IEAS Exhibit Series — Arts of Asia

Writing the Infinite: Tendai Buddhist Calligraphy as the Bodhisattva Path

Writing the Infinite: Tendai Buddhist Calligraphy as the Bodhisattva Path image

April 1 – June 10, 2010
Monday through Friday, 9 am – 5 pm
IEAS Lobby, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor

A spiritual awakening awaits both creator and viewer in the highest forms of Tendai calligraphy. "Boundless" and "infinite" are favored characters, as monks and lay followers seek heightened awareness in the act of writing. Drawing upon a lifetime of rigorous training and meditative concentration, the calligrapher touches brush to paper in a moment of personal realization of Buddhist teachings.

"Writing the Infinite: Tendai Buddhist Calligraphy as the Bodhisattva Path" opens at the IEAS Gallery at the University of California, Berkeley on April 1, 2010. The calligraphy on display represents some of the most accomplished and highly placed members of the sect. On loan from Enryakuji temple on Mount Hiei in Kyoto as well as other temples in Japan and the United States, this exhibit is an opportunity to experience directly the sacred texts of Tendai.

For all Tendai priests, training in calligraphy is central not only to their own spiritual growth, but the everyday practice of religious duties. Monks need to write temple signs, funeral tablets, certificates, inscriptions, as well as the copy sutras. Some priests make calligraphy their primary religious practice. But for all, calligraphy is central to one's spiritual journey, and the painted words serve as an inspiration for others seeking guidance. Just as Bodhisattvas forego nirvana to assist others in achieving enlightenment, Tendai priests, through calligraphy, seek to help others to greater understanding.

Those who find calligraphy a less accessible form than other arts, or who wish to learn more about Tendai Buddhism, are invited attend a symposium "Tendai Studies and Art" on April 23, 2010, at the Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton Street in Berkeley, 6th Floor Conference Room, 9 am to 6 pm). Priests, scholars, and practitioners of calligraphy will speak about Tendai practice in the morning and writing in the afternoon, culminating in a demonstration by one of the major figures in Tendai calligraphy.

See other IEAS Exhibits.