Taste of tea # 1
is pure, simple and not pretentious.
is being patient, not enduring, in order to achieving concentration.
is a container of mind and soul to hold the taste of intellect.
is the moment of sipping, even when not sipping. It is nothingness.
รสชา หมายเลข ๑
“รสชา คือ การตระเตรียมที่ปราศจากการเปลี่ยนแปลงสัจจะใดๆของสรรพสิ่งหาก เป็นความจริงแห่งธรรมชาติอันสมถะที่มิได้เสแสร้ง
คือ ความอดทนโดยไม่อดกลั้นเพื่อค้นพบดุลยพินิจของประสบการณ์ทางสุนทรียะที่ก่อเกิดเอกัคตาสมาธิคือ ภาชนะที่โอบล้อมกาย จิต และวิญญาณให้มีโอกาสได้รองรับกับโอชาแห่งปัญญา
คือ หนึ่งจิบสู่จิบแล้วจิบเล่า หรือแม้ไร้ซึ่งจิบ แต่ก็เท่ากับสุญตา”
Tea residue # 2
Tealeaves suffuse with water
Tea is pouring from the bottom of the heart
Bottomless heart …leaving behind no residue
เศษชา หมายเลข ๒
Tea of Wisdom Collection
Not only related to internal world; life, mind and self-awareness, Zen philosophy also relates to external world, which is environment. We can understand principles of medication and nature through different art forms, especially the ones wisely designed to encourage audience�s participation. The same principle is translated as a basis to design jewellery. I intend to combine Zen philosophy into this collection as the art of jewellery also interacts with human body.
Oriental world believes that body and mind are united. Focused mind is a powerful tool to overcome any obstacle. Science seems to support the idea. Nevertheless, for science, researching is a critical process to prove the assumption. This appears self contradicting, however. Scientific mechanisms experiment on chemical and physical reactions of a body. In this case, body and mind are already unintentionally separated. How is one supposed to improve his mind status by using physics or chemistry theories?
Some activities, for example, yoga, Aikido or dancing, require concentration and coordination of body and mind in order to �become one.� The Old Testament mentions how the world is perfectly created before it deteriorates. That might be the beginning of the endless search for perfection. It may sound exaggerating but our divined eternity needs to be cured.
The examples above show that body and mind are one; and not two separate elements. We feel better if a doctor shows his caring, not only treating a body effected with diseases. Medicine can only cure our physical existence. It will be the most effective only when the mind is also treated. This is when we accept the interrelation of body and mind. Only at this point we realise that the power of mind can be both a curer and a destroyer. It seems we often allow our mind to be more of a destroyer nowadays by letting our mind wanders, or losing focus.
As a result, I have studied different forms of art which are developed from Zen principle on interaction between senses, body reaction and mind. Tea ceremony best demonstrates the principle. I then take the philosophy as a basis and apply it with the art of jewellery.
Tea ceremony portrays delicate and sophisticated form of aesthetic. Despite the fact the not everyone will truly understand core value of it, we can still study the beautiful steps in order to purify our mind. To Zen philosophy, the ceremony is not intended to be as splendid as it�s perceived in Western view. On the other hand, it is meant for us to understand its simplicity. Without history, the tea ceremony is merely leisure for people who share the same taste, an activity which leads to many intellectual conversations.
In order to reach the core value of the ceremony, philosophers have carefully laid the foundation by selecting only the most ordinary items, even Wabi Sabi, mediocre. The ceremony often takes place in a small and simple thatched roof hut which implies purity of self-sufficiency. Around the hut, pine trees are lining up; small creek is flowing gently down the mountain. Once enter a small gate, one will be greeted by simple yet carefully landscaped garden. There is a small walkway which leads to a stone well. There is no rule to decorating the garden. There is no such thing as bad taste or good taste in Zen. We can observe how guests are warmly welcomed.
To truly appreciate a cup of tea is also a form of art. The audience has to be patient and attend the ceremony that lasts for almost 4 hours. It seems a life time if you have to kneel all through that time, not to mention you will always have to move according to certain postures. For example, there is a way to hold the teacup, contemplate it while discussing whether the cup is splendidly or simply moulded. Even how flowers are arranged has a meaning. Every element and step of the tea ceremony illustrates the utmost sensitivity of Japanese people to the nature and pure influence of Zen. Simplicity, perfection and patience are seamlessly combined in one ceremony.
