Way of the Brush
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The underlying purpose of many of the traditional Japanese arts is to learn how to calm the mind and rejuvenate the body, through constant discipline and practice in the techniques of the Way (do).

Shodo is the "Way of Brush Writing."

text on this page from "Shodo", by William Reed

Language is analytical, temporal, and linear. Art is Gestalt, presentational, and immediate. Language and art are both forms of thinking, and Shodo is both language and art. Containing elements of both, it helps us to think with both sides of the brain.


When properly used, the brush can help the student integrate the mind and body. It not only renews the self within, but offers a visible trace of this renewal, in the form of balanced characters and well-executed strokes...

ricestem calligraphy


The bee draws nectar from the flower, and produces honey. The silkworm chews the mulberry leaf, and produces a fine silken thread. Each consumes a nutrient, and produces something entirely different. In the same way, we must ingest the Calligraphy of the past, and create something of our own for the present. Only by transforming the work of others, can we create something uniquely our own.


... This can be a powerful tool in an age of alienation like the present. Alienation is a feeling of separation within. Urban life can cause us to feel cut off from nature. Working for a large and impersonal organization may cause us to feel cut off from other people. But neither of these is as alienating as the feeling of being cut off from one's self.


Although the purpose of education is to develop human potential, the achievements of genius remind us that few people use more than a fraction of that potential. It usually takes a crisis, within or without, to bring latent talent to the surface. In Japanese, a crisis (kiki) is known as a dangerous opportunity. If we focus on the negative aspects of a situation, then it defeats us. If we focus on the postive aspects, then it integrates our strength, and brings out the best in us.

Most of our educational and work standards are set so low that daily life seldom provides the challenges necessary for growth. Though the opportunities may be available, there is not often much social support to pursue them. The only way to integrate and develop your latent strengths is to practice solving problems, until the coordination of mind and body becomes second nature.

In other words, it is possible to improve yourself by practicing a discipline which is too difficult to take casually, yet tangible enough to provide feedback and practical results. This is the thinking behind many of the Zen inspired traditions of China and Japan, which have refined this process through many specialized brances of the arts: Zen archery and swordsmanship, the Noh theater, the tea ceremony, landscape gardening, ceramics, and calligraphy. These arts offer a way of integration to the mind which is divided from itself.