Friday, January 15, 2010

Good Housekeeping: Zen-Inspired Gardens, Designed to Restore the Soul

Zen-Inspired Gardens, Designed to Help Restore the Soul

     'Zen' is a shortened word for 'zenna' from the Sanskrit term 'dhajanam' which means meditation or contemplation, a Japanese philosophy which is the foundation of the Zen Buddhism and culture, according to The Buddhist Channel website. The garden is both  a philosophical statement and an object of aesthetic appreciation and aim to imitate nature. 

     According to Maureen Katemopoulos of, Zen gardens are not exclusive to Japan. Their simplicity and beauty are admired and emulated all over the world and take many different forms based on the original principles of Zen garden design. The 15th century dry garden of Roanji in Kyoto, Japan is a fine example of classic Zen garden where rocks represent mountains or other formation which are surrounded by sand that is carefully raked to simulate the rhythmic motion of water and waves. 

     Yes, indeed, Zen gardens in the Philippines have taken many forms and designs--from the simple classic gardens which uses tall lean bamboos with rounded bamboo bushes and plants at their foot, white and gray pebbles and stones lined in the classic ripple against blue grass,  to designs which incorporate real waterfalls and ponds which are inspired by Balinese designs. What is important is that the 'minimalist' concept of zen gardens are maintained in the landscape designs which we see in Asian-inspired and modern homes and buildings, in parks and in small pockets of condominium units and offices here in the Philippines. 

     The post adds that the key to the Zen garden design is  total serenity--a place to sit and meditate and "restore your spirits".  For us Christians, we don't need to restore our spirit because it has already been renewed through Christ. But we appreciate the simplicity of the Zen-inspired garden, the relaxation that it brings especially with the sound of rippling waters that many Philippine Zen-inspired gardens provide. Coming from a hectic day, it's a relief to sit in the middle of greenery against a backdrop of tall bamboos swaying against the wind, read a Bible, and pray, thus helping to restore our soul.


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