Friday, May 28, 2010

A Wabibito


A Wabibito
is what I want to be


someone who understands the wisdom
of the grasshoppers and the rocks

Zen Rock Garden Kyoto

I want to become satisfied 
with my life

a simple life lived modestly

I want to pare back
and live now
and feel the peace
of the natural world
around me

Tea House

Wabi Sabi
is a Japanese view or aesthetic
based on the acceptance of transience
It suggests we find a beauty in 
all that is


Bonsai Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

in the humble
the modest
and the unconventional

Shakuhachi Flute

Wabi Sabi nurtures all
that is authentic by acknowledging
those three simple realities

Nothing lasts
Nothing is finished
Nothing is perfect

Tale of Genji text 12th Century earliest illustrated Handscroll

The word Wabi
speaks of a rustic simplicity
a quietness
with the quirks and anomalies
which add uniqueness
and an elegance 
to a creation

Tea Cup, Hagi Ware 17th Century

suggests a weathered rusty beauty 
and serenity
that comes with age
when the life of the object
and its impermanence are evidenced 
in its patina and wear

Kenrokuen Hanami

This is how I want to age
with wabi sabi
accepting the natural cycle of growth
decay and death
wearing the bloom of time

 Shigaraki Jar

Wabi Sabi can be considered
the material representation 
of Zen Buddhism

Black Raku Tea Bowl, 16th century

A wabibito
is a person
who is free in heart
who is comfortably oneself
and has the ability
to make do with less...
to appreciate the nobility
in the simple
and the common

A man is rich
in proportion to the number of things
which he can afford
to let alone

Henry David Thoreau

Labelled Illustrations from Wiki commons


  1. Thank you for this wonderful post! I think I understand your meaning of less - I desire to be a Wabibito too. I believe simplicity is hard work. It requires mindfulness, presence, and dedication

  2. Wonderful post, Delwyn. I'm with you all the way. For me, now, going forward in my life is mostly a matter of simplifying, of shedding possessions and activities that don't matter, and not many do.

    It's focusing on the few activities that do matter: connecting with people, communing with nature, paying attention to the spiritual dimensions of even the simplest acts, like making and drinking tea.

    Delwyn, thank you for this. Your posts are refuges of sanity.

  3. Delwyn,
    this post is timely for me since now that my last child is preparing to leave the nest, i'm already simplifying our home, and my life. I am sure this is another of the wonderful benefits of growing older, less is more. and for me nature has always felt like more than enough.

  4. The feeling your blog always protrudes is very Zen like, Delwyn. I find myself reading slowly...savoring every word and meaning...finding a quiet peace here and wanting to be a wabibito myself.

  5. Hi there dear Delwyn,

    This post sums up how I try to live life too. Your definition of sabi can be so beautifully applied to the ageing process - how to appreciate it, accept it, honour it with its apparent 'patina' and 'impermanence'.

    There is such freedom when one divests rather than acquires. Aquisition and consumption pull one away from what really matters.

    Your blog has become a lovely meeting place for all aspiring wabibitos!

  6. I very much enjoyed this post Delwyn. I never knew I wanted to be a wabibito until today.

    Ah well, better late than never.

  7. This is such a lovely post- thanks, Delwyn. It echos aging as Bonnie said.

  8. If Im born again I want to be called Wabibito,thats how I would like to be called!! :O)
    This is the way I wish to be living verry soon,once,in this life!! Please,wish me luck? :)
    Thank you Delwyn

  9. Thank you Delwyn for reminding me of wabi-sabi. I loved this post and the definition of a wabibito.

  10. Delwyn- I ponder Wabisabi and the acceptance of the natural cycle of growth and transience. As a middle aged women I admit it is a bit of a 3 steps forward, 2 steps back process for me. Last week a friend and I did a photo shoot and we wore a mask and it was amazing because it sent me instantaneously to what I imagine a Wabisabi way of being is -falling away of ego. I will do a post on this experience.
    Once again you present very interesting topics to ponder. Thank you.

  11. Merciful God, Delwyn, it is an education to come to your blog. Words like Wabi Sabi and Wabibito are alien to me, but I'm learning and maybe I am on my way to being a Wabibito.

  12. Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adopted the motto "Less is more" which I aspire to accept. It is a challenge in our materialistic world. Great post.

