This scroll presents a very dynamic image, which conveys action even before you read the message of “Turn Your Mind Around.” The artist has given the kanji a feeling of rotation and of following a new path, which visually emphasize the message. It suggests that by actively shifting your point of view, you can gain a new perspective, find new insight, and potentially reach a new conclusion. At the very least, a different approach to familiar experiences can help us find new appreciation and meaning for them.
For 2 of the 3 scrolls on display this week, Gunji-sensei intentionally did not provide English translations. This forced us to appreciate the kanji for its artistic form, the texture and movement of the brushwork, and the feelings or impressions that it invokes. The first thought I had when looking at the calligraphy was that it resembled a magnolia blossom with outward spreading petals. Though the brushstrokes were made in a downward motion, the resulting impression is one of rounded forms (e.g., petals, air, spirits) rising upward. No one in class could provide a correct translation for this scroll. Gunji-sensei revealed that it meant “kokoro,” a word whose meaning of “heart/mind/spirit” we should be familiar with as students of tea philosophy. Knowing this definition I can see how the character suggests a physical human heart with its 4 muscular chambers spreading energy outward.
The more recognizable character for kokoro was featured on another of this week’s scrolls (translation: turn your mind around). I did a Google Image search for “kokoro,” but I did not see anything that looked like the magnolia/heart scroll. Is it supposed to be the same kanji as the one in “Turn your mind around?” If I turn my head sideways and use my imagination, I can identify the analogous strokes. If indeed they are the same, the one is a highly stylized version. Regardless, the calligraphy is certainly unique and strikingly beautiful. Its originality and surprise meaning add to the enjoyment of it.
~ Jennifer C.
Tea students in the Urasenke Urbana-Champaign association