Monday, October 09, 2006
To Dwarf a Giant-The "Art" that is Bonsai
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a bonsai? Bonsai is an “art” that originated in China, was popularised by the Japanese, and now has spread worldwide. Bonsai, which means “a plant in a tray”, is the dwarfing of a tree or shrub by confining it to a pot or pruning it. Although it is never denied any nourishment in the form of air, water, or sunlight, and is fed with all the nutrients a plant needs to thrive, I have always found this “art form” very repulsive and even downright inhuman. How sad is it to watch a giant transformed into a dwarf? Can you put yourself in such a situation and feel its pain? Of course, there will be lots of people who would laugh at this.. plants and pain?? I must admit I was one of those people until a few years back, when I began to sense, subtly but surely, that the life force that beats in me beats in everything around me too- in rocks, in animals, in the mountains, in the rivers, in the grass, in the trees. The more I fell in love with nature, the more I appreciated the beauty and majesty of trees, the more I could palpably feel the loneliness and sadness such a tree would feel if it were forced to live out its life in the confines of a tiny little tray, forced to dwarf its grandeur, shrink its spirit, and become truly just a shadow of itself. Do trees have a self? That could be the question. Could trees know the difference? Feel the pain? I really don’t know for sure, on an empirical basis, but one thing I have noticed is that every living thing has an innate urge to grow, to expand, to become more of what it should be. Growing is what nature intended us to do, not shrinking! So even though a “bonsaied” plant may seem aesthetically appealing, it sure seems to be going against everything nature intended! I only wish people who are Bonsai connoisseurs would, even for one moment, see beyond the aesthetics of the plant and into the real spirit that resides in the tree, and feel the pain of a truly magnificent spirit, destined to live a life of grandeur, but now doomed to shrivel and die in a tiny little pot….and all for nothing!