Japan art and Aoyama Seizan: Zen-style horses

Japan art and and Aoyama Seizan: Zen-style horses

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Aoyama Seizan produced amazing Zen-style horses. Accordingly, despite the limited use of color, a very atmospheric feeling persists.

Little is known about Aoyama Seizan. However, it is known that he was active in the 1920s and 1930s. Also, his series concerning Zen-style horses were created for the Shima Art Company.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art says, “The essential element of Zen Buddhism is found in its name, for zen means “meditation.” Zen teaches that enlightenment is achieved through the profound realization that one is already an enlightened being. This awakening can happen gradually or in a flash of insight (as emphasized by the Sōtō and Rinzai schools, respectively). But in either case, it is the result of one’s own efforts. Deities and scriptures can offer only limited assistance.”

Aoyama Seizan understood the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra. Accordingly, the art pieces of the horses in this article appear to pertain to a different law of movement that transcends reality.

Nichiren said, “Life is indeed an elusive reality that transcends both the words and concepts of existence and nonexistence. It is neither existence nor nonexistence, yet exhibits the qualities of both. It is the mystic entity of the Middle Way that is the ultimate reality. Myo is the name given to the mystic nature of life, and Ho, to its manifestations. Renge, which means lotus flower, is used to symbolize the wonder of this Law. If we understand that our life at this moment is Myo, then we will also understand that our life at other moments is the Mystic Law.” 

Overall, these stunning art pieces provide a sense of mystery and spirituality: even if “no hidden meaning” exists – apart from attaching new strands of openness.

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