There are two kinds of sand in this garden: black and white. Do you know why?
All things are multifaceted, so one aspect alone is insufficient in grasping the essence of things. A clear depiction of this is the concept of “yin and yang.” Founded in Chinese beliefs, yin and yang suggest that spring and autumn, day and night, man and woman, and other contradictions exist out of mutual dependence. The white and black colors of this garden signify these two aspects of the world.
Buddhism, however, promotes the idea of oneness that opposes dualities like “good” and “bad.” But, perhaps the distinctions need not be so precise. For example, we tend to judge whether food is “tasty” or “disgusting,” and whether a person is “kind” or “evil”; but such judgements are one-sided. Because there is light, there is also darkness. Separating the two is impossible, no matter how hard one tries. After all, judgements are a matter of perspective. That is why Buddhism teaches us to accept things as they are.
This is easier said than done, of course. The yin and yang of this garden, however, actually helps us remember “oneness.”
Of the stones spread out in the garden, 8 are for the yin and 7 are for the yang, which symbolize even and odd numbers. The sum of 8 and 7 is 15, which has, since long ago, been a number signifying completeness. The holiday Shichi-Go-San in Japan, for example, celebrates children of the ages 7, 5, and 3, which add up to 15. The harvest moon also falls on the fifteenth night of the lunar calendar. Composed of 15 stones split between 8 and 7, this garden forces us to consider both the yin and the yang to appreciate it as a whole.
It is not enough to see only the good, nor is it enough to see only the bad. Buddhism teaches us that it is vital to accept things as they are.
The same goes for how we perceive the boundaries that exist around us. If we examine them from our one-sided perspective, it’s difficult to discover anything new. This garden teaches us the importance of comprehending the many aspects that compose these objects around us.