"The Japanese empathy with the life and death of flowers is reflected in the very word 'ikebana' which is derived from ikeru (to make live) and hana (flowers). All Japanese art, not only ikebana, inevitably springs from this view of nature - a moment of seeing the common life-force at the heart of all things, and becoming one with it."
- Toshiro Kawase, "The Book of Ikebana"
Arranging flowers helps us to open up and listen to the flowers. The flowers take centre stage and guide us in our expression. Thus we are no longer trapped by our own preconceived ideas about reality. In this understanding beauty comes from seeing and appreciating things as they are, not as we want them to be. We discover actual freedom, and Ikebana becomes a spiritual path.
One day the Shogun Hideyoshi wanted to see the famous morning glories in bloom in Tea master Sen no Rikyu's garden. So he was invited for a tea ceremony by Rikyu, set for very early in the morning, which is the best time for viewing morning glories. However, when he arrived, all the flowers had been cut down. Seething with anger, Hideyoshi entered the tea house. There he found a single morning glory arranged in the tokonoma, a flower of such perfection that he was overwhelmed by its presence.
The Ohara School of Ikebana originated in Japan almost 150 years ago. It aimed to reconnect with the simplicity of nature through close observation. While being completely open to the modern world, its forms evolved over time inspired by the elegance of traditional Japanese culture. These forms were transmitted to me in Japan in the most traditional way by strict, but generous teachers. And now I wish these teachings will be passed on to the students of Tenku-an.