I came across the Greek word ‘Kairos’ when reading an article about ‘Yugen’ (a profound mysterious sense of beauty of the Universe). In contrast Kairos is used in the sense of there is a time and place for everything.
Chronos in Greek means chronological or sequential time, whereas Kairos describes an opportune moment. Its use in the Bible is ‘appointed time’ or ‘crucial time’ but can also be used as ‘season’.
However, researching this word further I discovered that Hippocrates used it more in terms of using the different aspects of medical practice more accurately. This has been taken in modern times to mean ‘creating an opening’ and Kairos emphasises change.
I have given this thought in terms of what it might mean in terms of Reiki.
If we consider the Gokai, be diligent in your practice, then Kairos would be about not only paying attention to how you incorporate the many facets of Reiki into your everyday life, but to also have a space in your day where you Mindfully engage with Reiki.
From the perspective of Teate or palm-healing, then it is about creating the environment for the Body or Mind or Spirit to heal. This particularly resonates for me in terms of the aspect of how individuals need to take responsibility for themselves, and it is not about a ‘quick fix’ but actually being committed to the whole idea of healing oneself. It is that aspect where the Reiki Practitioner can offer an individual the opportunity to engage with Reiki, but whether the Reiki helps that person is another thing if they choose not to heal – whether this is consciously or unconsciously. An example is the person who attends a laying on of hands event and thinks that if they take their disabled Body there, the person administering the laying on of hands will cure them. Initially it may mean they ‘take up their bed and walk’, but if getting well means they don’t get other needs met they will soon retire to their wheelchair or their bed.
Change is a theme that is returned to over and over again in Reiki. Usui-Sensei asked that we live our lives being totally aware that change is happening all of the time. His writing in his diary of ‘stars, mist and candle flames, mirages, dewdrops and water bubbles, like dreams, lightning and clouds, in that way I will view all existence’ encourages us to be Mindful of how our life changes moment-by-moment, how the breath changes breath-by-breath and that things will never stay the same, happy moments will fade into disappointing moments, sad things will fade and joyful things take their place, and so on.
This can also lead us to thinking about Wabi-Sabi. Originally, I began incorporating this into Shinpiden courses around 2010, when it was simply about the idea of things change and things are not perfect, a potter may not make a perfectly round vase, objects decline, e.g. cups chip and for the Shinpiden student to find their own object to work with on the way things age or decline. This still continues and Shinpiden students are imaginative and creative about their studies of this concept.
Over the years I have written about various perspectives of this concept.
In researching ‘Trust’ I came across Tibetan Buddhist Nun Robin Courtin’s suggestion that until we have come to understand our own fallible nature, it is difficult to trust others. If we lack self-worth we tend to choose our friends unwisely. We have expectations other people cannot fulfil and then we are gutted when things go wrong. Wabi-Sabi enables us to view our own behaviour patterns, our physical quirks and all the flaws and defects we ‘see’ in ourselves. Looking through the Wabi-Sabi Lens allows us to take responsibility for our perceived failings and enables us to make wise choices. We gain the Wisdom to know when to entrust others with our thoughts and feelings and what to expect from them in return. Ariana (Dancu or Reines depending on which source you find!) in her poem Come to me whole with your scars and flaws offers us the opportunity to consider our imperfections in a way that others see them – galaxies in our eyes, fire in our hair, journeys in our palms and adventure waiting in our smile. They see what we do not in a truly Wabi-Sabi thought – that we are absolutely, maddeningly and irrevocably PERFECT!
Wabi-Sabi is an art form and if we wish, it can become a way of life.
The original meaning is to be humble and be truly oneself without any pretence. Wabi translates as ‘being modest’ and Sabi as ‘the bloom of time’.
In Reiki we often work with this to work with imperfection, so that we can see it as beautiful. In Japan it is about the appreciation of natural processes which are inevitable – it is another way of looking at change – the nature of impermanence.
This may mean a crack or chip in a beautiful vase, or the moss that grows on a water feature, or it is the cracks that appear in timber as it ages, or the way ‘crinkly tin’ rusts. It is the way Nature manifests its reclamation of all that is in it.
Wabi-Sabi can also mean craftsmanship and rejection of mass production. It is about going into your garden and carefully considering each part and each planting area as a piece of art and seeing how it all works harmoniously.
It is a rejection of plastic or fibreglass reproductions, and looking for carefully sculpted features, carved timber, hand-crafted clay pots, all of which will wear and age gracefully, increasing in character rather than becoming unusable. It is the idea that we will consume less and truly appreciate imperfection.
The three principles of Wabi-Sabi are: nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is imperfect. During the recent spate of ‘flower shows’ at Chelsea, Hampton Court and Tatton Park, it was easy to think that there is never a wilted flower, never a bare piece of ground, never a muddy bit, which may cause us to think that our own garden space is lacking. However, if we stay content in the Wabi-Sabi principles, we can adhere to more of the Reiki principles of ‘no expectations’ (bare soil, wilted plants and in these times of glorious summer sun, the absence of a beautiful, deep green, manicured lawn), ‘accepting impermanence’ and the ‘cycle of life’ where we can leave plants to go to seed and in some ways brighten our gardens on winter mornings when these seed heads are covered in hoar frost. These seed heads remind us of samsara and the passing of time through the cycle of birth, growth and death. Instead of asking ourselves “is it perfect?” we can choose to ask “is it meaningful to me?” “is it beautiful?” “is it natural in the way Nature intended?”
Wabi Sabi encourages patience, it cannot be rushed, we need to take time to explore the craftsmanship, the materials, and be able to appreciate the imperfections that surround us everywhere in Nature. Nature is authentic. When trees die and they lie on the woodland floor they mature in ways we cannot imagine and provide different environments for life from what they did as tall and strong trees. Nature does not try to tidy it up, yet remains magnificent. If we can relax the twenty-first century idea that everything is replaceable as it ages, we get closer to working in Oneness with life.
Usui-Sensei wanted us to be really comfortable with the transience of life. A way of looking at the transience of life is to study a weathered building. Consider the cycle of the birth, growth and decay and apply this to yourself. From dust (birth) grew the building (growth) and every rainstorm, every gale, every gorgeous hot summer’s day, decay causes it to return to dust. Where are your strengths that help you weather your own decaying? What does Compassion teach you? What is it about Wabi-Sabi that makes you unique?