paths. In recent times the Kikugetsu-tei was closed for over two years while it was being renovated in strict accordance with the original plan; the villa opened in late 1980.
The front room of the villa faces east on to the lake. It is said that moon viewing parties were held there inspired by an old Cinese poem that referred to "the moon in the hand." One could touch the reflection of the moon in the pond, which gave rise to the name of the villa, Moon Scooping Summer House.
The Kikugetsu-tei summer villa in 1980. The Kikugetsu-tei summer villa shortly after renovation
in 1980. Mount Shiun rises behind it.
Maple leaves frame a bridge behind the Kikugetsu-tei. Maple leaves frame a bridge behind the Kikugetsu-tei.
Another recreation of the samurai in the South Park concerned a poetry and drinking game. On a shore near the southeast corner of the pond, where two promontories are linked by an arched wooden bridge called Engetsu-kyo bashi or the Crescent Moon Bridge, people would gather and drink sake. The emptied cup would then be floated on the pond and the owner would attempt to compose a waka, a poem of thirty-one syllables, before his cup sank from striking a reed or ripple of the water.
The North Park offers pleasant paths for strolling and some charming scenic viewing points, the best of which look back towards the South Park. Unfortunately this area suffered from neglect and damage during the early years of the Meiji era, from 1868, when it passed into private ownership. Restoration work was carried out from 1911 to 1913 but in general the character of this part is at variance with the refinement expressed in the South Park.

Near the East Gate there is the Sanuki Mingei-kan (folkcraft) house. The museum there exhibits pottery, domestic utensils, craftware and furniture from the days of the Matsudairas. Noteworthy are the displays of Takamatsu style textile and kite designs, some antique iron-plated wooden chests and examples of the distinctive orange and black patterned lacquerware of the region. The adjoining Government Exhibition Hall contains a souvenir shop offering contemporary folkcraft products.
A visit to the Ritsurin Koen is a journey into a small, enchanted universe that is a masterpiece of the Japanese art of the landscaped garden.

Holy Mountain
Last modified: May 18, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Holy Mountain Trading Company. All rights reserved.

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Jerry Katz
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