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CHERRY BLOSSOMS IN JAPAN

By Kye Nelson

Kye Nelson is a Focusing Coordinator in Texas, USA. Her e-mail is kyenelson@antheosophia.org and her web site is www.antheosophia.org

Before I was in Japan to teach TAE this past March, I didn’t understand anything about the beauty of cherry blossoms seen through Japanese eyes. I only saw cherry blossoms through Western eyes. Of course, I still only see them through Western eyes, and I hesitate to try to say my understanding of how the beauty of cherry blossoms is experienced in Japan. I know that the way I say it here will be wrong in some important way. Because of this, at first I tried to write something else for this article. But the beauty of the cherry blossoms haunted me, and insisted on being included.

I was told that the beauty of cherry blossoms lies in one’s feeling their imminent absence. Cherry blossoms are beautiful partly because they are so ephemeral. It is a bittersweet beauty. Even as they are just beginning to blossom one feels the pain of their ending already present.
I was told that one must be willing to let the cherry blossoms go. Only in letting them go can one really experience cherry-blossom beauty. It is a paradoxical kind of beauty. If the ephemeral were to stay, it would no longer be the ephemeral. In a way, the letting go of it IS cherry-blossom beauty.

I heard that ancient shrines are rebuilt in a new location every 20 years. This is a way of preserving something very precious. After 20 years, the wood is not so strong as it was. When they let go of the old structure, what it was that made that structure is carried forward and renewed.
“Japanese culture is like the cherry blossoms on an old and beautiful tree.” I was told that the Japanese people love their culture, and still they are letting go of it. This is seen as necessary so that the new way can come and Japan can renew itself.

A participant in Tokyo wrote me that with the economy the way it is, the Japanese people have lost confidence. She said that they need to find their new direction together, but this time, each from within themselves. I think the hunger to find this new direction may be part of the reason that so many people attended: about 70 came on the first day in Tokyo. Tadayuki Murasato, who has been teaching TAE in Japan for the last two years, says he loves the practice and has made it his mission to bring it to Japan “because we don’t have to lose anything important to ourselves and, at the same time, are able to carry ourselves to others.”

The culture will be rebuilt like a shrine. And maybe TAE can help with this.

I think this role of TAE began to happen on a small scale during the time I was there. I think this might have been part of the feeling many of us had, of participating in something of historical significance. Whether this is true or not, I would like to think that TAE is contributing something to Japanese culture. Certainly a lot is happening in the wake of the workshops. Two of the participants who are teachers are planning to begin using TAE with their students. And Mieko Osawa, who organized the Tokyo workshops, has begun an e-mail newsletter/discussion list for TAE.

TAE feels very Japanese. At the end of those three days, Katsuko Usui, who organized the workshops in the Tokai district, said that she came expecting to eat cake—but she didn’t expect the cake to taste of soybean!

Some years ago Akira Ikemi wrote in The Focusing Connection (January, 2001) that he thinks Focusing is well received in Japan “because of its emphasis on the pre-conceptual, that is, on what is more than what words can easily say.” He says this emphasis is compatible with the assumption that “the Focusing we can talk about is not the true Focusing.” This, of course, is the beginning place for TAE. When I think of the three dots with which we hold the place for “more than words can say” in TAE, I think I understand a little of why TAE “tastes of soybean.”

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