Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Ten Virtues of Ikebana 8

The eighth of the ten virtues of Ikebana is a peaceful mind. Through practicing Ikebana, you can maintain a peaceful mind and consequently you can live longer.

Great people tend to be calm whatever happens in their lives. On the contrary small people get upset easily over small things. 

Also, as was pointed out by Inazo Nitobe in “Bushodo: The Soul of Japan”, calmness is the other side of braveness. 

With respect to this idea of calmness, what we are aiming for as we practice Ikebana is actually an important aspect of Bushido. In other words, this virtue makes the claim that  Ikebana is a form of spiritual training. 

This is a common assumption in the Japanese tradition, that art is a kind of spiritual training.

While in general art focuses on humanity rather than nature in the West, it is united with nature in Japan. In Ikebana particularly artistic beauty is achieved by expressing the essence of natural life. To be able to express beauty in artwork, artists have to achieve personal development through spiritual training. That seems to be a common view. 

The difficult thing is how to teach the spiritual aspect of Ikebana, in particular to people with non-Japanese cultural backgrounds.

Unfortunately one of the modern Ikebana movements in 1930’s moved away from the spiritual aspect of Ikebana. Many of the Ikebana schools that expanded overseas after the world war two have been influenced by that movement. I may have a chance to talk about this significant cultural change sometime in the future.

This month’s work is a New Year’s arrangement I made for Koko restaurant, Crown in 2009. I used bricks inside the container to fix bamboo.