Today I’d like to introduce my new art pieces called En-Serendipity and Ichigo Ichie, and talk about the meanings and inspiration behind them.
Those words are so special to me because they are strongly tie to Japanese culture and the way of thinking but, at the same time, I found them so universal in a way that will help us appreciate our life, regardless where you are from. So let’s dive in!
En in Japanese means affinity, fate and destiny. It also means special connection, bond, or relationship between people, things, or conditions; it’s a mysterious and indirect force that binds them together. It can be used to describe special relationships such as marriage and friendship, or special things that you are very passionate about.
We can use this word in many different situations but just to give you an example, we say something like “The day that we fell in love with each other, we knew we were going to get married. We owe it to En” or “En brought us together.” But En can be used either in a positive or negative manner cuz some unhappy relationships or unfortunate events are also part of our lives.
The underlying idea of EN is that "everything is connected", which came from “engi”, a key doctrine of Buddhism. It translates to “dependent origination”, or “dependent arising”, and explained as "if this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, then that also ceases to exist”.
In fact, everything that we face in the present moment, every meeting between people and every connection has arisen in dependence upon all other things. For one particular thing to occur, numerous things must have happened to cause it at any point between the past and the present moment.
If any of the myriad of events were missing, things might not have happened in the way that they had happened. What seems to be randomly occurring has been occurring on a multi-dimensional level, simultaneously determining our reality.
This perspective makes us realize how unique and rare the relationships and connections that we have (including families and friends, work relations, or any affiliations). Some people call it fate, and that’s “En”.
Similar to En in its concept, there is a special Japanese saying called “Ichigo- Ichie '' that expresses the mysterious and inexplicable nature of meeting people. It translates “once in a lifetime" and describes a beautiful cultural concept of treasuring the unrepeatable nature of a moment of connection.
When I think about this word, I cannot help thinking of all the people that I have met over the course of my life: not only families and close friends, and those who I have built special connections with but so many others who I encountered totally in a very unexpected and serendipitous way.
Like the way you can be impacted by someone who sits next you on an airplane who you talk to for a few hours. Sometimes it is the random decisions you make that create circumstances where someone or something can walk into your life and change it forever.
What about you? Who arises in your mind? I want you to take a moment and think about the people that you met at some point in your life. They all impacted you in one way or another as they were all interwoven into your life in some way and have shaped you.
Even if some people weren’t who we chose to keep close and we weren’t aware how they would influence our life at that time, they all helped us directly and indirectly, learn and understand something better about this world.
To me, this kind of human connection, Ichigo- Ichie, is one of the most valuable possessions in life and one that has been brought by “En”.
So again, here is the inspiration behind the art piece “En-Serendipity”. Its unique perception of life and the concept “everything is connected” helps us see what seems to be an unpredictable and uncontrollable world in a different lens.
It reminds us how mysterious and delicate the chain of occurrences are in life and how miraculous the impact of each interaction can be. It makes us appreciate what we have rather than what we don’t.
I hope you enjoyed this video. See you next time!