The McClung Museum is briefly offering an exhibit focusing on the art of Zen Buddhism and its teachings from Sept. 15 through Dec. 31.
Curated by Dr. John Fong, the presentation contains a variety of Buddhist artwork from a few centuries ago. Over 40 hanging scrolls evincing simplistic painting and calligraphy are strategically strewn throughout the museum, along with spectacular robes and memorial plaques.
Zen is a school of Buddhism founded by Bodhidharma, from India. According to legend, Zen was introduced between A.D. 420 and 589 by none other than Bodhidharma himself. His influence is apparent in the area, as many of the calligraphic images are of him or are deviations of his image.
Part of the exhibit is devoted to a tea ceremony that has been ongoing for centuries. The tools necessary for Zen practice were donated by the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla. This series of bowls and relics gives viewers the impression of how ritualistic the way of life for a Zen is.
Students understand the importance of having such historical pieces available for their viewing.
"I can't wait to finally have a place to reflect on my rich family heritage, which I have found to be lacking in the Knoxville area," Michael Fromke, senior in accounting, said.
Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, more commonly known as "Buddha," who lived between the 6th and 4th centuries B.C. Buddha was known for his insight and teachings that eventually led to the formation of numerous schools of Buddhism. He was thought to have reached a state known as "Nirvana", and spent his life helping others achieve this enlightened status.
The foundation of Zen is seated meditation, or "zazen," to ultimately find enlightenment of the mind and body from within one's self. Deep thought is attributed to ultimately finding one's true mental ability and condition.
Most of the pieces deviate from Rinzai and Obaku monks, which are two of the three lineages of Zen. The simplicity of the art is emphasized when experiencing the showcase, as Buddhists show that it "takes much effort to appear effortless." Effortless is the way that many live their lives, as some rarely exit the confines of their own minds.
John Leamon, junior in logistics, believes the exhibit will be an educational opportunity for students.
"Having exhibits about things like Zen Buddhism will give students a chance to broaden their horizons and add another dimension to the educational experience," Leamon said. "I expect it to be 'Zensational.'"
Admission to the exhibit is free for all visitors.