The Zen Circles of Kazuaki Tanahashi

teacher, translator, and calligrapher

Kazuaki Tanahashi, photographs by H. Seano Whitecloud

Kazuaki TanahashiThe brush is dipped into the shining liquid. With one breath, one continuous stroke, it arcs upward. Like the subtle moment when inhalation becomes exhalation, there’s an imperceptible pause at the pinnacle, and then the brush turns downward, slowly approaching where it began.

Sherry Chayat

Recycling is a central theme for society. . . Nothing can be extinguished. Energy is transformed into energy—but how do we recycle that energy with awareness? We are responsible for the future. Honoring, not disrupting, the natural cycle is a choice we can make.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

In a time of crisis, when we are approaching war or when a catastrophe is clearly about to happen, artists have to make a choice. We need to choose our passions, we need to decide where we can do the most good with our art and our writing. The circle is a reminder that each moment is not just the present, but is inclusive of our gratitude to the past and our responsibility to the future. It can shape our consciousness and inspire our actions.

Kazuaki Tanahashi

A master’s enso, tracelessly drawn in the air or pulled by the ink-laden brush across the blank paper, reveals the wholeness of being, the dance of the unconditioned. The form emerges from emptiness, holds emptiness; looking at the circle, we become aware of the space within and around the line: the vast realm of the formless.

Sherry Chayat

Excerpts selected from the forthcoming book Circle: The Zen Brushwork of Kazuaki Tanahashi by Sherry Chayat. Photographs by H. Seano Whitecloud.

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