Kintsugim: A Philosophy of Life


Kintsugim, an ancient art of repairing ceramics, has gained great interest among Western audiences recently. Instead of throwing broken pieces away, artisans put them back together using urushi lacquer–derived from Rhus vernicifluasa tree resin–and gold or silver leaf for repairs. This process not only creates new objects, but also transforms them to possess different kinds of beauty – cracks and damage are highlighted rather than concealed to reflect wabi-sabi aesthetic principles.

This aesthetic teaches us to embrace imperfection and embrace aging as opposed to Western practices that glorify youth and perfection. The practice can be seen as an extension of Zen practice of no-mind (mushin), which emphasizes nonattachment to change and accepting fate as part of daily life.

Speakers at the event discussed how Kintsugi isn’t just an art technique – it’s also a philosophy of life. Tea master Sen no Rikyu from 16th century Japan treasured an ancient jar that had been cracked by one of his students, which when repaired was repaired using golden lacquer to join its fragments together again – something Rikyu considered even more beautiful as it demonstrated that these cracks were part of its history and beauty.

People seeking enlightenment should not fear experiencing difficulties or challenges in their lives; such events can help strengthen them through learning how to reconcile these difficulties and draw positive lessons from them.

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