Thursday, June 28, 2012

Japanese Garden and Poetry at the Johnson Museum

Yesterday, there was a poetry writing event in the Japanese Garden of the Johnson Museum in Ithaca.  What a lovely, inspiring site to meditate, reflect, and write!  Peter Fortunato led the group with some intro lines and we wrote and wrote.  I would not say I came up with any poetry, but it was fun, inspirational, and relaxing.  There is another session of poetry on July 25th if you are in the area and interested. Just call the museum.

Tree that came from Pennsylvania and was trimmed to appear as a Japanese tree

Moss on the floor under the tree

Stone representing one of the wise elders

Tiger Glen represented by stones collected in Connecticut for the project
Here are some photos I took while sitting there.  The story of Tiger Glen, after which Marc Keane designed the garden, is an interesting tale.  The following is from the Marc Keane website (

The Tiger Glen is the setting of a famous Chinese parable, often reproduced in Chinese and Japanese paintings. In the story three men, each of whom represents a philosophy or religion, experience a flash of enlightenment and mutual understanding. The story goes that Huiyuan, a Buddhist priest, lived in seclusion from society in his mountain temple, swearing never to leave its precincts by crossing the nearby Tiger Glen. One day, he was visited by two close friends: Tao Yuanming, a Confucianist, and Lu Xiujing, a Daoist. Late in the day, as he saw them off, Huiyuan was so lost in friendly conversation that he unwittingly crossed the Tiger Glen. At this, the three men broke out laughing, realizing true wisdom surpasses a strict adherence to dogma.

The Garden of the Tiger Glen, recreates the parable in abstract in the form of a sculptural garden. A simple field of green moss is split by a cleft that represents the glen. A “torrent” of small stones runs through the glen. Three upright boulders are set to evoke the three characters. They have qualities that are peaceful, sculptural and humorous all at once. Their position represents the moment of enlightenment in the story. One pine tree represents the deep mountains.

Although the historical parable urges understanding between three Asian religions, the garden can also be interpreted in broader terms to be promoting mutual understanding between any diverse groups. Right now in the world, there are any number of situations where diverse groups compete violently with each other. The message of the garden — that true wisdom is found beyond divergent philosophies — is a good one for people to contemplate as they sit with the garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment