Full moon, Full bloom


Why is it that your heart throbs to see the clouds covering the moon, the withered flowers on the ground?花は盛りに、月は隈なきをのみ見るものかは。雨にむかひて月を恋ひ、垂れこめて春の行方知らぬも、なほあはれに情け深し。咲きぬべきほどの梢、散りしをれたる庭などこそ見どころ多けれ。

Who says we should appreciate cherry blossoms only when they are in full bloom, the moon only when it glows without covering clouds? There is something more touching in wishing to see the moon behind the dark, rainy skies or doing nothing but imagine how spring passes us by behind the closed shades. Truly remarkable are bursting buds on the treetops, gardens dotted with faded flowers.
– Kenko Ramblings


One of the striking characteristic features of Japanese traditional sensitivity is sensing something that is not around – loss, distance, lack, something hidden or out of sight, or incompleteness. It’s about the moon behind the clouds. It’s about failing to see something enjoyable.

In appreciating beauty, imagination still plays a significant role. The image you get with the naked eye is what is passively received; what cannot be seen stirs up imagery in mind. Sometimes regrets or disappointments over failing to see blossoms can evoke aesthetically deeper feelings than joy and pleasure you get by seeing blossoms in full bloom.

Another factor is suggestion. Suggestion comes into play when something is about to happen and something is gone. Beauty resides in the process or transition from the beginning – through the middle – to the end, just as stories can not be told without any of these three stages. The beginning suggests promise; the end reminiscences. Buds suggest their coming prime; fallen, faded flowers their past. This attitude allows you to see things the way they are, to be aware of a rich story behind what can be seen and to find that beauty abounds.

Beauty cannot be appreciated only when something is in the prime or in each stage of its transition. See beauty in its whole transition just as incompleteness suggests past effort and future growth. Take things as a whole, in their transition. Then you can take on the universe.





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