Realising the Ideas
Inspired by the philosophy, I intend to create a piece of art which the audience can still appreciate even if they do not have any knowledge on chinaware. This is because a cup is moulded with technique which allows the audience to contemplate it, and eventually enter tranquil state of mind. Production process is designed in order that its final outcome will be perceived differently depending on personality, emotional status and thoughts of the audience. Universal definition of �beauty� or artistic skills is not as important here. Each individual can appreciate chinaware in different ways. Understanding rules of nature is a self-study process.
Fire and clay are somewhat uncontrollable. They affect colour, shininess and touch of a teacup. Once moulded, the cup may be enameled, painted or decorated in countless different ways. An individual has to be in charge from selecting a kind of clay, kneading, moulding, setting fire and paint the cup. That is why creating a teacup requires concentration and simultaneity. It reveals the inside of the individual at the time.
Appreciating a Teacup
The teacup created will be used during the ceremony. The individuals will experience its beauty and sophistication yet simple meaning while entering into peaceful and awaking state of mind. After the ceremony, the participants will bring home with them used tealeaves and create their own jewellery from it. This is intended for them to once again focusing and understanding the nature in them.
If the body and mind are separated, it may cause a problem to our eating habits. When we feel unhappy or yearn for something we cannot have, inside us is agonising. We may turn to food or medicine to help soothing the pain. We drink coffee in the morning so that caffeine will get rid of drowsiness and drive us through the day. We often eat fast food just to live by. Life without self awareness or intellect is like a plastic bag flying in the wind.
If the body and mind are united, we are fulfilled in every sense. Eating and drinking become enjoyable experience. We can see meanings in boiled vegetable, ripe fruits, beans or food containers. External environment help making the experience more amusing. We are thankful to the simplicity of life. Our mind and body are finally truly one.
Zen�s circle painting, enzo, always amazes us. A circle is absolute in itself yet it is full of mystery. This collection is inspired by Zen�s enzo. It is aimed to facilitate the audience to achieve the ultimate truth. Circle seems to be the simplest shape but when drawn, it is never perfect. For Zen masters, enzo reveals our true selves at that moment and our �self� is changing all the time. Enzo can be provoking and calming at the same time. How do Zen masters express complicated meanings with this simple shape? Why circle? Helmut Brinker explained that circle symbolises the �nothingness� in everything. He wrote in his book, Gateless Barrier, that it reveals the moment before the beginning. Even though we draw it, it is not drawn by us.
The simplicity of how the teacup is created and the philosophy is translated into this collection of jewellery. Every piece is moulded with clay in order to express the nature in me. It also reveals the nature of materials, every flaw or perfection created during the production.
Once tea is drunk up, I will see a gold ring lying at the bottom of the cup along with tealeaves. The gold ring which represents the philosophy is placed on a silver bar a little above the bottom of the cup. It implies the simplicity and the united body and mind which are sometimes neglected. Reflection of the circle created by the ring is a trace of the tea of truth; sometimes we notice it, sometimes we do not.
The answer does not lie on the taste of tea or appearance. It can only be an empty tea cup for some people. However, Zen�s enzo is captured in the circular shape of the ring, gold and leftover tealeaves. Except for the memory of the taste, meanings of the work differ from one person to the other. This collection of jewellery is a teacup of the mind!
The Natural Cycle Seen through Circles
Circles are symbolically used to illustrate our complete life cycle. Either in the forms of sun worship, tales, religious arts, circle shapes portray the liveliest aspect of human being�s existence: perfection. In every period of time, circles connote the sense of serenity and completion. Carl Jung once wrote in his work that circle �is the archetype of wholeness.�
There is evident connection between human beings and circles. We are embraced by the horizon circle. We live in the round shaped planet revolving around the sun under the gigantic illuminating dome. We are enhanced by the love of the moon. Arts place importance on the natural shape which reflects abstract circle. The artistic works range from round shaped ring to wheels. We decorate radius above the saints� heads and perform ritual sacred dance in a circle.
There are several examples of the use of circle in Buddhism. The Buddha�s doctrine is called the wheel of dhamma or the wheel of truth. Zen further elaborates this concept by stating that once the wheel of dhamma is moved, it can go into 2 directions. Tibetan Buddhism practices �Mandala,� concentric diagram portraying the universe and several aspects to reach spiritual tranquility. For Zen, it is called Enzo or circle drawing.
