Zen Road
Zen Road
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Zazen ikebana… …ikebana zazenikebana-zazen5



From the flower turned in the Buddha’s fingers to the flower springing up from a rock, All I have to do is follow this path to encounter the practice of the art of Japanese flower arranging: Ikebana.


About ten years ago, Jean-Claude Gaumer, Godo of the Toulouse Dojo, told me, after an Ikebana workshop at the ‘Golden Fingers’: You can do the flowers for the Dojo.


Did he know what journey he was setting me on by giving me this responsibility? I’d like to think he did.

A branch, a flower, then another, in this way I embarked upon the Way of the Flowers (kado) and I have never left.

He would sometimes say, “I don’t always agree with what you are doing, but just as in zazen, I don’t say anything.” And so I would continue, I would walk in the forest, alongside the streams, in the mountains and I would look, I would look at what Nature offered for me to see, beyond the first impression, beyond form.


Jean-Claude left us, flowers accompanied his ashes into the sea.


Zazen ikebana, ikebana zazen…


For me zazen is intimately linked to the practice of Ikebana, being in front of a vase, plants in my hand, breathing in and then

deeply out, and sometimes a branch places itself, a flower leans, there is harmony, and I do gassho!



Whenever, on my zafu, I feel I am slumping, the tree that I met at the side of the footpath and which rises up to the sky in a single

force, straightens me up, just as the top of its crown pushes into the sky and just as its roots are deeply anchored into the ground.


The Japanese art of flower arranging is a great teaching of impermanence and non-attachment, only beautiful in the time it takes to realise it, the bouquet fades; weed or resplendent flower makes no difference. And in any case weeds do not exist, who decides what is a weed? Doesn’t it have its own charm, its own elegance, isn’t it also alive?


In this way, year after year, sesshin after sesshin, observation deepens. Without a doubt, there is nothing to see…


In this way, bouquet after bouquet, with nothing more to see, the line of the branch disappears and the branch is there, simply that.


Bernadette Turpin,

Lacapelle Biron. 30th March 2010.



Further study:

Ikebana-zen: Website of the IKERU Association, workshops and courses in Ikebana in Lacapelle Biron in Lot & Garonne, France, and in Toulouse, France.