What is wabi Sabi? It is the material expression of Zen Buddhism. Wabi sabi roughly translates to – transient beauty seen through humble eyes. Wabi sabi aims to help us live a mindful, conscious life where we live in the moment through our senses. This began with the Japanese tea ceremony and extended to cups, bowls, poetry and now interior design. It is an excellent compliment to feng shui.
Wabi sabi helps understand Zen and enhances the practice of Zen whilst Zen provides the inspiration and state of mind for creating wabi sabi art forms and design.
Originally wabi sabi was applied to creating the ideal environment to meditate. The Zen practitioner could walk through a garden that brought about a mood of introspection and reflection, enter a teahouse that had an atmosphere that made it easier to be of an empty mind, completely engaged in the reality of the ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony. The objects used in the ceremony would further enhance the process of appreciation and gaining mental freedom.
Today Wabi sabi is therefore most readily applied to gardens, interior design and household objects, however, the same ideas could be applied to anything. In a modern context it is used to help shift a little closer to living in the moment through creating a more sensorial, calming, peaceful atmosphere at home. It is the ideal tool for turning your home into a sanctuary from the stress of modern living.
wabi sabi interior design
Wabi wabi helps create interiors that our engaging, sensorial and interesting. The aim is help us connect with the rooms in a way that takes us out of worries, stress and anxieties and into a more observant, interactive, meditative state. Wabi wabi can readily be applied to the following aspects of interior design.
- Natural Materials
- Living Rooms
- Cups, Pots, Bowls, Plates.
- The Japanese Tea Ceremony
To understand wabi sabi it is first essential to absorb the philosophy of Zen. Zen is often taught in riddles and mystical sayings making it subjective and open to personal interpretation. Zen is something you ultimately discover for yourself. My current interpretation of zen is this. As children we live life like a game. We play and in that play we learn the rules. Every school playground is full of children making up rules and acting them out. We take this forward into social behaviour, work and self. We all live by certain rules and play a game in which we expect outcomes. The most common is the career game. We work, try to be of value to other people, conform to the rules of the game in anticipation of rewards. What will my rewards be, a house, car, holidays? The same game can be applied to anything and strangely often gets applied quite rigidly to new age, spiritual pursuits where a new set of doctrines are bought into in return for greater well-being, a new career or spiritual superiority.
Zen is the times when you escape the game altogether and just live without preconceptions, expectations or assumptions. This is a non-judgemental attitude where curiosity, wonder, interest stir an open, questioning mind with no expectation of outcomes.
wabi sabi definition and translation
The words wabi and sabi have evolved in meaning over many centuries and have a new meaning again when put together. In the Zen style the meaning is subjective and open to interpretation. Wabi can be applied to a way of life that is simple, unmaterialistic, humble, appreciative, considered. A wabi person would be happy with very little and content within him or herself, someone who has transcended the need for material wealth to define him or herself. Sabi can be applied to an imagery that is transient. The look of something that shows its age, that imparts something of its life. This could be the patina of an old leather jacket, weathered stone or seasoned wood. Sabi represents the passing of time and is tinged with sadness, perhaps a longing for the carefree existence of childhood. When put together wabi sabi would logically mean being in a simple state of living placed in the context of the passing of time, however, I will leave you the freedom to develop your own feel for the words by studying wabi sabi further.
learn more about wabi sabi
You can read more about wabi wabi ideas and request an online wabi wabi tutorial or in person wabi wabi course in London with Simon. Call +44(0)7543663227 or email Simon for details.