Enzo is the simplest form of Zen drawing. It is the symbol of enlightenment, power and the universe. It reveals the results of deeds and expression of present moment. Enzo is one of the most profound studies among zen painting, called zenga. It is believed that through Enzo drawing, the artists reveal their true characteristics clearly. Only those whose minds and spirits are fulfilled can draw a true Enzo. Some artists practice drawing an Enzo everyday as a kind of spiritual exercise.
Although the Enzo shape does not look complicated, its essence is difficult to reach and define. In a way, Enzo is simply a drawing of a circle done in one brush movement, in one breath. In another sense, the Enzo represents the completion of space. Some say Enzo has no true meaning while the others confirm it is indicative and demonstrates the continual action at a given time. When audience look at an Enzo painting, the painting communicates and is appreciated at different levels depending on the strength of the viewers� minds.
Enzo shapes are various from symmetrical paintings to abstract forms. The brushed ink may be thin and soft or thick and rough. A number of Enzo paintings are accompanied with short messages or lyrics called �San� written by the painters themselves or criticized by viewers to explicitly express religious or spiritual context of the paintings more profoundly. An Enzo painting functions as a clear metaphysical message or question, or as a demonstration to pinpoint or convey the nature of the truth. It reflects the artists� understanding that ultimately no words or paintings can completely describe the truth. Zen scholars attempt to convey this message in the most straightforward way to guide us the true nature of truth instead of having a sitdown explanation.
The significance of direct guidance under religious practice has been passed on and refined in Zen Buddhism. Bodhidharma, the Zen founder elaborated this tradition as follows:
��A special transmission outside the scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing to the human mind;
And realising the enlightenment.�
The guidance has many forms but one notable form of direct guidance which mostly relate to this paper is the use of art to introduce the minds to metaphysical questions which are the foundation of most zen teachings. For hundreds of years, the Enzo has been a guide to monks and practitioners to uncover the complicated questions posed by the masters. Sometimes, the Enzo itself is also present in the metaphysical questions
The Kamakura period (1200-1350 AD) marks the prosperity of the blending of zen culture. The art, lifestyle and religious teachings were unified and the art was developed into �Chado� or tea ceremony, bamboo flute, Japanese garden, Noh theatre, pottery, �Kyudo� or Japanese archery and most importantly �Shodo� or paintings and poems. �Do� means ways. These art forms are compared to �ways� because they are knowledge clues to polish the artists� self realization and understanding of the nature of the truth. Once all the knowledge is incorporated, it becomes known as �the artless art of zen.� The techniques have been passed on and used as the main tools to communicate the Zen�s truth.
Zen�s art is dissimilar to Buddhist art of other branches since it is not a symbol of other forms/objects. The objective of zen art is not to further refine the experiences of the adherents. The art is not used in worship, ceremony or praying. It is not even used to express disclosure, awakening or exposure of spiritual teaching. The zen art as a devine art form portrays what is beyond direct description. It helps transform our understanding towards ourselves and the universe and exemplify the abstract forms.
In traditional Zen art, paintings and scriptures are considered visual discourse. While poems convey the essence of Zen�s wordlessness, D.T. Suzuki wrote about these distinctive forms.
��The art of zen has no purpose for usage or aesthetic pleasure;
Its purpose is to intensely train the minds so that the minds can
communicate the ultimate truth��
John Daido Loori, Enso, UK: Weatherhill Boston& London, 2007, Page XIII
D.T. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, UK: Princeton University Press. 1959, Page 31
Besides, there is Zen�s heritage we are yet to discover in terms of culture, literature and art. When the roots of training and practices are deeply established, it is time to appreciate other aspects of this cultural heritage as well as to understand the artless art of Zen more thoroughly.
However, in the end, we should consider the irrational Enzo or the Enzo which does not guide to the existence of other being but itself. It stands alone completely impeccably and holds artistic value in itself. The Enzo is a self-reward, exists for itself and does not affect others but itself. The end result of this Enzo is Enzo.
