Neuroscience Unlocks Secrets of Zen Garden
500-year-old rock pattern suggests a tree to our subconscious.
26 September 2002
KENDALL POWELL

The beauty of one of Japan’s most popular Zen gardens has long eluded explanation. Now neuroscientists have found that its minimalist design suggests a pleasing picture to our subconcious.

The 500-year-old Ryoanji Temple garden in Kyoto contains five outcroppings of rocks and moss on a rectangle of raked gravel. Using symmetry calculations the researchers have discovered that the objects imply an image of a tree in the empty space between them that we detect, without being aware of doing so.

I don’t know what these gardens are about but they sure are beautiful. Below are links to 2 beautiful images of gardens on wikipedia – the Ryoanji Garden mentioned above and one in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Ryoanji Garden Portland garden
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