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The Art of Peace of Mind__Kong Shiu Loon

The links, 日本中部深山之旅 – Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4,  are received from a travelling friend with whom I went to the Sahara fifteen years ago. He is a traveler and he sends his impressions recorded in beautiful photos. This set is from Japan.

I used to travel extensively in Japan, to discover and to cleanse my soul, two decades ago when my son was there. The photos received bring back many fond and soothing memories. I wish to share them with all Wayanites, together with my thoughts and feelings.

What you see, slowly and deeply, is the art of achieving a peace of mind by finding the past from the present, and by appreciating the beauties and rhythms of nature as they present themselves. You should keep in mind that you are a part of nature, not outside it, nor trying to use it, and never to control or change it.

Just go through the photos with a minimum regard for the comments. Discover how serene everything is, be it a street, a building, food in a dish, berries and pine cone on snow, the characters in the signboards, the blue sky and green hills, the cherry blossoms, the furniture and the rooms, the food containers, the mood, the absolute cleanliness…..

If you had enjoyed a hot bath in the open before, sitting on steaming water while you look over a valley at dusk, you will recall many feelings: the soothing effect on your skin and organs, the forgetting of mundane events, the breathing of crisp clean air, and the oblivion of worldly matters around.

I was initially impressed by how the Japanese respect and preserve their past in the present, how they care and preserve nature in its varying dimensions of motion and stillness, to echo the teaching of Confucius that nature speaks not but is seen in the seasons.

Everything you see in Japan has roots from China. The Kanji 汉字 written in naive but flowing bush stokes is based on shodo 書道and shuji 習字 which Japanese children still practise. The architecture of flying eves and orate tiles which express man’s dialogue with the sky in its physical and spiritual possibilities, depict Zen wisdom. The fables expressed in toy figures, sculptures and paintings had their origins from China and India. The numerals are Sino Japanese characters. And the simplicity in daily living and in man’s relationship with nature is based on Daoist cosmology.

Being in Japan reminded me of my childhood days in my father’s and mother’s villagers near Shenzhen, where I found my identity and confidence in life, as well as the innate appreciation of culture and nature. I was happily shocked to find bits and pieces of its constellation, as I went through Japan and chatted with the folks there, admiring their tenacity in preserving and respecting what people call “the past” which is the root of the present.

Both the Confucius and the Daoist orientations to life suggest the caring and sparing of material things, with an emphasis on taking the middle road to avoid extremes. One could easily love scraps of bamboo or straw when knowing they are parts of a universe of which one is a dot.

Please do appreciate the many little utensils and tools the Japanese use on the dinning table and around the houses. They are made of small tree branches or bamboo sticks.

Watch of the presentation of simple food, exhausting the use of various colors, forms, shapes, textures and contrast to make a beautiful whole.

Then look around the neat tables and walls and windows in the room.

One cannot be anything but peaceful in the midst of so much quietude and beauty and timelessness.

I hope you will find it in going through this pictorial presentation.

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