Posted in Zen Dance
Korean Zen Dance is an ancient practice rooted in Zen Buddhist philosophy. The purpose of Zen is to find one’s “True I,” to attain the indescribable Suchness—Enlightenment—and to end the suffering of humankind. Words cannot pin down its meaning, nor can rites, rituals, music, or dance. But every human action may be undertaken as an exercise toward
Enlightenment and performed in such a way as to suggest the ineffable. Thus Zen Buddhism has given the world Zen archery, Zen karate, Zen swordsmanship, Zen flower arranging, Zen tea drinking, and the art of Zen dance.
For the Zen dancer, dance is not only a medium of artistic expression; it is a path that leads to Enlightenment itself. The basic techniques of Zen meditation have been adapted and applied to dance. Through the use of mantras, hwa-tous (koati in Japanese), and tanjun (lower abdomen) breathing, practitioners learn how to align the mind and body correctly in order to enter the Enlightened state.
In Korea, Zen is known as Hwalgu-jam Son, “Utmost Vehicle Meditation.” This tradition holds that Enlightenment, or Buddha nature, is the birthright of every human being. Since it already exists within us, it can be neither bestowed by a teacher nor obtained by a disciple—the “Utmost Vehicle” is oneself!