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Thread: Shakyo Practice Circle #1, May 2021

  1. #1

    Shakyo Practice Circle #1, May 2021

    Hello, everyone!

    Here is the first Shakyo Practice Circle video:



    Thank you for your practice. Please feel free to post pictures of your work, and please do add any questions or comments for discussion with the group.

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  2. #2
    That is a beautiful introduction, Geika.

    Thank you to everyone who is trying this practice. As Geika said, in our Treeleaf Shakyo group, we are simply undertaking writing with playfulness and a light heart, not overly concerned with the "right" stroke order or orthodox form in writing that characters, or the meaning of the words we are writing. It is thus something like chanting the Heart Sutra in Japanese where we might study the teaching at other times but, during the actual time of chanting, we do not need to worry about our perfect voice, the meaning of each word, and just let the power of the sound and music wash through us.

    Do keep a nice posture, as Geika said, and breathe easily, naturally and deeply from the diaphragm if possible. However, stay relaxed and light in heart.

    Although it is absolutely NOT important for you to worry about the "correct" way of writing these Kanji in order for you to undertake this practice, I thought it might be interesting for you to have a little understanding about what Chinese characters are, how to write them, and the meaning of what you are writing today. (However, after I explain a little, then forget about everything I said and JUST WRITE! )

    Characters (called "Kanji" in Japanese) developed thousands of years ago, probably from symbols placed on bone and wood used in divination ceremonies in ancient China. Gradually, they came to represent words, either singularly or in combinations. For example, "Shakyo," which we are practicing, is a word made of two characters: 写経, the first character of which (写) means "to copy" or "transcribe," and the second of which (経) means "Sutra" (although both can have some other meanings too, only semi-related, e.g., 経 also means "longitude" and "pass through."). So, together, 写経/Shakyo means "copying Sutras." Sometimes, Kanji might actually "look like" what they mean, e.g., the character for "mountains" (山) looks just like mountains. Other characters might have the meaning depicted in the character's parts (e.g., the character 経 has the part 糸 in it, which means "thread" which is what "Sutra" actually means, as it was leaves sewn together), but other characters or parts of characters may just be there for sound, or simplified versions of older, more complicated ways of writing, or for reasons that nobody remembers!

    Characters can sometimes be used too only because they have the right sound, more than for meaning. So, for example, while 写経 literally means "copying Sutras," the mantra at the end of the Heart Sutra which begins "Gate Gate Para Gate," pronounced something like "(I) Got (the letter) A" and "Para(chute)," in Chinese is written 揭 諦 揭 諦 波 羅 揭 諦 just because those Kanji sound like "Gate Gate Para Gate," and NOT for the meaning of each Kanji.

    Kanji can be written in various styles, for example, the following are all the same characters: The script at left is more ancient style and decorative for use on ink stamps, the scripts in the middle are more "cursive," while we will be tracing more the "standard" script style at the far right.



    As Geika said, when one "properly" writes Chinese characters, one pays attention to the order of each stroke, the shape of each stroke, the overall balance of each character as a whole, and the balance among all the characters in a document together. Here is a little gif showing stroke order, for example in this Kanji for "water":



    If you wish to study how to write Chinese characters right, well, you will need a good teacher of proper Chinese or Japanese writing. Geika and I don't want you to worry about that in undertaking this exercise. Put your heart into each character, and follow the patterns provided. Breathe nicely, write slowly, do not rush. Do your best to come close to the model provided. That is enough.

    Next lesson, Geika or I will add a little about the meaning of the sentences you are actually writing. Don't even be concerned about that this first time.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-05-2021 at 11:37 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    thank you, Geika. This was a very good introduction for me. It took away my last hesitancies to begin this practice!



    aprapti


    sat

    Let silence take you to the core of life (Rumi)


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  4. #4
    As Jundo says, it's not that important to know the order of the strokes, but over time, learning it makes it a lot easier to write. In fact, once you've learned the stroke order for a bunch of characters, you can figure it out for many others. There is a logic to the stroke order, and Chinese and Japanese people can spot when you've written a character with the wrong stroke order. (It's kind of like having an accent when writing.)

    I took a Chinese calligraphy course many moons ago, together with a Chinese language course, and was fascinated by this style of writing. If I had more time, I would get back into it (though I have a tremor, so my calligraphy would probably be pretty ugly.)

    Tracking characters is very useful; I remember using workbooks with outlines of strokes printed, and the exercise was to fill those strokes, then characters.

    Because of that course, and some work I did on a journal about the Yi Jing back in the day, I came to appreciate the beauty of these characters, which express much more than western letters or words.

    I recently spotted a book about Japanese calligraphy which could be good for anyone wanting to learn more about ideographic writing:

    https://amzn.to/3uhfGBU

    It looks at a number of characters, and how they're composed.

    Kaz Tanashashi also has a book about calligraphy; there's no "look inside" on Amazon, so I don't know what's in it, but I suspect it will be interesting as well.

    https://amzn.to/3tkE44n

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    sat
    Last edited by Ryumon; 05-05-2021 at 11:16 AM.
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryumon View Post
    .

