Tuesday 12 May 2015

Ikebana Today 35

A style of Ikebana (general term), the ikebana in the Muromachi period seems to mean giving new life to the cut flower. In search of the meaning of life in the Japanese cultural tradition, we came to the issue which is at the centre of Asian philosophy. It is now clear that life means essence or Kami, the divine.    

A philosopher, Toshihiko Izutsu explains the issue in the simplest way in his great book, “Consciousness and Essence” (1983), using flower as an example. He notes a comment by Fugan, a Chinese zen monk, “Seeing a flower is for many people seeing it in their dream”.

What is really happening is that a person sees a flower as a substance, which is in tact a false image. If people realise that nothing has its substance, the whole universe would be chaos. The Asia philosophy gives a new order to the chaos. Flower as well as everything else is reborn as non-substantial entity. One is all. All is one. It can be seen as a mystic or religious perception of the world. I think I had better stop here, because I never have experienced it, a kind of enlightenment at the profound level.   

Anyhow, the term, ikebana has such a philosophical context behind it. In short, ikebana means to give flower new life, reviving it as non-substantial entity. This understanding actually gives freedom to interpret ikebana in many ways. We will look at how we could interpret ikebana in the next issues.

The image is my work for Hanabishi restaurant. Because I took the photo immediately after arranging flower, the colours of flowers are not so obvious. Once the flowers start to open, the arrangement looks different very day. I sometime notice that not many Japanese restaurants in Melbourne display Ikebana. Some restaurants display the western arrangements. I think Ikebana would be a better and cheaper option. Please contact me for a free quote.