Bonsai, My Philosophy and Aims
There are many ways to grow Bonsai - it
depends on the person. Even in
Nowadays however, Bonsai has become more
popular. I talked to an Italian gentleman on the airplane from
Let me try and explain what I believe
Bonsai to be. Bonsai is a plant that has been grown in a container for
appreciation and purposefully kept small or dwarfed using various kinds of
techniques over a long period of time. There is a definite aim and plan to
determine it's final shape. In
As for myself, I do not think that Wabi and Sabi are enough to cover
all of Bonsai. I believe that they are important but I also think that "Ga" is needed. What is "Ga"?
the concept actually comes from
Bonsai is a living thing that is always growing and changing. It is a different art from paintings which also express through shape and color but are static and never change. Thus, we can not keep and enhance Bonsai for a long time unless we have a good plan based on a sense of beauty and use good techniques. If we don't do these things, the Bonsai will be destroyed by haphazard prunning, shaping, and cultivation. Then, we can no longer call the plant a Bonsai but a "Sakuochi" which means that's health and beauty have declined. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an aim based on a sense of beauty, technique and experience.
When we Japanese study something, we have been taught to follow three principles. The first thing is "Shu" which means to be consistent by practicing the instructions of the teacher or the fundamentals faithfully. The second thing is "Ha" which means to break down or tear something apart in this case change or reject the teaching of the instructor. Of course, we must have "Shu" before we can have "Ha" in Bonsai. The third and final principle is "Ri" which means to leave, go away, or be independent. Consequently, at the last stage of learning from our teacher we should advance on the basis of knowledge we have accumulated, with our own ideas, talent, and creativity. Often, however, at this time we feel that we must assert our own views completely while ignoring the knowledge and techniques we have learned. We call this in Japanes "Namaiki" or "Namabyoho". It is difficult to attain greatness with such an attitude. Aside from these three principles, I feel that it is very important to develop the best characteristics of one's material or future Bonsai by observing it with a free and open mind. Observe each new plant with a fresh view toward using the plant's natural characteristics.
To summarize, I feel that the concept of "Ga" (elegance, grace) is the spiritual backbone of Bonsai with "Wabi" (calm, quiet) and "Sabi" (simple, old) as the building blocks for growing Bonsai. We must forever renew our knowledge and keep a beginner's interest and mind.
I hope to have a happy life with Bonsai as my lifelong friend.