Sub specie Absolutus - Under the aspect of Absolute

Artistic principles and aesthetic ideals of Zen

Table1. Artistic principles and aesthetic ideals of Zen
in the Structure of Primordial Essences and Phenomenal Worlds


(Completeness and unity of
all richness, sublimity and 
spiritual level of 
emotional experience)

Social World
The Four Sublime
States of Buddhism
1. Loving-kindness 
or benevolence
2. Compassion
3. Empathetic joy
4. Equanimity
Sympathetic resonance
with environment

Shintō sencibility to
“the vitality and mood of things”
The pathos of things
Refined sensitivity to things
Sensitivity to ephemera
"The 'ahh-ness' of things"
Immediate emotional
reaction “Oh”
An empathy toward things
Emotional receptivity Heightens 
appreciation of beauty 
Beauty of impermanence
Sensitivity to the unavoidable
Gentle sadness about transience 

           AVARE -YUGEN
          Deep sense of pathos
       Transversal deep beauty
       Sad and poignant beauty


(Emptiness–as the source
for the endless possibilities,
as unknown treasure
and bottomless mystery)

Symbolic World
of meaning

Chan Buddhism concept
no-mind (C.wuxin; J.mushin)
– free, spontaneous mind
that is related to “deep”,
“shadowy-ness”, formless,
“dimness” “enigma”,
“profound mysterious”
of “myriad things”.
Mysterious profundity
Subtle profundity
Mysterious, sad beauty
Hints at a meaning
Profound grace and subtlety


(Reality as it is)
External reality

     Awakening and approval
     of universal creative spirit 
       of nature and ultimate 
       essence of truth innate
 beauty (bi) and harmony (wa)
      Unity of truth and beauty
      Genuineness of asthetic 
        and cosmic creativity
     Tranquility and creative
Furyu (“wind and stream”), 
Free and extravagant spirit, 
Creative forces of the Nature
Fūryū “the most elegant and 
refined simplicity 
Myo - the mysterious inner 
state which is related to
playful sense of wonder 
            Fueki Ryuko
     Constancy  and change 
Enso -enlightenment, satory, 
elegance, universal strength 
Creative contemplative mood, 
refined aesthetic sensitivity
and subtle attentiveness.
Beyond beauty and ugliness


Internal Reality

(Interconnection of 
all things, generating 
innate fabric 
and "suchness"
of the Being)

Objective World

The object and subject
in their natural austere
and self-worth.
Austere, rustic beauty
Rustic simplicity
Scantiness, poverty 
Vapidity, tarnish 
Stark beauty 
Refined, solitary beauty
Solitude, proud 
Concentration of
inner strength
Courageous recipiency
non-dependence upon ego
and material world 
Deliverance from
Getting rid of excess,
redundant and pretence

Three Buddhist characteristics 
of all existence and beings:

1. Impermanence: transience 
2. Unsatisfactoriness or
suffering: imperfect,
incomplete, asymmetry, 
roughness, flawed beauty
3. Non-self: austerity,
modesty, humility,
serene melancholy

          WABI –SABI
Palpable sense of the
passage of time
Imperfection, incomplete 
Non-attachment Loneliness 
and Tranquility 
Simplicity, naturalness 
Simple, subtle, and
unobtrusive beauty


(Inner freedom as a way 
to overcome variability
fragility and 
as a chance to master time)

Inner world
Individual attitude

Unique subjective view
toward an objects. The
unity of object and
subject internal life.

Desolate, subtle beauty
Archaic, natural patina,
"rust" and aging
Patina and wear as
evidence of impermanence
Serenity that comes with 
Pensive sheen of antiquity
Serenity impermanence
Elegant withering
Subtle melancholy feeling
Perfection of imperfection
Authenticity intimacy 
Tranquility, aloneness, 
deep solitude desolateness 
Existential loneliness
Receptive state of mind
Uniqueness of human 
Loneliness as liberation
from a commonness
Contemplation of the 
"bloom of time", itsflows
and creations


                                                          Table 2. Manifestation of Zen aesthetic principles in painting







Table 3. Manifestation   of principles of Zen aesthetics in daily life 



          FUGA NO MAKOTO 





  Table 4. Manifestation of Zen aesthetic principles in Haiku poetry

A monk sips morning tea,
it's quiet,
the chrysanthemum's flowering.
Matsuo Bashō (1644 - 1694)

