Way back in 2005 (seems like a long time ago) I received an answer to a prayer I was consistent about. I had been praying for an opportunity to do an artwork with wood that was a spiritual art form. I had tried different crafts with wood, but none really “sank” deep into my spirit. They all were appreciated by friends and buyers but didn’t “move” me.
After meeting with a suiseki enthusiast, I began making daizas for stones. After making approximately 10 or so, I was sitting in the shop carving and it occured to me that I didn’t even know much about the art form I was creating. I knew it went with the bonsai tree (which at that time I didn’t even know much about) and the stones were beautiful and that I really liked collecting them and carving the daiza. Finishing them off with the daiza was like putting a frame on a photo, it finished it completely. Now, I have learned from books that the art form of suiseki was started by Buddhist priests over 2000 years ago and I thought, “Buddhist PRIESTS??” Why by such spiritual men.
Most every one I know only looks at suiseki as a beautiful art form but say nothing about the spirit of it. They even call it simply “Viewing Stones”. Well, one day I was reading my spirituality books and in one of them, it has a glossary of words and their metaphysical meaning in ancient scriptures and writings. It dawned on me to look up the word “stone”.
It said that in ancient “oriental” style writings, like the bible and others, the spiritual meaning of the word stone was “thought”. It said , for example , that in the story of David and Goliath in the bible that the “smooth small stone” that David killed the Giant with was the thought he spoke before the giant. He basically proclaimed that Goliath followed fear and that he (David) followed the spirit of love and that the giant was going to lose this battle because love conquers fear.
Apparently, all old scriptures have dual meanings in a lot of key words. “Stones” are large thoughts, “pebbles” are small thoughts. A “rock” is a solid thought. A “smooth stone” is a well “polished” or contemplated thought. “Trees” represent thoughts leading up to God. “Birds of the air” represent spiritual thoughts “flying” around in the mind. It goes on and on.
This started me thinking. All of the stories of Buddha, Confucius, Jacob, Muhammad, Jesus and other spiritual minded men of old ALL had some form of the word “stone” with them or near them during times of enlightenment. Sitting on a stone , laying their head on a stone, looking at a stone, praying on a stone, etc. So, this tells me that the Buddhist priests were seeing and using the stones as a spiritual contemplative focal point. Like a mountain stone representing a “mountain” in your life. This changed the way I feel when I am making daizas for stones, looking at stones and especially collecting stones. Now, before I go collecting, I actually focus and meditate on a stone WANTING me to find it. Needing to be found and appreciated like a thought of love. I believe the stone attracts me instead of me finding it.
Now, with my new passion in the meaning of the word stone, I went looking for people to share in conservation about this subject but to my surprise, nobody seems to want to. There are books on Wabi-Sabi and are very enjoyable but no one seems to want to discuss that either. Is no one interested in the beliefs and roots of this art form? What were these men that started this thinking? Can we enjoy more of this art form than just the physical aspect. Can we do more than compartmentalize and criticize and classify the stones?
How about asking what the stone means to the owner? It could mean more than a remembrance where they found it or a place it looks like. Like a bonsai tree, it can represent a “thought” or feeling. It is so nice to hear other people recently writing blogs and articles about the meaning behind this art form. Let’s talk! Let’s discuss it! Let’s share our FEELINGS about and stories of what the stone means to us or what it reminds us of. Let us take the time for this.