Author Topic: What Do They Mean?  (Read 18244 times)

Offline Chiyo

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What Do They Mean?
« on: March 01, 2010, 10:25:37 pm »
The stacked stones are a common symbol of Zen - but what do they mean?


Yeshe

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 02:38:16 am »
Well, goood ole Wicki has  few ideas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_rock_garden

I suspect the real answer may be 'whatever the creator meant them to represent' or possibly 'whatever the person experiences when they encounter them'. ;)
« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 02:39:54 am by Yeshe »

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 03:14:28 am »
The stacked stones are a common symbol of Zen - but what do they mean?

They look like they're about to fall over, so maybe it's about impermanence? :)

Spiny

Offline Ron-the-Elder

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 06:54:13 am »

The meaning is simple:  "One who touches poison Ivy gets itchy fingers and must shop for Calamine Lotion (r)."

The stacked stones are a common symbol of Zen - but what do they mean?


_/\_Ron

Offline lowonthetotem

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 09:39:59 am »
I think that "stacked stones" are also popular in many other traditions of Buddhism.  I think the first stupas were simply stacked stones.  I've heard legends about Tibetan "saints" hiding teachings and sutra translations in mountain altars to be discovered hundreds of years later, which were just stones stacked up beside paths.  Stacked stones also serve as mile posts and road markers in many cultures, Asian and otherwise.  Considering the offering next to these stones (looks like mint rather than poison ivy or maybe basil), this is a reminder that it doesn't take much to pay homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  The strength of the offering is in the intention, not the ornateness of the altar on which we place it.

Just a thought.

Yeshe

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2010, 10:59:34 am »
I think that "stacked stones" are also popular in many other traditions of Buddhism.  I think the first stupas were simply stacked stones.  I've heard legends about Tibetan "saints" hiding teachings and sutra translations in mountain altars to be discovered hundreds of years later, which were just stones stacked up beside paths.  Stacked stones also serve as mile posts and road markers in many cultures, Asian and otherwise.  Considering the offering next to these stones (looks like mint rather than poison ivy or maybe basil), this is a reminder that it doesn't take much to pay homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.  The strength of the offering is in the intention, not the ornateness of the altar on which we place it.

Just a thought.

A very good post.  Thank you.

Such piles are often to be found in the UK on hilltops.  They may be way stones marking a real path, or mystical paths such as ley lines.  Of course, complexity varies as does scale and potential sacred meaning (Stonehenge?).  I have seen similar things in India and other countries.

I may have told this story before, if so please forgive a repetition:

A photographer from the West on holiday in India wanted to capture everyday life in a village.  He stopped at one hut where the family were making offerings to a rock inside the house.  They obviously venerated the rock as a representation of a deity, offering incense, flowers, oil and food.

He asked to take the rock outside where it could be photographed more easily.  The family happily agreed.  Having taken a few pictures, the photographer felt increasingly uneasy, finally becoming very upset that he had abused the family's hospitality and wrecked their household shrine and sacred place by removing the rock.

He summoned up the courage to apologise to the family for his clumsy error.  Expecting them to be humble and forgiving, he was amazed when they burst out laughing.  He was utterly confused until the husband said to him:

''What are you upset about?  No need to apologise.

It's only a rock!  We can easily get another one!''


As you wrote so well:
'' The strength of the offering is in the intention, not the ornateness of the altar on which we place it.''

namaskar

Offline yukontodd

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2010, 11:32:48 am »
I've heard that three stones stacked on each other can be used as a Buddha image, representing the three jewels of Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and the three parts of the body stacked in the posture of meditation: legs crossed as the base stone, the body stretching upward, the head and shoulders balanced on top.  I don't remember where I read this, sorry.

Offline TongueTied

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2010, 01:52:29 pm »
Joke's on you if you try to find meaning out of something like four stones piled on top of one another.

Javamahasattva

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2010, 10:10:09 pm »
You'll normally see three stones more often than four... it's normally refered to as "Sanzonbutsu" or the Buddhist triad. A group of three stones in a Japanese garden is sometimes thought to represent one of the Buddhas (Shaka, Amida, or Yakushi) and bodhisattvas, though most believe that such identifications are conjectural.

Offline Dae Bi

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Re: What Do They Mean?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2010, 03:41:40 pm »
Balance.   The middle way.
I am he as you are he and we are all together.
                                                                           The Beatles

First there is a mountain then there is no mountain,
then there is.
                       Donovan

 


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