Alan Watts

To Taoism that which is absolutely still or absolutely perfect is absolutely dead, for without the possibility of growth and change there can be no Tao. In reality there is nothing in the universe which is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such concepts exist.

1 thought on “Alan Watts

  1. shinichi Post author

    This quote from Alan Watts regarding Zen’s predecessor, Taoism, captures beautifully the link between religious ideals and wabi sabi’s aesthetics. The Taoists in China were, in a very practical and Chinese way, trying to make the most of their lives by living in harmony with nature. It was only through the study of the natural flows of life that they could become one with the Tao, the mystical force that guides all men’s lives.

    Like a river, the Tao never remains still. This concept became a fundamental principle in the Taoist cosmic view and was to become a hallmark not only of Taoism but of the Zen that was to follow it. This deference for the random and sporadic was to find its voice in many forms of artistic endeavors as the art of the day was driven, as it is today, by the underlying religious beliefs of the artists. Wabi sabi, as a product of the Zen mind, can find its earliest roots in Zen’s forerunner, Taoism, and we will explore in these pages its development from its first inklings in China to the cultural icon that it became in Japan.

    Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence
    by Andrew Juniper
    The Development of Wabi Sabi (p.7)


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