artwork & words
by Duncan C. Mason

art & artistry & philosophy & inspiration & whimsy & wonder & nature

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.


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Two Temples

A seeming rivalry between an enlightened teacher

and a

not quite so close to being enlightened yet teacher.

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