Zenga is a style of art and calligraphy practiced by Zen monks as a form of meditation and an expression of enlightenment. At its best, it is considered a pure expression of Zen principles. These examples show the gentle humor that is often found in zenga.
Zenga - Nantenbo Zenga - Kogan Gengei Zenga - Hakuin Ekaku
Nakahara Nantenbo, 1923

Mokurai asked, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Nantenbo replied, "Now, listen!"

Kogan Gengei, 1747-1821

"One voice, two voices–then like a clatter of shivering geese!"

This painting, which depicts a procession of monks making their traditional rounds, makes reference to the famous koan, "Does a dog have Buddha nature?"

Hakuin Ekaku , 1685-1769

"Yoshida is no better than a fly's head!"

The moon is often a symbol of enlightenment, but the monkey is foolishly reaching for the reflection of the moon on water. This image is a favorite of Hakuin who uses it with different comments. In this version, the artist pokes fun at a dilettante who studies–rather than practices–Zen. In another use of the same image, Hakuin points out that the monkey will never succeed in grasping the moon no matter how hard he tries, but that he would understand instantly if he would only let go of the branch!

Here are two excellent books on zenga and Zen artists:

The Art of Zen Stephen Addiss and
The Art of 20th Century Zen Audry Yoshiko Seo with Stephen Addiss

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