Wisdom of Bamboo
In this video, I share the inspiration and some of the wisdom behind the piece “Bamboo” (Triptych, 75 x 48, Acrylic on canvas). I chose to draw bamboo as I have always been attracted to its unique straight and tall figure, its dynamic yet serene beauty, and the integrity it displays. But I was also intrigued by its traits such as its strength and resilience, and the wisdom that is drawn from them.I think the wisdom of bamboo might be of good use to all of us in times of challenge and need for inspiration. I hope you enjoy it!
Interesting Facts About Bamboo
Let me first talk about some basic facts about Bamboo so we know what is it about bamboo that makes it so popular and special.
Bamboo is actually a grass, not a tree. It is from the plant family known as Poaceae. It is a perennial evergreen and there are over 1,400 different species of bamboo in the world but all have a hard, woody, hollow stem.
Bamboo has a strong and resilient underground system of roots called rhizome. In the spring time, the shoots emerge out of the roots to grow in incredible speed, averaging 24 inches per day. It is considered one of the fastest growing plants on the planet.
After 60 days or so, the canes stop growing and energy is directed back to the roots where it expands and stores energy for the development for further canes and new shoots. Bamboo can become mature in just 2-3 years.
Bamboo strength and durability exceeds that of many other woods while still being quite a bit lighter. Strand woven bamboo is 2-3 times stronger and out-performs just about every hardwood in the market including mahogany, maple, or oak.
With added aesthetic beauty, bamboo has been used in many Asian countries for buildings, floorings, and furniture. Not only that, plaited bamboo cables are as strong or stronger than steel cables of the same size and has been used as construction material.
In China or in Hongkong, it has been used since the development of the earliest suspension bridges and scaffolds as you can see in this photo.
Bamboo as a valuable resource
Have you seen clothing or paper products made out of bamboo? Well, today our planet faces the threat of deforestation and the depletion of natural wildlife habitats due to human population growth, the need for farmland, and global warming. There is a mounting pressure on the wood industry to find sustainable and renewable sources.
Bamboo provides the best high performance alternative to wood products because it grows rapidly, is strong, and lasts a long time. It has multifaceted uses such as various paper products, fabrics and clothing, food, biofuel, etc.
One of the most unique and unusual ways that bamboo is used is for bike frames! The materials normally used for bikes frames like carbon fiber, aluminum, or titanium are all expensive and resource heavy whereas bamboo costs less to produce and is one of the most sustainable plants on planet earth. So why not? So in a nut shell, bamboo is an incredibly valuable recourse that has provided means to sustain many aspects of human life while taking enormous stress away from traditional hardwood production industries and allowing our beautiful trees to stay intact.
More to appreciate
There is so much more about bamboo that is worthy of our appreciation. In Japan, bamboo along with pine and plum tree, is thought to be authentic and auspicious, and used to decorate the new year cerebrations. That’s because they don't wither in the winter and are looked at as a symbol of resilience and perseverance.
Similarly in China, bamboo is a symbol of longevity because of its durability, flexibility, and resilience. When a storm comes, bamboo survives by bending with the wind. When the storm ceases, it resumes its upright position. It’s adaptability and ability to endure adversity combined with the strength to stand still, firmly connected in roots is quite inspiring.
So these are some of the reasons that make bamboo so special and I feel very attractive. No fancy flower or fruits, but its simplicity, vitality, strength, flexibility, and integrity are all qualities that I admire. And from such traits, many proverbs were born. Here are some of them that I‘d like to share.
Bamboo Proverb and inspirations
“Be like the bamboo, the higher you grow the deeper you bow.”
This reminds us the virtue of humility. Greatness should not be measured by appearance, but by one’s ability to bow down to others with modesty and compassion.
“Juu yoku gou wo seisu （柔能く剛を制す)”.
It is a Japanese proverb: It literally translates “The softness overcomes the hardness” and articulates the nature of bamboo, simulating that “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists（曲がる竹は抵抗する樫より強い )”. It is important to have raw strength, but you don't want to be too rigid. The ability to bend and adapt is important as well.
“Out of this hollowness of the bamboo, a flute can be made. The bamboo will not sing, but it can allow any song to pass through it.” by Osho
Finally this proverb mentions the mystical quality of bamboo being hollow. It reminds me of the Buddhist principle of emptiness. It’s a paradox where emptiness serves as a crucial part of wholeness. When you empty your mind, you are free of attachments, judgments, and desires and because of that, you are ever so full of potential and wholeness.