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

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