Received Wisdom Zen monk and garden designer Shunmyo Masuno on clearing the mind.

Received Wisdom Zen monk and garden designer Shunmyo Masuno on clearing the mind.

Issue 51

, Directory

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Selena Takigawa Hoy
  • Photo Chester Ong

Looking at a garden is a way to feel and realize certain things. The reason monks started engaging in garden creation is rooted in the original ideals of Zen. Ideally, one would build a small hut in a natural and abundant setting—in the midst of a forest, or near a river—and contemplate life. As natural surroundings disappeared, it prompted monks to create gardens to bring nature closer and they became symbolic, simplified and stylized.

I’m not a special person. I have a set daily routine, waking up at 4:30 a.m., opening doors, performing morning rituals and offering prayers. Afternoons involve emails and interactions with people, so the morning is when I can concentrate most. Nights are tiring, concentration decreases; I work until 9:30 or 10. I believe making mornings fulfilling...

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