You have probably seen a bonsai tree, but have you given any thought to the philosophy behind the cultivation of bonsai?
"Put simply, bonsai is the art of manipulating the growth and appearance of small, young trees to make them look like older, larger ones. ... The rules that bonsai cultivators try to follow are not arbitrary but informed by wisdom from two ancient worldviews. Principal among these influences were Zen Buddhism — a movement built on overcoming the inherent meaninglessness of one’s existence through patience and self-control — and wabi-sabi, an elusive Japanese concept similarly interested in accepting life’s many imperfections through silence, solitude, and an unwavering appreciation for how time’s decaying hand affects the world around us. ... Trees, unlike statues, are not inanimate but living, breathing organisms. ... Their branches and roots keep on twisting and turning, constantly undoing the work of its cultivator. Saburo Kato, a bonsai master who formed one of the first international communities for cultivators in the 1980s, likened growing bonsai to raising kids. It is ... a never-ending and labor-intensive battle with the forces of nature. In order to win, cultivators have to acquire the kinds of perseverance and unconditional kindness normally reserved for devout monks. Kyozo Murata, another bonsai master, may have put it best when he said the purpose of bonsai trees is not necessarily to represent a thought but to remind us of a feeling: '...A person awakened to the essential mutability of life does not dread physical waning or loneliness; rather, he or she accepts these facts with quiet resignation and even finds in them a source of enjoyment.'"
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