Updated 30 June 2020
Still in the Stream is about maintaining a low state of agitation while the waters of life flow around you. The images and posts here foster that ideal.
There is a beauty in stillness. A rare beauty. Most people’s lives are active, and stimulating. There can be beauty in that too, but this site is a reflection of my own search for a level of stillness that enhances a quality we know as Sabi.
I define Sabi in some detail on some of the pages here, but it is only one of the elements I’m interested in that comes to us when we slow down, notice, and appreciate what is actually going on.
For 7 years, from 2007 to 2014, I paddled 100 lakes on Vancouver Island seeking sabi in the ancient tradition of kanjaku.
Kanjaku is a Japanese word that joins leisure or idleness (kan) with loneliness or stillness (jaku). Lonely idling, or leisurely stillness. This was the term that the renowned Japanese poet Basho declared should be the state in which “one’s mind should stay.”
Peipei Qiu writes in Basho and the Dao:
“Sabishisa in Basho’s poems is often not a landscape infused with the sentiment of loneliness but the fundamental tranquility found in the harmonious fusion of the external world and the poetic mind.”
Not merely loneliness, sabi is a mood experienced in solitude, that fosters a clear awareness. In this state nature is accurately perceived through the serenity of poetic vision and a type of Kenshō is possible.
My exploration of sabi increased this kind of vision and started my journey out of clinical anxiety towards freedom.
In the process of writing two books on Wabi Sabi, and then practicing Kanjaku, I gained a series of insights and practices that have produced healing. I plan to unpack them here so that others who are suffering might find some options for their own recovery.
From 2015 to the end of 2018 I focused on how sabi and related perspectives and practices can enhance our ability to overcome anxiety and suffering. By increasing sensitivity to sabi an important shift in awareness is possible that can ultimately strengthen resiliency and character. Now I am looking into Heidi Hanna’s idea that resiliency is not sufficient or even sometimes helpful. We need to understand our own stress sensitivity and learn to adapt both our thinking and our environment.
Beginning in January of 2019 I devoted more time to a deeper exploration of beauty. This exploration has been with camera’s in nature.
In 2020 I have continued this exploration, especially noticing the connection between stillness and beauty.
My goal now is to develop the metaphor of lenses with stillness and perspective. There are so many analogues from photography, but I’m also realizing that those who relate to them are a small number, so I likely will move more towards the search for and capture of still images – stills. It is a theraputic process, and one that seems in line with this long search for solution to an over-agitated life.
Richard R. Powell