“Through Zen ascetic practice an emotion of the mind is found that can’t be directly exposed or understood. One must therefore discover ways to communicate this emotion to others. That is, ‘the expression of oneself.’ The Zen Priest has traditionally turned to such classical arts as calligraphy, Ikebana, and rock placement. The venue of expression is not of major importance, choose an outlet where interests lie.” Shunmyo Masuno
The ancient traditions and magnificent art of Japanese garden design continue to exercise an enormous, international influence on contemporary garden architecture. The Zen Gardens of Shunmyo Masuno is a filmed portrait of Shunmyo Masuno, the internationally recognized master of Japanese garden style.
Masuno is an 18th generation Zen priest, and the very last of his order still engaged in garden creation. Significantly, the Zen monk has not withdrawn from the modern world. On the contrary, his designs can be found today in the great, modern cities of Tokyo and Yokohama – for whose stressed inhabitants the artist has endeavored to create oases of quiet and serenity.
More on Shunmyo Masuno
‘Ishidate-so: the title given to Zen priests of days gone by, who as part of their ascetic practice, expressed themselves through the art of landscape gardening
with great importance given to rock placement. Shunmyo Masuno of Kenkoh-ji temple is a modern day Zen priest who through this art form, strives to express his spiritual self.’
‘Shunmyo considers both viewing and creating gardens his most critical moments of ascetic practice. A famous Zen saying is, “when venomous snake drinks water, it becomes poison. When cow drinks water it becomes milk”. This suggests that whether the garden becomes poison or milk is dependent on the creator.
Shunmyo always approaches garden making with both fear and affection. He accepts that it cannot be any better than his ability. The limiting factor is the spiritual plain achieved thus far through his ascetic practice. The successful garden is the other self, a mirror of his mind.
Shunmyo refers to gardening as his spiritual training ground in his quest of a higher understanding of himself. His inner feelings, deep emotions whether positive or negative are always expressed in his work.’
quotes from: http://www.kenkohji.jp/s/english/index_e.html