I love this iconic copper statue of the Hindu deity Shiva, created in 9th century India. Shiva is the destroyer of evil, often depicted as he is here, dancing the cosmos into existence by trampling the Dwarf of Ignorance. The purpose of his dance is “to release the souls of all men from the snare of illusion.” Shiva symbolizes creation and destruction. He destroys in order to create, tearing down to build again.
With roots reaching back into prehistory, Hinduism is the oldest of the world’s religions, and the most diverse. Hinduism grants absolute and complete freedom of belief and worship, including Hindu Atheism. It conceives the whole world as one family, and therefore it accepts all forms of beliefs and dismisses labels. It has no single founder, no single scripture, no single deity, no single prophet, no priesthood, and no single way to reach salvation.
Japanese stores always make me smile.
There’s something so artful and adorable about Japanese displays, trinkets and packaging. They have a way with making seemingly mundane objects feel genuinely delightful. Entire aisles are dedicated to creating amusing lunchboxes. As in, you open up your lunchbox and it’s like Disneyland in there!
The attention to detail is extraordinary. I find myself wanting to buy delicate wooden spoons, funny looking snacks, and ceramic incense burners for no reason whatsoever. How can anyone resist tiny frog-shaped bells on keychains and Pocky, I ask you?
I’ve traveled through many cultures looking at how people express their creativity, and for me, there’s no aesthetic philosophy more refined than the Japanese approach.
What blows me away is how evident beauty is in Japanese culture. Aesthetic values in Japan are an integral part of daily life, shaped by a set of ancient ideals. The concepts are profoundly specific, and what amazes me most is that they have no direct translation in other cultures.
To describe each of them for you here would require a lot more reading than you probably have time for, but in a nutshell, they include terms like wabi (transient and stark beauty), sabi (the beauty of natural patina and aging), yūgen (profound grace and subtlety), shibui (beauty with inner implications) and other poetic values that express the cycle of life as a dynamic whole.