Shakyo: Meditation with Calligraphy

by Nippon Kodo

Tracing the Sutra (Shakyo 写経 in Japanese, or Heart Sutra 心經 in Chinese) is calligraphy that is said to achieve mental well-being in the form of meditation, as well as to become in tune with Buddha’s teachings. By tracing each complex Asian character, shakyo is said to be effective in stabilizing the mind as the mind goes into a concentration mode while tracing. This form of meditation can help one become more present and calm, reaching a state of mindfulness and peaceful zen.

During shakyo, evil thoughts such as anger and jealousy are expected to be removed because using a brush makes one focus on the ink and the movement of each stroke on paper. If the mind is disturbed, it will appear in the writing, reflecting the mental state. Understanding the history, meaning of the Sutra, and the purpose of shakyo will further one’s appreciation and motivation to practice the art of tracing the Sutra.




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