Peace Shines Through the Spirit of the Garden

“Bless a thing and it will bless you.  Curse it and it will curse you. . .  If you bless a situation, it has no power to hurt you, and even if it is troublesome for a time, it will gradually fade out, if you sincerely bless it.”  Emmet Fox

When we are willing to give love in return for error life opens up for us.  Indeed, harmful and unjust things happen to us in life.  It’s necessary to face facts on this and it’s also necessary to go deeper.  As we tap into the spiritual resource of love and peace within us, we let go of the hurt and have the freedom, energy, and vision to live the beauty we so long for.  Right here in Austin we can immerse ourselves in the serenity that comes from one man’s decision to give love from his heart.

The Isamu Taniguchi Japanese Gardens within the Austin Botanical Garden at Zilker Park is the result of a man who did not hold grudges.  Instead he held a vision of universal peace.  Isamu Taniguchi was born in Osaka, Japan. By the age of 16 he was raising bonsai. Migrating to Stockton, California in 1915, he farmed vegetables and fruit, returning to Japan only once to marry. During World War II, he and his family were interned along with many other Japanese citizens in California and Texas. The family moved to the Rio Grande Valley at the end of the war to continue farming.  When he retired, he moved to Austin to be near his son Alan Taniguchi, who was the Dean of the UT School of Architecture. 

Retirement was boring for Mr. Taniguchi and he prevailed upon his son to find him a place to build a garden.  The younger Mr. Taniguchi had been instrumental in designing and building the Hike and Bike Trail and so had a close relationship with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.  Together they located the perfect spot at Zilker Park.  The Botanical Garden was enthusiastic about the generous offer of a Japanese Garden.  Working without a salary, a contract or a written plan, Mr. Taniguchi showed up for work, rain or shine, and created paths and streams, waterfalls and ponds, stone arrangements and plantings. The garden opened to the public in 1969.

An essay by the garden’s builder Isamu Taniguchi, “The Spirit of the Garden,” describes not only the garden, and expresses his spirit –   

“It has been my wish that through the construction of this visible garden, I might provide a symbol of universal peace. By observing the genuine peaceful nature of the garden, I believe that we should be able to knock on the door of our conscience, which once was obliged to be the slave of the animal nature in man rather than of the humanity which resides on the other side of his heart.

It is my desire for the peace of mankind which has endowed this man of old age the physical health and stamina to pile stone upon stone without a day’s absence from the work for the last 18 months. It is my desire for peace of mankind which encouraged me in my voluntary labor to complete this long-dreamed gift for the city of Austin – this Oriental Garden. It is my wish that you have pleasant communion with the spirit of the garden.”

In the Peace and Light of the Christ,

Rev. Anna


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