Jul 032012

An ancient Chinese tale explains that dogs are difficult to paint because they are so common; in contrast, demons are easy to draw because they are product of our imagination. This idea I first learnt from Alex Kerr’s controversial book “Dogs and Demons – Tales from the Dark Side of Japan”.

demonThinking back, all my efforts studying Zen and Japanese Arts was a process of searching demons and finding dogs. The shiny, much appreciated, rich of impressive effects teachers luckily never crossed my way …

In Martial Arts, Zen, Calligraphy and Shakuhachi at first I was attracted by super-human power and superficial beauty, but regularly ended up with teachers following a very plain and seemingly unattractive way. No cheap effects, no glory … and no high ranks or certificates to earn.

I must admit I often was full of doubt against my teachers and secretly imitated the “demons art” while learning their plain lessons. Are they cheating me? Are they just teaching the basics year after year, and I miss any advanced lesson? Will I ever be able to do the real thing?

It took me many years to understand the secret behind dogs and demons. The plain calligraphy, the sober Aikido and Iaido style I learnt, the frugal Shakuhachi and most of all a simple approach to Zen and every day life is all I want to practise and teach nowadays. Nothing but dogs …

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