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Home > History > Buddhist Garden
Buddhist Garden
Buddhist GardenBuddhism originated from the foothills of the Himalayas (c600 BC) and it is understandable that the Mountains came to be thought of as the place of the Gods. Mount Sumeru (Mount Meru in Hinduism) was believed to be at the centre of the world. Buddha spoke to his followers in the Deer Park of Isipatana and groves of trees became an important aspect of Buddhist sacred space.

The Buddhist term vihara (literally `pleasure garden of a monastic precinct`) came to denote the monastic dormitory and hall. A chaitya is any sacred place (tree, spring, lake etc.). A stupa was originally a burial place but many stupas do not contain relics and the term is now used for any Buddhist shrine with a circular mound form. A building containing a stupa is called a `chaitya hall`. Stupas are frequently placed on hills and the upward journey symbolises the journey to heaven. One of the greatest stupas is at Barabudur in Java: `The stupa is in a long, fertile valley, again on top of a small hill, nestling against a protective backdrop of mountains. The whole field is thus the nave of the chaitya; the hill the stupa`s pedestal; and heaven above its arched ceiling. As the mist rises from the foothills of the valley, this enormous monument reveals its volatile silhouhette, light as the rising crest of a wave... Waiting for [the pilgrim] above are the square terraces representing this world, and the circular terraces representing the world of God... Treading the right path to the Mountain of God, he knows that he is heading for the Supreme Truth`. (Nelson I Wu, p 19). Small stupas also use square bases with circular structures above.

Though originally an Indian religion, Buddhism almost disappeared from India after the thirteenth century, except in the Himalayan region. The depredations of Turkic invaders contributed to its demise but in many respects it was also absorbed into Hinduism.

Pure Land Buddhism and garden design
 Land Buddhism and garden designThe Pure Land sect teaches that repeating the Buddha`s name, and worshiping him, will make entry to paradise more likely. The making of Buddhist gardens in Japan was inspired by Pure Land Buddhism, imported from China. The Mandala, showing Buddha with a temple and a garden inspired the making of gardens with equivalent symbolism. Mandala is a sanskrit word meaning circle, polygon and community. It is used by Buddhists as a symbol of a person in the world, and the universe, as an aid to meditation. The mandala shows a palace with four gates facing the four corners of the earth. A lotus blossom is at the center. It has four petals and rests on a bed of jewels. The gates are guarded by doorkeepers.

Zen Buddhism and garden design
Zen Buddhism and garden design`Zen` is a Japanese version of the Chinese word `Ch`an`, meaning meditation, and describes the Meditation School of Buddhism which reached China, from India, c 520 CE and was then introduced to Japan, from China, in 1191 CE. It was carried by a monk (Esai) who had been sent on a mission to China and returned to found monasteries in Japan (the Renzai sect). Esai also introduced the tea ceremony to Japan, because tea was regarded as an aid to meditation. In the sixteenth century, the tea ceremony led to the development of stroll gardens in Japan. Zen Buddhism was also taught through archery, so that the bowman could hit a target `without aiming`. Satori (`enlightenment`) should come suddenly and spontaneously, without conscious striving. Likewise with happiness: it comes from the pursuit of another goal, not from its own pursuit. Making a fine garden can contribute to enlightenment and contentment. It requires skill, artistic judgement, understanding of nature - and constant practice. Thus gardening can be a religious activity.

Buddhist Garden Gardening in Ancient.. Gardening Through Th..
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