Welcome

Updated 23 January 2018

This website explores how sabi and a variety of other perspectives and practices can enhance your 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. Sabi is not the only element needed, but it seems to link many important ones.

Other related topics I’m particularly interested in and actively exploring include surrender, high sensitivity, forest bathing, wisdom traditions, mindbody work, schema therapy, attachment styles, narrative and story, dialectic therapy, meditation, photography, poetry, internal family systems theory, memesis, and the scientific exploration of unorthodox views of reality.

My Experience

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.

I hope you find a welcomed difference here. Please feel free to comment and engage me in discussion. I’m interested in hearing from others who are working with these same or similar insights and experiences in the stream of existence.

Richard R. Powell

14 Comments

  1. Richard, thank you very much for your research! I was inspired by the book “Wabi Sabi – the path of simplicity.” It is a pity that in Russia it is the only book that can help start the search for ways of Wabi Sabi in my own life. Now I want to read this site! Please continue your research! If possible, I’d love to chat with you!

    Reply

    1. Hi Yuriy, I just found your comment after being pre-occupied by other things for about a year. I’m currently writing a book, so the research of sabi, wabi sabi, and all things related continues. Your URL looks defunct. Are you still around?

      Reply

      1. Richard, good day! I was not hoping to get an answer! Thank you!
        This is my mail mokkou@ya.ru. I’m always available for this contact.

  2. Hello Richard, I am so pleased to have stumbled over some rocks in the stream and found myself face-to-face with your blog site. I read your two Wabi Sabi books often, as part of my daily meditations. I give them to others regularly. (have to find them used online)
    I’m very excited that you are continuing to write books. We need them down here in the States more than ever! Carry on! Charlene

    Reply

    1. Hi Charlene, I am very touched to hear that you are regularly reading my wabi sabi books. You must have an interesting journey to be so thoughtful and deliberate about wabi sabi. I have been watching the events, political and otherwise, in the States of late and it has guided my own reflections. Cultivating openness and an acceptance of impermanence is part of the solution to carrying on during such times. I hope you find what you need in the midst of all this!

      Reply

  3. Hi. I am writing an article on concpets like hygge, lagom, etc, and wabi sabi. Could you please send me a simple definition that I can quote? And also a few lines on why you became interested in this. My deadline is tomorrow! I can send you a pdf and link for your records. I would also need a simple portrait of you in high resolution.
    Many thanks!

    Reply

  4. Forgot to say this is for El Mercurio, the most important newspaper in Chile, South America

    Reply

    1. Hi Sofia, Sorry to have missed your deadline. I seem to have a problem getting notifications of comments, even though I have checked to make sure the settings are right in my control panel. Your request is a difficult one. defining wabi sabi is something I’m not sure I can do reliably as my understanding changes the more I experience it. If you still are interested, the definitions in the glossary of this site are pretty good: https://stillinthestream.com/glossary/

      Reply

      1. Sofia.Beuchat@mercurio.cl November 6, 2017 at 4:30 am

        Thanks!

        ________________________________

  5. You might enjoy Harold Bloom’s *The Daemon Knows: Literature and the American Sublime* (not sure exact title)

    Reply

    1. Thanks Katherine, your feedback is encouraging!

      Reply

  6. Richard:
    I’ve read Wabi-Sabi Simple and curious about the wabi sabi versus tech slick lists you and Leonard Koren have compiled. There are few differences between your two lists but I am struck by the absence of the degradability-maintenance pair from your list. I have my own grasp of the challenge deploying or interpreting that pair. There is an opportunity to associate maintenance and degradability both with wabi sabi and probably a belief that the modern or tech slick purport to escape both. Still I’d be curious to know why you left it off your list and know I ought reread Koren.
    Also, in Wabi Sabi for Writers you have a list of wabi sabi fiction and I might propose the novels of Nicholson Baker, especially 1) Room Temperature and 2) Box of Matches if there is ever a revised edition of your book.
    Great work on both books. I appreciate the depth and breadth with which you reflect upon Wabi Sabi.

    Cheers

    Reply

  7. Hi Patrick,
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The short answer to your question is that I am not sure I see degradability and maintenance as fitting on either list. Perhaps you have thought more deeply on this and can point me in the right direction. To me, all things degrade, but not all degraded things are wabi sabi. Recently, I have been collecting old cameras and lenses. They are definitely highly technical objects. I started collecting them to use, but recently I have been appreciating the aesthetic qualities of some of these older cameras. Like many new cameras, these old ones are beautiful in the iki sense. Sophisticated, understated, cleverly engineered, and beguilingly complex and simple at the same time. But some cameras, like the old Yashika I just bought for $20 with it’s worn leather case, are also wabi sabi. This old Yashika has been well maintained and cared for, yet there is variability in the colour of the metal, dents and dings, and fading in the lettering and it smells of cigar smoke. You can just feel something from it, a mellow beauty. The old tools inherited from my grandfather are the same, especially the chisels and square. They are still very functional, and have been maintained, but they are definitely wabi sabi, due in part to the build up of stains and the deepening of colours with age.
    I recently visited a tea farm and will be writing a blog post about it. The owners embrace wabi sabi and reflect it in their tea and their tea utensils. It struck me as Victor was discussing the way tea is halted in the fermentation process in order to capture the desired flavours, and in talking about how the best tea comes after a hard winter when the bushes are stressed, that this is the dynamic of life pushing against harshness, of human involvement in “making” wabi sabi products. It goes to the philosophical question of if anything exists if there is no observer to witness it.
    Wabi sabi is, in this sense, a judgement about the value of a thing before it has ceased to be valuable. Old tea leaves eventually becomes unusable, but for a period of time they continue to improve and improve. I have a 17 year old Oolong that is so smooth and subtle it reinforces my belief that age has the great power to improve things. I keep this Oolong carefully sealed in a moisture resistant container, maintaining it’s quality.
    I look forward to hearing your take on the degradation/maintenance diad.
    Regarding Nicholson Baker, I read Box of Matches and found it too… something. I didn’t feel much while reading it. So I’m not sure. That was a number of years ago so I could re-try it.
    Kind regards,
    Richard

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.