��Just this one circle
No monk in the world can jump out��
The use of circle imagery in Buddhism can be traced back to Sakyamuni Buddha myth (around 563 B.C.). According to the Zen master, Yun-men, after his birth, the Buddha raised his hands and pointed them to heaven and took 7 steps in circle and proclaimed himself the honored one. Circumambulation of holy venues such as stupa was a Buddhist tradition since the old days. However, in the early Buddhism concepts, attention was more drawn into emptiness than circle symbol. This notion was most fully developed in the Kapimala period by the 13th Supreme Patriarch of India (2nd-3rd Century). Kapimala was referred in Japanese master Keizan Jokin�s Denkoroku (1268-1325). Jokin stated that �when you strike space it echoes, and thus all sounds are manifested; transforming emptiness to manifest myriad things is why shapes and forms are so various. Therefore you should not think that emptiness has no form, or that emptiness has no sound. When you furthermore investigate carefully on reaching this point, it cannot be considered void and it cannot be considered existent either.�
The Patriarch Kapimala disseminated his teachings to the Bodhisattva Nagarjuna who invited and gave him the wishfulfilling jewel. Bodhisattva Nagarjuna asked �this is the most valuable stone in the world. Does it have form or is it formless?� The Patriarch Kapimala answered �You only know of having form or not; you do not know that this jewel neither has form nor is formless. And you do not yet know that this jewel is not a jewel.� At that moment, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna became enlightened and became the 14th Patriarch. It is also believed that Bodhisattva Nagarjuna was the first to write Prajnaparamita-sutra or intellectual and awakening scripture which is the oldest chapter tracing back in 100 years before Christ. It is the scripture which is a foundation for Mahayana Buddhism. In this chapter, the notion of �empty space� reflecting �emptiness� or �nothingness� was much further developed than other writing pieces. Furthermore, this scripture brought about the concept of thusness, the highest state of existence, the 2 of which lead to the complete enlightenment. In other words, the current being is the perfect awakening. The result of these deeds shall not be increased nor reduced. The scripture chapter includes Mahaprajnaparamitahridaya-sutra, which state
��Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form;
Form does not differ from emptiness. Emptiness does not differ from form;
Victor Sogen Hori, Zen Sand, USA: University of Hawaii Press, 2003, Page 469
Whatever is form, there is emptiness. Whatever is emptiness, that is form;
Sensation, perception, volition, and consciousness, are also like this ��
In prajnaparamita-sutra, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna elaborated the concepts of relativity that all things exist only by virtue of their opposites. Therefore, all things are randomly relative but without underlying essence, in other words, empty. This ideal gradually filtered into Zen Buddhism. The idea of �thusness� is recognised in Zen as enlightenment in daily life and the appreciation of simple, ordinary experiences and objects, as well as the idea of being in the moment without distractions.
As the creation of Enzo increased, so did the variation of themes and inscriptions accompanying the circles. Although some Enzo appear without inscriptions, most include some phrase or verse reflecting an aspect of Zen teaching. Shibayama Zenkei wrote that �in that brief expression of an idea, you see the writer’s spirit. That is the implicit flavor of Zen. . . . The choice of the inscription comes from that; the choice of the inscription is an expression of spirit. As a zen person, my heart is pulled in ways I can�t explain.�
Most broadly, Enzo represent the vast qualities of the universe, conjuring up its grandness, limitless power, and natural phenomena. But Enzo can just as easily represent the void, the fundamental state in which all distinctions and dualities are removed: ‘Outside � empty, inside � empty, inside and outside � empty.’ Very often Enzo depict the moon, symbolizing enlightenment, but can also represent the moon’s reflection in water, symbolizing the futility of searching for enlightenment outside oneself. Less philosophically, Enzo can simply represent everyday objects such as a dumpling, rice cake, basket or tea cup and the concentrating mind focusing on the drinking at the current moment.
�A circle is a window. it is peace, silence, perfection, and harmony. It is whole and unified. In contrast, angular forms represent conflict, agitation, and excitement. They suggest omission, unevenness, the partial and the particular. The two concepts oppose each other. However, to look at a Zen Enzo from this point of view is an absurd mistake. A Zen Enzo is drawn round, but the circle’s center conceals angles and within a four-sided angle is concealed a circle. The circle and the angle both conceal oneness. Within the center of the Enzo, truth reveals the life and soul of the ordinary circle and angle. This is the superior, absolute circle.�
Hori, Numerous Buddhist Texts, Page 191
Shibayama Zenkei, Zenga No Enzo, Tokyo: Shunshusha, 1969, page 7
Get In Touch
Dr. Supavee Sirin-k-raporn
Full Time Lecturer
Silpakorn University, Bangkok Thailand,
Jewellery Artist and Designer
Tel. 662 623 6115
Mobile: 6689 742 5213
The Faculty of Decorative Arts, Department of Jewellery Design,
Silpakorn University, Bangkok Thailand
31 Naphralan Road