By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Living the Japanese Arts & Ways 45 Paths to Meditation & Beauty
H. E. Davey
Stone Bridge Press 01/03
In a Nutshell: In this masterful work, H. E. Davey explicates the five central attributes at the heart of the Japanese Arts and Ways: harmony, asymmetrical balance, artlessness, impermanence, and unity with the universe. These are all evident in bonsai, tea ceremony, yoga, ikebana, the martial arts, and calligraphy. With lyricism and a deep love for the aesthetics and spirituality of these arts, the author discusses 45 concepts of the Japanese Ways, many of which have Taoist roots.
About the Author: H. E. Davey is Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts. An accomplished practitioner and teacher of Japanese yoga, calligraphy, and martial arts. he holds the highest rank in Ranseki Sho Juku calligraphy and exhibits his work annually in Japan. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
Sum and Substance: "The ultimate aesthetic running through every Japanese Way is a naturalness in which the difference between the individual and the universal softens into oneness," writes H. E. Davey as he delineates the harmonizing of the mind and body that is central to so many martial ways, artistic ways, performing arts, and traditional crafts. The author's discussion of the spiritual dimension that permeates all of these endeavors is salutary and impressive.
Davey opens our eyes to the enticements of fuga, a profound appreciation and closeness to nature which Basho described as being "a companion of the four seasons"; shoshin, the beginner's mind that cherishes each moment as a fresh start; mono no aware, "an awareness of the fleeting and fragile nature of life, the fact that all created things deteriorate and dissolve back into the universe"; wabi-sabi, which honors the rustic and vulnerable aspect of aged objects; and ichi-go, ichi-e, "one encounter, one opportunity" wherein the present moment is savored as filled with riches. The practitioner of the Japanese arts demonstrates high regard for mystery, peaceful stillness, the rigors of training, detachment, and nonduality. Davey also defines essential terms such as ki (life energy), hara (abdominal centering), fudoshin (immovable mind), and others.
A Teaching Story: "The mind leads the body's actions. Not long ago I read about pianist Liu Chi Kung. In 1958, he placed second to Van Cliburn in a Tchaikovsky piano contest. Not long after, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he was imprisoned. He lived alone in a cell for seven years. When he was released, he almost immediately played a series of highly acclaimed concerts. The public was amazed that none of his virtuosity had been lost, despite seven years without a piano. When asked how he had retained such a high level of skill with no piano to practice on, he replied, 'I practiced every day in my mind.' ''
Quotes To Go:
"Furyu: From two words meaning, 'wind' and 'flowing.' It suggests an elegance both tangible and intangible, an inexpressible, ephemeral beauty that can be experienced only in the moment, for in the next instant it will dissolve like the morning mist."
"In the Ways, furyu describes an instant in which the mind experiences the poignancy of a brief moment of fragile beauty, a moment so overwhelming and intense that words can barely hint at it — cherry blossoms caught by the wind, and for the briefest moment . . . cascading . . . hanging in a cloud of pink."
"If the mind remains in the now, it's impossible to worry. People worry solely about an event that's come to pass or one that may take place in the future; the current moment contains no time or space for worry."
"When the mind is agitated, the spirit grows fatigued." (Chiei)