The word suiseki is a shortened version of the term sansui keiseki, which roughly translates as “landscape scenery stone.” It’s a deep Japanese practice where natural stones formed and worn in certain ways by nature, are recognized by the artist or more accurately the practitioner as depicting a landscape.

This art form has classifications of stones such as those that resemble a distant mountain, seaside cliffs, island look-alike, a plain, a pool, waterfall, and human or animal figures.

The art of suiseki consists in collecting the right stones, gently adding a hand-rubbed patina to their surfaces, and mounting them for display on a custom-carved wooden stand.

— Andrew Alden

Stones are used Japanese arts in harmony with bonsai, gardens and zen gardens. Suiseki is a 1000-year old tradition. Stones are also part of other cultures. In India there’s the Shiva Lingam which are usually river stones, rounded by water. In fact, suiseki can mean ‘water stone.’

In the Native American traditions, stones found in nature that call to you hold insights and guidance, as you meditate holding it and also observing its patterns and shapes.

I experienced this intentionally some years ago in the Florida Keys. On the way to my hosts’ location to teach a Reiki class, I stopped at a natural area and spent a few hours drumming, meditating and finding the stone I worked with.

Recently, I’ve been writing about related practices, ways of life, poetry and other arts that really enrich the experience and benefits of Reiki, how there are lifestyles and philosophies that are very helpful in balancing our overdriven, hyperactive, stressed and always connected modern lives.

Refer to Simple Happiness to learn about ikigai and wabi-sabi; Enso the Zen Circle; and The Journey Itself is Home.

What’s beautiful to me about suiseki is that it keeps us close to nature. We’re so removed from nature, even if we don’t feel we are. It’s a serious challenge for humanity. Even our on-all-the-time digital connections leave us feeling isolated and alone.

Reiki is a natural support system to improve your physical, emotional and mental wellness, and to let your inherent spirituality surface on its own.

Most of the time we lose balance or feel unwell, or have emotional turbulence because we’re not present.

Noticing and recognizing that a seemingly ordinary rock depicts a natural scene takes a lot of presence. It’s being aware of the macro in the micro. They say of the art of suiseki, that it takes the viewer on a journey of discovering the universal clearly discovered in the individual, a rock in this case.

How wonderful! Just look at these beautiful examples.

Click each image to view larger

What we have here is an art form, which is more a practice that brings out hidden meaning locked into inert matter. Meaning is essential for a rich life. Without meaning we lose rudder and anchor.

Often meaning is sought in what pop culture pushes on us. There’s validity in all types of culture. The trouble is we have too much of the plastic, too much of the only skin-deep.

Meaning can’t be manufactured. We have to be meaning-makers. There are times when the inherent meaning in career, lover, family gets lost, bent, unclear.

A larger and deeper, connected personal world of meaning that considers the elements, nature, seasons, other earthly themes and universal ones is a powerful antidote to the elusiveness of meaning.

Reiki enhances meaning too. Whenever you’re in a process of practicing routinely ways and means to keep your view, your container larger and deeper than just personality, job, family and friends, then meaning floods those areas too. Reiki connects you to life more skillfully.

In that connection there’s access to an overarching meaning too. One that can sustain a whole life, not just a decade or two.

With that, here are some more gorgeous suiseki samples. The first one is kuzuya-ishi which resemble rustic and lonely thatched huts or cottages. My guess for the middle one is that it’s a seaside cliff. The last one resembles a bird so it’s a sugata-ishi as above, but not a human figure.

Click each image to view larger


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The Practice of Suiseki Art Stones