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Brushing Zen Calligraphy: Turning the Light Inward

At our zoom Shodō calligraphy in March, we brushed the beautiful zen phrase Ekō -henshō 回向返照, meaning ‘turning the light inward and illuminating the self’, or ‘turning facing, answering with light’.

Brushing Zen Calligraphy: Turning the Light Inward

Blair talked about the meanings of the phrase and use in Master Dogen’s meditation text Fukanzazengi, exploring the meanings visually within each individual kanji.

We brushed the four kanji characters together in three styles (tensho, gyōsho and sōsho) to embrace the visual background and development of the characters. They are very funky and inspirational kanji with lots of room for expression!

Brushing Zen Calligraphy: Turning the Light Inward

The group enjoyed working on the four kanji together, in very varied and cursive styles this month. Here are some words Blair read, with the zen text of the phrase in the second –

Looking over,
There are neither flowers nor tinted leaves,
the rush-thatched cottage in the inlet
in the autumn twilight


‘..stop searching for phrases and chasing after words. Take the backward step and turn the light inward.’

Master Dogen, Fukanzazengi

Thanks to everyone for taking part, especially Robin the calligraphic cat, and those who shared work for this post 😀

Calligraphic Cat