one stroke

This is a one-stroke Daruma.  Kaz Tanahashi is the master of the one-stroke painting.  Good teachers are skilled in the one-stroke teaching.

Sohan Gempo (1848-1922) brushed a representation of the seated Bodhidharma with one flourish of his brush (below right).  The “flying white” (dry brush technique that leaves white spaces in the stroke) gives the seated Patriarch a feeling that he is dissolving away into the wall he faces.  This is Bodhidharma at the end of his practice.  Body has fallen away, mind has fallen away.  All that remains are the vestiges of form: nose and down-turned mouth.

The inscription reads:

The old wall-gazer’s form
seen from behind –
springtime of flowers.

I worry about practising so intensely that my arms and legs fall off.  Perhaps I can continue if I hold onto the meager hope that this too is an allegory: a challenge, as Barry of Ox Herding explained in his post Try Try Try, to not stop for 10, 000 years, to keep only what is necessary, and then to let that fade too.

Simply try until all that is left is one-stroke.

Thank you for practising,


Image from Seo & Addiss, The Art of 20th Century Zen

4 thoughts on “one stroke

  1. What a great week!
    I’ve never seen a one-stoke Dalma-do (Korean name) before!
    It’s very Homeresc~ ()

    I keep wanting to say I can’t wait for tomorrow, but that wouldn’t speak very well of my practice! 😉
    thank you!

  2. Hello Everyone!

    I’ve been consigned to hard labour for the last week and only got the mobile internet key yesterday. So had time to enjoy your comments via email but not respond. (At least Facebook is accessible via my BB!)

    This has been a terrific week seeing the posts generate more insights through your teachings. I hope it is evident that you have all contributed to my growth. I know so many other blogs and posts have equally contributed and I did try (too hard) to stick in everyone’s influence. But then, rolly-poly Daruma fell over and starting bopping everything in the room so I had to stop!

    Joseph, I’m really anxious about tomorrow… Yes, the world will not come to an end if it’s not up to expectations (mine or the world’s) but hey… we have practice so we can have angst… and vice versa!

    I’m still away on work through the weekend (another day, another town) so will check in on Monday for more!

    There’s cake and durian ice cream in the fridge for the Birthday Party! Leave me some!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.