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Wabi-Sabi Wednesday: Zen Principles for a Good Home

4/27/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: wabi-sabi, Wabi-Sabi Wednesday, Zen, Buddhism, Simply Imperfect

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailOn Wabi-Sabi Wednesdays, I feature excerpts from my upcoming book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, which will be released in early May. 

Zen Buddhisms’s seven ruling principles are wabi-sabi’s foundation. They are the foundation of good design and the basis for a serene and happy home—and life.



1. Asymmetry (Fukinsei) 

Stiff, frozen symmetry and artificial perfection are imagination’s nemesis. More human than godlike, asymmetry is loose and spontaneous.


 2. Simplicity (Kanso) 

Zen is sparse, fresh and neat.


3. Austerity (Koko) 

Zen asks us to reduce to “the pith of essence,” down to the essentials.


4. Naturalness (Shizen) 

Zen is without pretense or self-consciousness.

 subtle profundity 

5. Subtle Profundity (Yugen) 

Within Zen lies a deep reserve, a mysterious, shadowy darkness. The hint of soft moonlight through a skylight would be yugen. 

freedom from worldly attachments 

6. Freedom from Worldly Attachments (Datsuzoku) 

The Buddha taught non-attachment to life, things and rules. “It is not a strong bond, say the wise, that is made of iron, wood, or hemp. Far greater an attachment than that is the longing for jewels and ornaments, children and wives,” he said.

7. Silence (Seijaku)  

Inwardly oriented, Zen embraces the quiet calm of dawn, dusk, late autumn and early spring.  

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