Review : Moving From Emptiness – The Life and Art of a Zen Dude

After seeing the trailer for this documentary/movie I was keen to see more. I fell in love with Alok Hsu Kwang-han as I watched, I wanted a Zen art class near me, I wanted the freedom to create from presence, from whatever wants to be expressed through my paint brush.

Alok Hsu Kwang-han, a Zen calligraphic painter, takes the viewer on a journey through his history, his life story, how his art comes from the space of emptiness and stillness, what comes before thought. He engages students through their emotional landscape, through using Zen Koans** and introspective questions like “‘Who Am I?’ Paint this!”

I was totally transfixed as I watched him teach, watched him cry and watched how each painting was filled with life and light and told a story, simple art from simple presence.

Alok revealed how old stories that he had once personally carried dropped into silence and out of the paintbrush onto the rice paper, how they were released, no analysis, simply stillness and dropping the story onto the paper.

This film had me laughing, had me crying and had me utterly entranced. Like many wise Masters, Alok teaches through example, humour and authenticity. If we all had a teacher like this I feel the world would be a very different place.

In this movie he celebrates his 75th birthday and his energy is youthful and full.

In one of his classes he has his students shake and move and say out loud “None of this is me!” because none of it is who we are. The emotions, story, body are not who we really are. And once the shaking is over the students begin to paint ‘None of this is me’. What an enlightening and awakening art class or should I say healing class. Alok encourages speaking gibberish, basically letting the inner fool come out to free the senses and allow a more intelligent way of being.

This film is beautifully done, powerfully revealing and filled with divine love.


An inspiring journey through art, love, healing and presence. If you want another way to experience life, watch this movie. If you want to bring new life to your art, watch this movie. If you want to see how someone can go from a painful history to a joyful present, watch this movie. This video is simple, easy to watch, lovely characters and interactions with the students and his beloved Raylene. The photography and movement from one scene to the next is effortless and the film-makers emphasis on also showing Alok’s humanity makes it all the more worthwhile a movie to keep and watch again and again.

**A Zen koan can refer to stories, parables, small statements or even a few words of a phrase that reference a larger story used in the practice of Zen Buddhism. They may be taken from the sayings or accounts of Buddhist teachers from the past or they may originate from modern day. Koans can be studied from a historical or literature perspective or contemplating them can form part of meditative practice. Meditating on a Zen koan is meant to help the person transcend daily thought patterns to arrive at a more enlightened mental place. (

Where Can I Watch This?

If you like what you have read and enjoyed the trailer find out more at their site 

here ZenDudeMovie.Com where you can rent it on-line or buy a copy of the DVD.

Post Disclaimer:  I received the dvd Moving From Emptiness – The Life and Art of a Zen Dude from Shaeri Richards. 

All opinions are my own.



Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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