Zen Kalligrafie fushoku 普觸 Begrüßungsgeste vor Zen-Meditation | Jiun Onkō慈雲飲光 | 1718–1804

Zen calligraphy fushoku 普觸 greeting gesture before Zen meditation | Jiun Onkō 慈雲飲光 | 1718–1804

Before a Zen meditation begins, the master greets his students. They bow to him three times, touching the ground with their foreheads. This greeting gesture is called fusokurei 普觸禮. (Rei means "gesture of respect" or "thanks" - the reading of the two preceding characters alone is usually not fusoku, but fushoku).

Even though these two characters are just a standing formula, a priest-calligrapher delves deeper into the meaning of the two characters. The first one on the right, fu, means "widespread", "usual". In everyday language it is most often used in conjunction with futsū: "normal". In Zen, however, this is a very important character, because the meditator should gain unobstructed access to reality. He does not want to deal with complicated theories and explanations. He wants to understand things "as they are". Jiun writes this character very legibly, even though he uses his characteristic bristly "inelegant" brush. He allows himself only one calligraphic freedom: instead of painting two vertical lines in the middle, he paints just one. It is as if he simply finds the repetition of the same line to be an unnecessary addition.

The character shoku on the left is now treated completely differently - wildly, emphatically. Used alone, it means "to touch". While the character on the right appears very stable and simple in its structure due to its horizontal and vertical strokes, the character on the left - with the exception of the first stroke - cannot be analyzed in detail due to its complicated sequence of strokes. "Touching" is a complex mental and physical process. When a meditator comes into contact with "that which is simply as it is", it is anything but easy for him. Simply understanding and accepting the world as it is is the hardest thing of all; Zen monks work on this their entire lives.

It seems to me that Jiun succeeds in concisely capturing the core of the Zen meditation goal in the juxtaposition of "simple" and "touch". The whole problem of the human aspiration to be able to merge into the world is suddenly made clear with the very different graphic representation of these two symbols.

The picture was in the collection of Kinami Takuichi (1925-2016). He published the calligraphy in 2012 in the semi-private publication: “Jiun Sonsha – His Calligraphy, Biography and Philosophy” (Vol. 6) Tokyo 2012.

Dimensions: 62cm x 108cm | Material: Paper

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