We went over to one of the most famous Zen gardens today in Kyoto. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site for understandable reasons. Here’s the postcard image I took:
I hope I preserved the serenity of the place. And it is that serenity that was the subject of considerable thought as I walked around the grounds. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people at the site. Yackety yackety yack. I found it somewhat amusing to think that this zen master practiced silence as a personal art form. As a result of the UNESCO status, the grounds have now become the place of incessant talking and chattering as tourists and school kids carry on. Oh, I’m sure he would smile and be very Zen about it if he saw it today, so that made me smile.
However, what was even somewhat more amusing in an ironical sort of way was the commercialism that lined the streets up to the gate of the grounds. Every manner of trinket, postcard, gadget, and green tea food could be found. As a site built to escape the materialism of the world, it has now brought that materialism to its borders and even within them. There is, after all, a gift shop inside the walls. And as you make the last turn to exit the grounds, there is one last stand hoping to make a sale. To the extent that the chattering might have made the Zen master smile, I am not so sure about the conversion of the grounds, especially the immediate area outside the gates, to a completely crass sort of commercialism. He might have to meditate about that!