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Idea maps are called 'mind maps' by a less suitable term, but the latter is the more common of them. It is not the mind that is mapped in a 'mind map', it is ideas, also called salient points, keywords, that are jotted down on paper and stringed according to some layout. A table of contents shows much of the same, but hardly as elegantly and suitably to the centring mind.

Another term is used here as well: kuge, and stands for a visual assembage of points, preferably good points. The term is Japanese, and taken to mean "sky flowers, flowers in space" by the Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher Eihei Dogen (1200-53). The Zen Reverend Gudo Nishijima says: "Ku means "the sky," or "space," and ge means "flowers." What are flowers in space? Master Dogen uses the words "flowers in space" to express all phenomena in this world." (Nishijima and Cross 1997, 9) [More - No 43]

Nishijima and Cross also pinpoint that kuge, "flowers in space", symbolise images. They also teach that the Zen patriarch Bodhidharma (Daruma) refers to phenomena and existence by "flowers opening are the occurrence of the world" (Nishijima and Cross 1996, 10n; Nishijima and Cross 1997, 36n)

Phenomena are roughly said "somethings" that appear in the awareness, things that "come to mind", with or without outward references. So ideas are so-called flowers from the inner space, they too. Whatever they are taken to be, they may be represented by selected words and/or pictures in idea maps. Idea maps are "local mind flowers" with the main ideas grouped at the centre, and with petals of ideas spread out in various ways. Spatial figures and grids help recall.

In a kuge (structural and phenomenal idea map) selected ideas are arranged according to a schemata. This site's 'kuge', 'Zen flower arrangements' and 'sky flower arrangements' usually mean the same [More].

Dogen emphasises that flowers naturally bear the "fruit" of realization. Correspondingly, idea maps should yield fruits of meaning, understanding. That is the most valuable thing to get at from such display.


An academic sky flower (kuge) arrangement is nothing mystical. Sky flowers (kuge) arrangements may bring help in generating new ideas. It is accomplished through its sorting and arrangement of key points and the "reading grammar" (significant structure, schema) they are put into.

Sky flower arrangements can be used on a variety of levels and in differing settings.

Visual and spacial structuring of core ideas by way of cognitive maps can help learning. Kuge articles offer a running text that can easily be converted into conventional mind maps.


Much depends on skills

KUGES may be used to structure, analyse and make sense of verbally presented material.

THE quite novel kuge technique is in part linked to George Kelly's theory of personal constructs. Some of the basic principles of and wider settings of Sky flower arrangements indicated reflect bits of his theory.

Kuges are topic arrangements (scenarios) of constructs and concepts. At bottom is a "universal template" or matrix, that items can be arranged on top of. [More]

KUGES can be tried for alternative recordings of lectures, and could promote somewhat better structural analysis, questioning and understanding of basic data. Such an all-round method is hardly perfect for all or cases, but a middling all the same it can bring about insights in surprising ways. (6)

SO. Decide on the salient, strong points in a matter and arrange them neatly as it suits you. 



Sky Flowers

KUGES are structured ideas, as shown on the previous page. There are two sides to the matter: (1) table-displays and (2) visual graphics, or "maps". A mind map can easily be had from a table, and the other way round: an idea map that conforms to the kuge structure throughout, is easily made into a table. Kuges conform to basic Taoism throughout, and they are aligned to how researches go about encountering problems, investigating issues and topics. [More].

Our structured idea table-surveys and maps allow users to structure accounts of problems, and structure, organise and analyse data by a provided all-round scenario that should fit better understanding. The most important facet of the use of such tick tack toe scheming is arriving at how to operate. A gist may serve for intellectual pursuits, a method may be distilled from it by local adaptations and accompanied by added material or methods as fits. Hence, a kuge may hide a budding action plan to elaborate on as fits many.

In some cases this form of cognitive maps may act as a cathartic medium through showing the flow and arrangement of topics, ideas and how they fit into a wider cognitivestructure, a "world map".

A well formed kuge (TTT) yields an integral map of core phenomena, A table-shaped or visual survey that may provide valuable clues as to a client's perceptions of problems, and give indications as to where the "nub(s)" of the issue may lie.

MAPS are used for strategy development (Eden and Ackermann 1992) and individual problem solving (Eden 1991). Maps may also act as prompts when attempting to capture individual or organisational aims or objectives.

By looking into or assessing some chains of argument and linking them together, insights into the nature of the issues are acquired.

Kuges, by producing a representation of how the client thinks about a particular issue or situation, can thus act as a valuable technique for helping out.

It is possible to identify emergent key issues. (6) [T+]



  1. The appropriate way of using our methods is to dig up the most valid and relevant topics of an issue, sort out where one's back-up lies, and put them into the general matrix to sequence them better - and then study the structure to see what "gambits" there are. Many of them might eventually be put to good and decent use.
  2. A "Get Tao" table (essay, article), is very easily displayed in graphic form too. The two modes - table and graphics - complement one another.
  3. Individual insights matter if they may be put to good use, and this method helps it, through the summaries that get evolved. There are well over a hundred examples of "Get Tao" articles on-site today. Browse at leisure.

IN NUCE This article is about the method behind the "Get Tao" icons on top of several articles, on how ideas can be sifted and grouped and presented in table form or visually, graphically. Extracts of the table can be put to practical use, where conditions follow suit. Enrichment should follow each gist at any rate - preferably solid enrichment, through getting skills that suit the issues at, so as to benefit from them too.



Getting Proficient

A kuge ("Get Tao" schema in the form of a basic table, possibly complemented with its visual chart) has to be validated and elaborated before put to tentative use. New skills often take time to learn and first attempts at kuge assembleys and tentative uses may be time-consuming. Allow for that.

Some practice in forming gist (summaries) can be helpful.

ON this site we try to sort the key concepts according to certain "middling standards" that profit handling.

DO not believe to your disadvantage; make sure in good time instead. And conclusions that take you into hard and arduous training and other hard and arduous matters, should be replaced as fast as possible with more delicate and hopefully very easily reached solvency attainments within your power.

You can still train yourself in getting skilful in ways that pay off. (T+ study)



  1. Kuges allow for elaborations and summaries.
  2. When allocating various ideas and concepts in the standard matrix for the display, you can try some middling alternative first, in cases of doubt.
  3. When what you come up with seems suspicious, or not entirely convincing, or the tasks that conclusions may lead to, seem hard and arduous, don't laugh thoughtlessly. Consider if there are better conclusions or alternatives to be had in some arena too. That is, be on the outlook for improvements and alternatives. Stay fair, to your benefit.

IN NUCE Tao tables may be used to back up choices, but mind that errors may creep into such schemas. In cases of doubt, take some time to reflect and consider and reconsider, weighing alternatives throughfully. And feedback has a welcome function in the scientific endeavour.


Kuge, Sky Flowers, Mind flowers, mind maps, idea maps, other tips for handling the learning processes, Literature  

Buzan, Tony, and Barry Buzan. The Mind Map Book: Unlock Your Creativity, Boost Your Memory, Change Your Life. London: BBC Active /Pearson, 2010.

Nearman, Hubert, tr. Shobogenzo: The Treasure House of the Eye of the True Teaching. A Trainee's Translation of Great Master Dogen's Spiritual Masterpiece. Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ - To compare with.

Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs.: Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 2. London: Windbell Publications, 1996.

Nishijima, Gudo Wafo and Cross, Chodo, trs.: Master Dogen's Shobogenzo. Book 3. London: Windbell Publications, 1997.

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