This photo of end-of-the-year, dying lily pads, brilliantly reflecting sunlight and surrounded by dust and debris that reminds me of The Milky Way, is an example of key principles that define wabi-sabi beauty.
Wabi-sabi loosely translates as ‘the Zen of things.’ Going beyond our conventional ideas of beauty as being the height of bloom, wabi-sabi is also about looking more closely and recognizing beauty in the inconspicuous and imperfect.
Three spiritual principles of wabi-sabi beauty:
1. Truth comes for the observation of Nature.
All things are impermanent, imperfect, and incomplete.
2. Greatness exists in the inconspicuous and overlooked.
We tend to overlook a lot…the minor and the hidden, the damaged and the waning, the tentative and the ephemeral, the quiet and the subtle….
3. Beauty can be coaxed out of ugliness.
Beauty is not always or only lushness. Beauty a dynamic event; an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace. It often occurs in quite unexpected and spontaneous ways.
Wabi-sabi is rooted in Zen Buddhism. Its philosophy and principles are demonstrated in the tea ceremony where a rituals and values of purity, simplicity, and imperfection are lived. For example, the masters’ prized bowls were handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze and cracks, and they held a unique sort of beauty in their deliberate imperfection.
There is a belief that wabi-sabi beauty can only be exist in the physical world, in ‘actual-ness’ like a bowl or a leaf, and that it does not exist in an image of a bowl or leaf. I hold a different view. I believe that our brains can translate images to actual-ness based on our lived experience with nature. I further believe that these images help us heal our separation from nature and each other.
Check out the Wabi-Sabi Desktops. There is one for each of the Kaleidoscope lenses. Each has one word for contemplation. They are free for you to download. Enjoy!
These principles are adapted from Leonard Koren’s beautiful treasure of a book, Wabi-Sabi. It’s a very wabi-sabi book!