    Kaz Tanashashi also has a book about calligraphy; there's no "look inside" on Amazon, so I don't know what's in it, but I suspect it will be interesting as well.
    here is the content of the book:

    CONTENTS
    Preface ix
    Part One: AN INTRODUCTION TO EAST ASIAN CALLIGRAPHY
    1. What Is Ideography? 3
    2. The Evolution of Styles 7
    3. Shall We Begin? 11
    4. The Basic Strokes in Formal Script 16
    3. Applied Strokes in Semicursive and Cursive Scripts 23
    6. Aspects of Ideography 24
    7. Modes of Study 27
    8. The Mental Approach 29
    Part Two: MASTER SAMPLES AND STUDY 31
    Part Three: INSIDE CALLIGRAPHY 339
    9. Aesthetics in Formal Script 341
    10. Aesthetics in Semicursive and Cursive Scripts 344
    11. The Heart of Creativity 348
    12. Contemporary Art and International Art 350
    13. Continuous Practice 354
    14. Artist Names and Seals 357
    15. Mounting Artwork 359
    16. Studying Online 361
    17. A Breakthrough with the Brush 363
    Appendices
    List of Radicals 367
    List of Compounds 370
    List of Technical Terms 378
    List of Ancient Chinese Artists 382
    Recommended Supplies and Tutorial Video 386
    Selected Bibliography 387 Photography Credits 388 Acknowledgments 389 About the Author 390


    Part two gives a lot of samples; here is one boekomslag_4.jpg



    aprapti

    sat
    Last edited by aprapti; 05-05-2021 at 10:37 PM.

    Let silence take you to the core of life (Rumi)


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  6. #6
    Thank you for beginning this practice - it was thoroughly enjoyable
    1.jpg
    2.jpg

    Gassho
    Satoday

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mdkaek View Post
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    beautiful

    gassho, shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  9. #9
    I give up, I've been trying for a week to post my pics but no matter what I do they are too big. Anyway I've finished the Sutra, I got going and couldn't stop it was very fun and relaxing, ready to start another one.
    I have bought 4 Japanese writing books plus a pen set with a hard brush and soft brush. Thank You Geika and Jundo.

    P.S. The pens I use are Japanese brush pens.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Heitou
    平桃

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Heitou View Post
    I give up, I've been trying for a week to post my pics but no matter what I do they are too big. Anyway I've finished the Sutra, I got going and couldn't stop it was very fun and relaxing, ready to start another one.
    I have bought 4 Japanese writing books plus a pen set with a hard brush and soft brush. Thank You Geika and Jundo.

    P.S. The pens I use are Japanese brush pens.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Hi Heitou,

    You don't have to post photos but, if you want to try, there are online free resizing tools ...

    https://www.google.com/search?q=onli...hrome&ie=UTF-8

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  11. #11
    20210505_212037_2.jpg

    Thank You Jundo, I didn't know you could do that.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Heitou
    平桃

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Heitou View Post
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    20210511_212536.jpg
    What are these last four lines. I know one is for your name and another is for a prayer (I think) which is which.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Last edited by Heitou; 05-12-2021 at 01:33 AM.
    Heitou
    平桃

  14. #14
    Lovely work, you guys!

    Ryumon, thank you for the links.

    Heitou, I wish I could answer your question... maybe someone will spot your question and help

    Gassho
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Heitou View Post
    20210511_212536.jpg
    What are these last four lines. I know one is for your name and another is for a prayer (I think) which is which.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Well, those say

    Hannya Shingyo (Heart Sutra) 般若心経

    Then the reason for your writing, like a hope or dedication, "tame" 為

    Then the date 日付

    The your name 名前

    But Geika, why are they there? I intentionally cut them off the version that I sent you for everyone to download. Did you use a different one from what I sent? (Geika, Heitou answered my question next post )

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jjL...ew?usp=sharing

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 05-12-2021 at 07:18 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  16. #16
    Jundo, I ordered a kit from Amazon and it come to me that way. I didn't know you wanted us to leave it out. That's my bad.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Last edited by Heitou; 05-12-2021 at 07:15 AM.
    Heitou
    平桃

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Heitou View Post
    Jundo, I ordered a kit from Amazon and it come to me that way. I didn't know you wanted us to leave it out. That's my bad.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Oh, no, nothing wrong with having that at all . You can write a short dedication or hope in the space below 為 .

    Gassho, Jundo
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  18. #18
    Roger That. Thank You for the explanation.

    Gassho
    Heitou
    SatToday
    Heitou
    平桃

  19. #19
    I'm so glad to found this in good time as I've been trying this at home.

    I bought a copy sheet of the Heart Sutra from Amazon Japan (though they are everywhere here in Japan - all stationary stores seem to have them) - so no need for tracing paper plus a cross between a fountain pen and calligraphy brush - so no dipping in ink. However, I found controlling the brush for the small scale work quite hard and my first attempt was rather messy. I also tried to do it sitting seiza on a low table and that got me tense towards the end. I will do it a bit at a time in future and try doing it on a normal table. I've done it in seiza and at normal height tables in Japan, there seems to be no rule about that.

    I also found a book for tracing Buddhist images in a similar and tried doing an Amida Buddha image yesterday - the pen seems to be better suited for this, at least in my hands. buddhist picture copying book.jpgamida copy 1.jpg

    I did enjoy doing this very much though.

    Stewartheart sutra copy 1.jpgheart sutra copy sheets.jpg
    Satcalligraphy brush pen.jpg

  20. #20
    My sheets have the same lines on them.

    Stewart
    Sat

  21. #21
    It all looks so good! For mine I used a fine point Sharpie, but I also have a small calligraphy type brush that I'll try next. About halfway through I started to wonder if I was even right side up, but since I can't read it anyways I figured it didn't much matter! Thank you Geika for the video, and Jundo for the in depth discussion, and all others for the inspiration!

    Gassho,

    Bokuchō
    SatToday/LaH

    Sent from my SM-N986U using Tapatalk

  22. #22
    Lovely work, Stewart and Bokuchō!

    Bokuchō, you did well with the thickness on a thin sharpie! I tried it, and it was a bit difficult for me.

    Gassho,
    Sat, lah
    求道芸化 Kyudo Geika
    I am just a priest-in-training, please do not take anything I say as a teaching.

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