Monday, January 15, 2007

Sho (The Art of Zen Calligraphy)


Sho is the art of brush calligraphy, which is highly regarded both in the Far East and the West as an art form. It teaches not only technic, but also applies Zen and Buddhist teachings to those who practice it. The term sho refers not only to the calligraphy on the page, but the brush, the hand that painted it and the artist. To properly practice sho the brush must become one and an extention of the body. The artist puts their whole body into what they are doing, and therefore even painting a single verticle line, or mujibo, speaks volumes of a persons character, personnality and spirit.

"A person whose heart is clouded will not be able to draw a line that shines with purity. A person shallow in experience or cultivation cannot draw a line that reveals depth. A person lacking vitality will not draw a line that resonates with energy. Even a single straight line can be a mirror of the spirit." (Terayama page. 7)

Hitsuzendo "The Way of the Zen Brush"

Hitsuzendo is a form of calligraphy which is based on the principles of Zen, and is a form of sho. Those who practice it often meditate or do breathing excercises. It is believed that calligraphy should not be produced by conscious effort, but rather in a state of ma-shin, or "no mind". They must reach a state which is beyond conscious effort, thought and emotion. They believe that if the characters are produced through a conscious effort, that they are ultimately devoid of spirit and lifeless.
When they write, it is in one or few simple movements, with the objective of caputuring an experience into the calligraphy, and giving it life. The calligrapher exhales slowly with each stroke, putting his 'life force' into the brush, uniting it with himself. The practice is suppose to result in a product devoid of will power and impulse.