Scent of plum blossoms
on the misty mountain path
a big rising sun
Matsuo Bashō

Ballet in the air!―
two butterflies, twice white,
meet, mate, unite.
Matsuo Basho

My eyes, having observed
everything, returned
to the white chrysanthemums.
Kosugi Isshō (1652 - 1688)

Covered with the flowers,
Instantly I'd like to die
In this dream of ours!
Ochi Etsujin (1655 - 1739)

see how the wild violets bloom
within the forbidden fences!
Shida Yaba (1662 - 1740)

A white swan
parts the cherry-petalled pond
with her motionless breast.
Roka (1671-1703)

Wild roses in bloom
--so like a pathway in,
or toward, my home village.
Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783)

Blossoms on the pear tree,
lighten by the moonlight,
and there
a woman is reading a letter.
Yosa Buson

With sorrow while coming
upon the hill
-- flowering wild roses.
Yosa Buson

Listening to the moon,
gazing at the croaking of frogs
in a field of ripe rice.
Yosa Buson

To my eyes how delightful
the fan of my beloved is,
in complete white.
Yosa Buson

To reveal the flower
Of your heart
Sway, you summer grove.
Tagami Kikusha-Ni (1753-1826)

To reveal the flower
Of your heart
Sway, you summer grove.
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

Morning glories -
in the evening we delight
in the buds
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

Blossoms at night,
and the faces of people
moved by music.
Kobayashi Issa (1763 - 1828)

In the thicket's shade
a woman by herself
singing the rice-planting song.
Kobayashi Issa

In these latter-day,
Degenerate times,
Cherry-blossoms everywhere!
Kobayashi Issa

Overdressed for
my thatched hut:
a peony blossoms.
Kobayashi Issa

Peonies blossom;
the world is full of fibbers.
Kobayashi Issa

fanning out its tail
in the spring breeze,
see—a peacock!
Masaoki Shiki (1867–1902)

As thunder recedes
a lone tree stands illuminated
in sunlight:
applauded by cicadas
Masaoka Shiki

scatter layer
by layer, eight-layered
cherry blossoms!
Masaoki Shiki

Entangled with
the scattering cherry blossoms—
the wings of birds!
Masaoki Shiki

Murmurs follow the hay cart
this blossoming summer day
Ippekiro Nakatsuka (1887–1946).

Girls gather sprouts of rice:
reflections of the water flicker
on the backs of their hats
Kyoshi Takahama (1874 –1959)

Falling snowflakes'
glitter tinsels the sea
Inahata Teiko (b.1931)


Snow-obscured heights,
mist-shrouded slopes:
this spring evening.
Ilio Sōgi (1421–1502)

Soundlessly they go,
the herons passing by:
arrows of snow
filling the sky.
Yamazaki Sōkan (1465–1553)

A fallen blossom
returning to the bough,
I thought-
But no, a butterfly.
Arakida Moritake (1473– 1549)

In my hut this spring
there is nothing -
there is everything
Sodo (1641-1715)

A hill without a name
Veiled in morning mist.
Matsuo Bashō 

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
Matsuo Basho

In the dense mist
what is being shouted
between hill and boat?
Matsuo Basho

The sea darkens ---
Faintly white
A wild duck’s call
Matsuo Basho

From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon-beholders.
Matsuo Bashō

Harvest moon . . .
smoke goes creeping
over the water
Hattori Ransetsu (1654 – 1707)

Useless dreams, alas!
Over desolate fields
winds whisper as they pass.
Uejima Onitsura (1661 – 1738)

like the shadows of crows
cast by a lonely moon.
Kaga no Chiyo (1703 – 1775)

Ah butterfly,
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
Kaga no Chiyo

Hazy moonlight --
someone is standing
among the pear trees.
Yosa Buson (1716 - 1783)

the sound of the bell
as it leaves the bell.
Yosa Buson

Light of the moon
Moves west, flowers' shadows
Creep eastward.
Yosa Buson

In pale moonlight
the wisteria's scent
comes from far away.
Yosa Buson

Spring stirs the clouds
in the sky's teabowl.
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

Summer night -
even the stars
are whispering to each other.
Kobayashi Issa

A giant firefly:
That way, this way,
that way, this -
and it passes by.
Kobayashi Issa

Composedly he sits
contemplating the mountains–
the worthy frog!
Kobayashi Issa

The woman
leads into the mist
low-tide beach
Kobayashi Issa

Summer night--
even the stars
are whispering to each other.
Kobayashi Issa

Rowing through
out of the mist
the wide sea.
Masaoka Shiki

A gold bug -
I hurl into the darkness
and feel the depth of night
Takahama Kyoshi

