May 1, 2011

A bamboo grove in Kencho-ji

In the middle of spring, the bright enriching rays of the sun are falling softly into the fresh green grove of bamboo to encourage the young leaves to grow abundantly.

In many Zen temples in Japan, the Zen picture called "the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove" is painted as an allegorical painting of the teaching of Zen on the "Fusuma" screens (sliding partitions) of the practicing rooms of the temples.

These seven sages are the Chinese legendary figures of the third century who are said to have learned the philosophy of Lao zi and Zhuang and held purely intellectual conversations deep in a solitary bamboo grove free away from the earthly human society.

The pure isolation and unworldliness of these sages in a deep bamboo grove symbolically represent the essential attitude of a Zen monk who devotes himself to achieve spiritual enlightenment in remote tranquil solitude far from this human world.

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