The Wu Wei Stories
This series of stories started out with
wanting to do a set of drawings based on
an item of traditional Japanese dress
- a carved ivory or wood toggle called a Netsuke.
I imagined netsuke style figures in bonsai landscapes.
"Wu Wei" can be translated in many ways:
the wayless way, non-action, not doing,
without action, control, effort.
can be thought of as 'actionless action' or 'effortless doing'.
I think it can also be translated as 'flow'; ie. those moments when
we are so involved in what we are doing
that 'we' are not there
- there is just the doingness of the doing.
Flown is the first in the series,
an early morning incident involving
Basho & Hyajuko, two zen monks.
Basho was a real person - a famous Japanese poet.
He went on a "cloud pilgrimage" and travelled all over Japan
- which was an extremely dangerous thing to do
in medieval times.
The second story in the series is entitled Moon.
The moon is a continuing motif in zen stories.
This one takes place in winter high in the mountains.
The third is entitled Sakura which, most of you will know,
is the Japanese word for "cherry blossom".
The cherry blossom holds a special place
in the heart of the Japanese people and in the heart of zen.
It represents the fleeting evanescence of life.
And for the Samurai the cherry blossom was a potent symbol of a life
that could be lost
at any time
in the service of his trade.
A seeming rivalry between an enlightened teacher
not quite so close to being enlightened yet teacher.
* * *