Pulling light
from the other world . . .
the Milky Way
Yatsuka Ishihara (1919–1998)



How I long to see
among the morning flowers
the face of God
Matsuo Bashō (1644 - 1694)

How admirable!
to see lightning and not think
life is fleeting.
Matsuo Bashō

shatters the darkness―
the night heron's shriek.
Matsuo Basho

Seek on high bare trails
Mountain-top jewels
Matsuo Bashō

A flash of lightning:
Into the gloom
Goes the heron's cry.
Matsuo Bashō

White cloud of mist
above white
cherry-blossoms . . .
Dawn-shining mountains
Matsuo Bashō

Ple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!
Matsuo Bashō

Wake! The sky is light!
let us to the road
again . . .
Companion butterfly!
Matsuo Bashō

Snow whispering down
All day long earth has vanished
Leaving only sky.
Naito Joso (1662–1704)

I hung the moon on various
branches of the pine
Tachibana Hokushi (1665-1718)

From the mind
of a single, long vine
one hundred opening lives.
Kaga no Chiyo

The temple bells grow silent
but the blossoms provide
their incense―
A perfect evening!
Matsuo Basho

The winter river;
down it come floating
flowers offered to Buddha.
Yosa Buson

My only creed--
The mountain of treasure
The six-petaled flowers of snow.
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

For a while
I forget there are sins -
this cool moon
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

A lovely thing to see:
through the paper window's hole,
the Galaxy.
Kobayashi Issa

Trusting the Buddha,
good and bad,
I bid farewell To the departing year.
Kobayashi Issa

A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle
Kobayashi Issa

Buddha Law,
in leaf dew
Kobayashi Issa

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!
Kobayaski Issa

Under the image of Buddha
all these spring flowers
seem a little tiresome.
Kobayashi Issa

In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.
IKobayashi Issa

No sky,
no land:
just snow eternally falling
Kajiwara Hashin (1864 -?)

In the coolness
gods and Buddhas
dwell as neighbors
Masaoki Shiki

I turn my back
on Buddha and face
the cool moon
Masaoki Shiki

Silently observing
the bottomless mountain lake:
water lilies
Inahata Teiko

Blizzards here on earth,
blizzards of stars
in the sky
Inahata Teiko



Winter solitude--
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
Matsuo Bashō (1644 - 1694)

Spring rain
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps' nest.
Matsuo Bashō

Awake at night--
the sound of the water jar
cracking in the cold.
Matsuo Bashō

Cold night: the wild duck,
sick, falls from the sky
and sleeps awhile.
Matsuo Bashō

Coolness of the melons
flecked with mud
in the morning dew.
Matsuo Bashō

Moonless night...
a powerful wind embraces
the ancient cedars.
Matsuo Bashō

Moonlight slanting
through the bamboo grove;
a cuckoo crying.
Matsuo Bashō

It has rained enough 
to turn the stubble
on the field black. 
Matsuo Bashō

A wild sea—
stretching to Sado Isle
the Milky Way
Matsuo Bashō

Sea darkens
calls of the wild ducks 
go faintly white
Matsuo Bashō

This road: 
no one to go with
autumn dusk 
Matsuo Bashō

The lillies! 
The stems, just as they are, 
the flowers, just as they are. 
Matsuo Bashō

First snow
on the half-finished bridge.
Matsuo Bashō

Snowy morning--
one crow
after another.
Matsuo Bashō

The pine-tree of Karasaki 
More dim and vague than 
the cherry-blossom.
Matsuo Bashō

Around the town
the smells of things - 
summer moon.
Nozawa Bonchō

At an eagle's nest
on dead camphor branches
the sun goes down. 
Nozawa Bonchō 

Throwing away the ashes,
The white plum-blossoms
Became cloudy.
Nozawa Bonchō 

a single chestnut leaf glides
on brilliant water
Ryuin (?-1690)

The bitter winter wind
ends here
with the frozen sea
Ikenishi Gonsui (1650-1722)

An autumn eve;
There is joy too,
In loneliness.
Yosa Buson

A harsh-rasping saw...
music of cold-poverty
in the winter midnight
Yosa Buson

Washing the hoe--
ripples on the water;
far off, wild ducks.
Yosa Buson

Fruitless blossoms 
Are beaten by the rain
In the melon fields
Yosa Buson

The moon
and just myself remain . . .
evening coolness on the bridge.
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