  13. mmm, i've got too much stuff/junk. need a little wabisabi, and Japenese gardens are just too much...great

  14. Simply beautiful, Delwyn. Having just downsized from a large five bedroom house to a two bedroom condo, I feel I am graced with a little of the essence of wabibito, although I have a way to go. Thank you for introducing me to the word and its beautiful concept and associations.

  15. I realized in the dream that your post inspired that I must put you on my blog roll!

    Always a wonderful visit, D

    Aloha from Hawaii, Friend

    Comfort Spiral

  16. Hi
    The arrangement of the iris in the first photo is really stylish! I love it! I think the pebbles are nice too.
    I visited Kenroku-en Park in Kanazawa when I was a student on my way to the Noto Peninsula.

  17. oh i loved this post. the words and the images... loved it!

  18. This a most serene beautiful post- I have read a lot about wabi sabi but have never heard the word wabibito-- such beautiful images and words here

  19. Hello Barb
    fellow wabibito aspirant...thanks for your company on the journey.

    Hi Dan
    you have made a great summary of wabi sabi intentions, I agree 100%...

    Hi Lori
    this sounds like the impetus for your wabi sabi beginnings...

    Hi Wanda
    I think you might be know what is important...

    Hi Bonnie
    I liked how the aging process was equally applicable to people too...

    Hi Barry
    well there you are Barry - a wabibito in the making....

    Hi Gmother
    lets age with wabi sabi ...and be proud...

  20. Hi Aleks
    you can be one now have the right values...and intentions...

    Hi Joanna
    a pleasure and its lovely to see you today...

    Hi Maggie

    I like the way you drew the posts together made some interesting finds...I look forward to hearing more...

    Hi Ann
    it makes me happy to hear your comments, really I am pulling my ideas together on these posts so it is reassuring to hear of people that concur...

    Hi Lizzy
    you know I think it is harder in the thinking tan in the doing. Having takes so much energy....

    Hi Tom
    I am glad you also value the ethics and aesthetics of wabi it time for a little clearing out...

    Hi Nana Jo

    It is interesting that many of us a undergoing a similar transformation, downsizing, re- evaluating and clearing out...and isn't it so freeing...

  21. Hi Cloudia

    I'm not sure I follow...tell me more...

    Hello Sapphire
    this post is like taking coals to Newcastle for you sapphire. Thank you for having the good grace to bear with me...
    I went through Kanazawa on way to Houdatsu Oshimitsu on the Noto Peninsula where daughter #2 was staying on a school exchange....I remember the train journey was very picturesque through the mountains...the rubbish washed up on the beach not so pretty...but
    I enjoyed seeing the rural landscape.

    Hi Kamana
    welcome to my pages. It is nice to meet you and I look forward to future sharings...

    Happy days

  22. Hi Donna

    I am glad that I could add something to your knowledge of wabi sabi...your art has a very wabi sabi feel to it with the choice of colours and textures and the materials that you find...I love it.

    Happy days

  23. I like this a lot. I had never heard of a wabibito before, but it is so obvious, now that I have, how much every culture needs a concept like this, to hold as a valued goal of human life.

  24. hello, I came back for a second reading and viewing- something I don't usually have time to do.. but I loved this post. thank you for the nice comment about my art.

  25. What a lovely post on Wabi sabi, and thanks for the wabibito info- I am proud to be a Wabibito.

  26. Hi Delwyn,

    I discovered your blog after reading a comment that Barb posted on one of my wabi-sabi postings. This is just a note to let you know that I really like your blog. It's visually beautiful, heartfelt, well-written, and full of wisdom. I plan to follow it and look forward to your future postings. I especially liked your piece on wabibitos, since wabi-sabi has been the subject of my last two postings and is something that I have given a great deal of thought to in recent weeks.

  27. Since 'wabi' can mean "forlorn," 'wabibito' can be translated as "forlorn person."
    In Seidensticker's translation of the Tale of Genji, he renders the word as "fugitive" when quoting Henjo's Kokinshu 292:
    The tree denies the fugitive its shelter.
    It sheds its scarlet leaves, and so rebuffs him.

    The Rodd & Henkenius translation of the Kokinshu translates it as "one who fled the world" in the same poem:

    there is no shelter
    here beneath these trees where one
    who fled the world has
    finally made his way the
    leaves of autumn have fallen

    There's an element of sadness and loneliness for the wabibito, congruent with the nature of wabi sabi as an aesthetic appreciation of the impermanence of things.


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