Reasearch Paper- Ryoan-ji Rock Garden

Topics: Japanese garden, Buddhism, Ryōan-ji Pages: 3 (1489 words) Published: October 27, 2014

Research Paper
Ryoan-ji Rock Garden
“I am nothing but blocks of stone on pieces of gravel. I am nothing but weight and silence, inertia and density. Nothing will ever learn my secret, or even whether I contain one. The only thing that can penetrate me is the strident cry of the cicada that pierces the heart of summer. Be content to taste the raw beauty of my opaque flesh; look at me without saying a word and ask me nothing; be silent and try, through my hermetic body, to find yourself.” Complete silence. Gazing off into a sight of empty space with the unusual rock making an appearance in your sight. The beauty of nothingness. This is what it must feel like to visit Ryoan-ji Temple’s rock garden. Ryoan-ji serves as an outlet, a place to get away and meditate. One can go there, observe the simple beauty of the garden and meditate on one’s own life, trying to find him/herself. When one usually thinks of a garden, they might picture colorful flowers surrounded by the bright green grass with a stream flowing through the center. Ryoan-ji is the complete opposite. The minimal materials and simple colors might make it seem boring or scarce but there is an element of beauty hidden behind the humble mode of production. Ryoan-ji exemplifies Buddhist practice because it gives people a place to meditate on their hectic minds and lives by understanding and appreciating the beauty behind the simple garden. The Ryoan-ji garden is part of a Zen Buddhism temple and is located in Kyoto City. Hosokawa Katsumoto, a warrior and prime minister, built the Ryoan-ji temple in 1450. In 1467 the Onin Civil Wars broke out, which Katsumoto took part in. The Ryoanji Temple was burned to the ground during the Civil War but Katsumoto’s son; Hosokawa Masamoto rebuilt the temple in 1488. It is slighty unclear when exactly the garden was created but it’s thought to be sometime between the years 1499 through 1507, the year Masamoto died. In the year 1797, Ryoan-ji was struck by another fire and...

Bibliography: Berthier, François, and Graham Parkes. 2000. Reading zen in the rocks: The japanese dry landscape garden. Chicago, Ill: University of Chicago Press.
McGovern, Sean. 2004. The ryôan-ji zen garden: Textual meanings in topographical form. Visual Communication 3 (3): 344-59.
“Ryoanji Rock Garden,” accessed April 11, 2014, http://www.ryoanji.jp/smph/eng/garden/marking.html.
Fig 1. Bring, M. and Wayambergh, J. (1981) Japanese Gardens: Design and Meaning.
“Metitation,” accessed April 12, 2014, http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/qanda06.htm
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