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In Asian gardens without ponds or streams, sand and finer gravels are used to create a metaphor for water. Whether composed as a dry streambed, or in the great uniform seas that are raked to create a flowing or rippled effect, this is a most common way to cover areas of ground and to serve as the basis for organizing planting. The Japanese art of bamboo fence and gate making has yielded incredibly elaborate creations. Ponds, streams and waterfalls are beautiful elements in the modern Asian garden.

The Japanese tea garden features a path from the entry gate to the teahouse.

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Along that pathway, there will be a water basin with its accompanying bamboo utensils for ritual washing. The basins may be naturally hollowed out rock or beautiful containers created from carved stone, ceramic and bronze.

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Originally made of carved stone to hold oil lamps or candles, these artistic pagoda-shaped lighting fixtures are at home in Asian gardens. Of concrete or stone, small and squat or tall and elegant, these are the most common man-made features. Figures of Buddha in all his many cultural forms are the icons of Asian gardens.


Featured in contemplative spaces, they are both garden art and a vital part of Eastern spirituality. Whether simple cast concrete or more elaborate carved stone, ceramic or metals — nothing asserts the Asian style more thoughtfully. How to Create a Zen GardenFirst, define your space. Decide if you want to start with a small corner of your garden or transform your entire yard.

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  5. Give it rough edges, much like nature would create, rather than the straight lines of a formal garden. Next, sketch out a design. In that sense they also serve as active group meditations and as a counterbalance to the stillness and solitude of zazen. In combination with actual meditation training with a living teacher, the words of the old masters start to resonate on ever deeper levels and also serve as a testing device for true understanding.

    On Wednesday nights during the regular daily schedule and on every day during sesshin, Tenkei Roshi gives Teisho a live presentation of dharma often using for inspiration a koan, a short text by Dogen Zenji like chapters from Eihei Koroku or other examples of dharma literature.

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    And while a growing library gives ample opportunity for individual reading, there are various weekly study groups. In one that meets every Sunday morning, a classic Buddhist text is read one chapter at a time and discussed in the light of its practical application. The emphasis is on works by Dogen Zenji mostly Shobogenzo in various English translations , with commentaries by modern masters if available.

    On Monday nights the River of Zen group studies excerpts of texts in a historical sequence, from the early Indian sutras to the Chinese koans, the Japanese literature, and works of contemporary teachers. The Right Speech group, held on Tuesday afternoons, allows students to verbally present their understanding on a particular subject.

    Reconnecting with Nature

    Sometimes the subject is chosen beforehand, for example certain chapters of the Nikayas, the Lotus or other sutras, and sometimes Tenkei Roshi spontaneously raises an issue that suits the occasion. Either way, it provides opportunities for everyone to practice speaking up and to learn how to express the dharma in live words.

    Rather than a strict set of rules, they are all seen as springboards for meditation in action, offering suggestions for personal transformation in social interaction with others. Zen River functions as a spiritual community and offers ample opportunities for practicing Bodhisattva Activity during, for example, services, samu temple cleaning, kitchen duties, renovation projects, gardening, sewing, administration, etc. The hosting of other teachers and students from abroad, particularly from training temples in Japan, has also proven to be very useful in this respect since cultural differences help us to question our habitual behavioral norms.

    Engagement in Bodhisattva Activity within the conducive context of the temple, can provide the incentive and inspiration for practicing it in daily life circumstances beyond the temple.

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    Gradually, this can transform our character and lifestyle and clarify our particular Bodhisattva calling. Certificate of Excellence. View all 9 deals. Prices are the average nightly price provided by our partners and may not include all taxes and fees.

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