I came across the term ‘ten thousand things’ recently…and promptly wondered why I had not encountered it before. The ancient Chinese used this phrase to refer to the unfathomable multitude of beings in existence.
The idea of ten thousand things representing a number beyond belief also occurs outside China. In Buddhism it is used to refer to the uncountable number of ways in which life force or Buddha-nature exists. The ancient Greeks had a word for it, myrioi, and this has come to us in English as ‘myriad’, which literally means ten thousand.
In ‘The Zen of Seeing’, Frederick Franck refers to the ten thousand things as being worth seeing and drawing; “It is in order to really see, to see ever deeper, ever more intensely, hence to be fully aware and alive, that I draw what the Chinese call “The Ten Thousand Things” around me. Drawing is the discipline by which I constantly rediscover the world”
And so, when we take the time to look, whether it is with pencil, paintbrush or camera in hand, there is so much around us that we realise we just pass by on a daily basis. How much do you really see? Make time to look – you will find it’s worth the effort!