An Evening with Zen Master Shodo Harada Roshi

Zen Master Shodo Harada Roshi practices the art of calligraphy. Photo by Mitra Bishop
NMMA News:

Calligraphy’s long and rich history in Japan both as an art form and teaching device is well suited to Zen’s emphasis on immediate, unhesitating, and spontaneous expression.

Weaving in an aural overview of calligraphy’s history as he works skillfully with brush and ink, Zen Master Shodo Harada Roshi will share his personal journey both as a monk and with this spiritual art form.

Roshi’s presentation is 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 26  in the St. Francis Auditorium, inside the New Mexico Museum of Art in Santa Fe. Tickets are $5 at the  door.

Creating traditional long scrolls in the auditorium, he will demonstrate the process behind this Zen practice.Shodo, the art of Japanese calligraphy, differs from other creative work in that there is a direct mind-body connection—a being at one with the work. While the work appears uncomplicated, great meaning is attached to line, shape, and space.

Phrases on the scrolls most often represent familiar sayings or poems from Zen wisdom or Chinese and Japanese literature. The scrolls are traditionally hung in temples, tea rooms, and individuals’ homes.

Shodo Harada Roshi, an esteemed Zen master in the Rinzai tradition, is the Abbot of Sogenji, a seventeenth-century Rinzai Zen monastery in Okayama, Japan.

He has served in this position for the past thirty years. He is also abbot of Tahoma-san Sogenji Monastery on Whidbey Island, Freeland, Washington.

From the beginning of his tenure at Sogenji, Harada Roshi has welcomed Westerners to study with him, and he travels internationally to train students.

“Given New Mexico’s affinity for art and spiritual practice, we are delighted to present this intriguing and evocative evening with a renowned master of an important art form. We hope this will reach a wide audience and welcome new visitors to our museum,” said Mary Kershaw, director of the New Mexico Museum of Art.

Translator Daichi-Priscilla Storandt is teaching partner, translator, and facilitator for Shodo Harada Roshi. Their deep mutual understanding allows the Roshi to speak uninterrupted, as Daichi takes in his words like a developing tapestry, and then translates the tapestry into words when he pauses. 

A closed-circuit video feed onto a large screen will provide the audience an almost up-close viewing experience. The scrolls will be on view after the demonstration.

This will be an evening of personal exploration, reflection, learning, and contact with a Zen master.

Members of the Whidbey Island monastery and the greater One Drop Zen community will be present to answer questions and to dialogue with the audience about their spiritual community. This event is co-presented with the international One Drop Zen Community.

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