Nanzen-ji

“Wabi-sabi: very difficult.”

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Nanzen-ji is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto that I visited on my last full day in Japan. In addition to viewing some of Japan’s great cultural treasures, the painted walls throughout the temple (which I was not permitted to photograph), I spent quite some time there relaxing in the various gardens, and also was able to speak with two of the monks.

Several things one gentleman said will stick with me.

That ‘wabi’, to him, means peace or understanding in your heart. That ‘sabi’ means feeling the circumstance of nature.

That the garden, to him, is wabi-sabi. To quote:

“Garden speaks to us; no voice. Tree is living; no thought. Garden is green, sky is blue. It’s wabi-sabi, I think.”

Asymmetry, irregulariy

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Simplicity

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Basic; weathered

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Without pretense; natural

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Freedom

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Tranquility

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Subtly profound grace

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“Our surroundings have a profound impact on our psyche. If you want to do good deeds, consider surrounding yourself with good people. If you want to work hard, consider surrounding yourself with hard workers.

And if you’re feeling sad, down, and kind of messy? Clean your room.”

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