December dawn

It is cold.
The flame of the candle shivers in the dark.
The Japanese incense releases its delicate fragrance.
I tighten the châle around my shoulders.
The window frames a dark sky.
The moon is a thin bowl,
and Venus shines beside it.
It is very quiet,
the moment utterly serene.
I anticipate nothing.

Kenza.

Inspirations: morning meditation, silence. 

Art – Hasegawa Tohaku and the concept of “Ma” 間

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“Pine trees” by Hasegawa Tohaku, dated 16th c. (Azuchi-Momoyama Period), Japan
– via the Tokyo National Museum.

This is one of two six-fold panels. Painted with ink on paper, it is considered one of the jewels of Japanese ink painting.

In Japanese and Chinese art, pines symbolise winter, wisdom and longevity, since they do not loose their needles with the cold.

By drawing pines in the mist, the author sought to illustrate the Zen concept of “Ma” 間, generally translated as “negative space,” where contradictory things can connect and co-exist. In other words, “Ma” is the delicate moment of total awareness when what is and what is not merge.

Looking at the kanji may help understand it better. The kanji is made of “gate” (門) under which is the “moon” 月. Together they denote the space filled when the light of the moon shines through a gate. Because of the light (what is), one becomes conscious of the space that is void (what is not).

On the practical level, the concept of “Ma,” which I find extremely delicate and simple, is to allow the creation of moments of quietness, of deep reflection and of detachment. It is creating the potential from which harmony and tranquility may prevail.

Kenza.

* In Japan, the concept of space is more subtle and complex than in Western thought. Space is seen as a place of connection, it is not useless emptiness since it is where time and things can pass through and exist. In many ways, the same notion can be found in the Chinese Tao idea that the emptiness within a bowl is what makes it a bowl as much as its material —without the space it could not hold liquid and hence would be useless. In Japan, four kinds of spaces are generally thought of: relational space (wa), location (tokoro), space that helps create connections to produce knowledge (ba) and negative space (ma). 

White cosmos flower

Falling asleep, I close my eyes tightly wishing to wake up as a white cosmos flower.

Like the one I saw today, I will be most delicate and sway with laughter in a field of white and pink. I will turn towards the deep blue sky of autumn, and laugh some more as the sun warms me.

The cold wind will blow and I will flutter while it scatters my petals. I will then die knowing that after the winter months, I will come back as a delicate white cosmos flower swaying and laughing in the wind in an immense field under the deep blue sky.

Kenza.

Inspired by the change of season and simple natural beauty.

The chrysanthemum

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Long after all the flowers have faded

the chrysanthemum blooms alone.

Under grey skies, amidst the first frost,

its petals flutter with the wind from the north.

And yet, it is not November

but the month of May.

And yet, it has graced me with its beauty,

its fragrance filling my lonely heart.

Kenza.


Photo taken at home today of a bouquet of chrysanthemum. It was a gift from my nine year old son who knows I love this flower because it dares to bloom alone.