The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi is a difficult one for us non-natives to grasp. The phrase has origins in religious concepts of solitude and seperation from society. This is not perceived as negative in the Buddhist tradition since isolation, when combined with other conditions, creates the right environment for enlightenment.

Wabi-sabi refers to the concept that nothing is permanent, nothing is perfect, and nothing is ever finished. Aesthetically, this manifests in art objects (especially pottery) that may be conventionally regarded, perhaps, as ugly. However within the imperfection lies an element of beauty. In Wabi-Sabi the concept of beauty itself is turned upside down and a rustic, unfinished, asymmetrical, even damaged object is viewed as desirable. And yes, Wabi-Sabi art can command high sums of money. It takes a discerning eye to appreciate and recognize the true gift of the artist.

Wabi-sabi is a philosophy, a concept, a movement, an idea that we could all use in our day to day lives. If you would like to learn more, I recommend a small but inspiring book called "Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers" by Leonard Koren.

The bottom line is this: Look not once but twice, and look deeply. You will see beauty everywhere.

Wabi-Sabi holds a strong fascination for me because it harks back to elemental, almost primeval concepts of art. It finds loveliness in the rough-hewn, natural state. In this, I find similarities with Taoist thought. There are fascinating stories to be found within withered trees, crumpled paper, wrinkled faces....One must appreciate impressions created by the effects of nature and the passing of time.

I have a beloved Wabi-Sabi bowl which I use to hold snacks. It is misshapen and a bit worn. My bowl is a daily reminder that seeking humility is superior to seeking perfection.