Even wearing a staw raincoat
I like to travel -
rain on the blossoms
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

Autumn wind –
mountain’s shadow
Kobayashi Issa 

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.
Kobayashi Issa 

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
Natsume Soseki
(1867 – 1916)

The crow has flown away: 
swaying in the evening sun, 
a leafless tree. 
Natsume Soseki

At the full moon's
rising, the silver-plumed
reeds tremble 
Masaoki Shiki

Night; and once again,
the while I wait for you, 
cold wind turns into rain.
Masaoka Shiki

After the thunder-shower
one tree in evening sunlight
a cicada's cry
Masaoka Shiki

The moon
hovering above the snow-capped
rained down hailstones
Sekitei Hara (1886–1951)

The frozen moon,
the frozen lake:
two oval mirrors 
reflecting each other.
Hashimoto Takako (1899-1963)

Painting by Morikawa Kyoriku

Kareeda ni
karasu no tomarikeri
aki no kure

On a bare branch
a crow is perched
- autumn evening
Matsuo Bashō


Furuike ya 
kawazu tobikomu 
mizu no oto

Old pond,
frog jumps in
- splash
Matsuo Bashō


Life: a solitary butterfly
swaying unsteadily on
a slender stalk of grass,
nothing more. But so exquisite!
Nishiyama Soin (1605-1682)     

The dragonfly
can't quite land
on that blade of grass.
Matsuo Bashō

The pine tree of Shiogoshi
Trickles all night long
Shiny drops of moonlight.
Matsuo Bashō

Autumn moonlight--
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.
Matsuo Bashō

A bee
staggers out
of the peony.
Matsuo Bashō

Atop the mushroom
who knows from where
a leaf!
Matsuo Bashō

Heat waves shimmering
one or two inches
above the dead grass.
Matsuo Bashō

First white snow of fall
just enough to bend
the leaves
Of faded daffodils
Matsuo Bashō

Mountain-rose petals
falling, falling, falling now . . .
Waterfall music
Matsuo Bashō

No one 
walks along this path 
this autumn evening. 
Matsuo Bashō

The year's first day ...
thoughts come, 
and with them, loneliness; 
dusk approaches. 
Matsuo Basho

The first soft snow:
leaves of the awed jonquil 
bow low
Matsuo Basho

Like a heavy fragrance
snow-flakes settle:
lilies on rocks
Matsuo Basho

Now the swinging bridge
Is quieted with creepers …
Like our tendrilled life
Matsuo Bashō

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming but still...
Iris, blue each spring.
Ume Shuushiki (1668-1725) 

I go,
you stay;
two autumns.
Yosa Buson

Before the white chrysanthemum
the scissors hesitate
a moment.
Yosa Buson

Lighting one candle
with another candle--
spring evening.
Yosa Buson

Blow of an ax,
pine scent,
the winter woods.
Yosa Buson

My arm for a pillow,
I really like myself
under the hazy moon.
Yosa Buson

Evening wind:
water laps
the heron's legs.
Yosa Buson

Not quite dark yet
and the stars shining
above the withered fields.
Yosa Buson

This being alone
may even be a kind 
of happy autumn dusk.
Yosa Buson

Winter rain on moss
soundlessly recalls those
happy by gone days
Yosa Buson

This world
we pass on a rush leaf -
not one thing
Tagami Kikusha-Ni

The first firefly...
But he got away and I...
Air in my fingers.
Kobayashi Issa 

A huge frog and I,
staring at each other,
neither of us moves.
Kobayashi Issa 

Ducks bobbing on the water-
are they also, tonight,
hoping to get lucky?
Kobayashi Issa 

At sunset this fall 
Evening, I wrote on a wall: 
I've gone on ahead
Kobayashi Issa 

Dew evaporates
And all our world is dew 
. . . so dear,
So fresh, so fleeting
Kobayashi Issa 

my fishing line -
the summer moon. 
Kaga no Chiyo (1703-1775)

My life, -
How much more of it remains?
The night is brief.
Masaoka Shiki 

First autumn morning
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face.
Murakami Kijo (1865 – 1938)

Winter waves
their own shadows
Tominaga Fûsei (1885-1970).

Pale mountain sky:
cherry petals play
as they tumble earthward
Kusama Tokihiko (1920-2003)




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