Connecting with nature
That’s where Chōwa can help us. Chōwa ‘s power may not be enough to solve all the world’s problems and fully restore the climate, but it can help us on an individual level. Realizing our bond with nature allows us to reconnect with nature. Take the time to think about this and let it sink in. How do you relate to nature? How do you feel connected to nature?
The ‘Wa’ of Chōwa in nature stands for the perfect balance. Nature is beautiful and powerful. It is both our salvation and our downfall. For better or for worse, we are part of the cycle of creation and destruction of nature, forever. We as humans are as much a part of nature as any animal and plant on Earth. We are nature, which is why it is so important to be in balance with it.
Mono no aware
Nature is beautiful. Just think of the beautiful summer afternoons in a park; everyone is happy and joyful and frolicking about merrily. Those are the moments when we as humans can really enjoy nature. But when we watch the news in the evening and see that there has been a huge forest fire or tsunami, we are once again forced to face the facts and see how devastating the world can be.
It can make you feel sad, and it is precisely then that it is important not to forget the beautiful sides of nature. The Japanese call this ‘ Mono no aware. This is the realization that nature is beautiful, and that everything beautiful will pass at some point, but you can still enjoy life.
We should not only be aware of the problems that are going on in the world right now. Consciousness alone is too distant and changes nothing. We have to empathize with the world and realize what we are about to lose. From there, we must determine what we can do to make the world a better place.
It is no secret that we live in a consumer society. Everywhere you look you see advertisements for the latest gadgets or most innovative cosmetic products. We always want to buy, buy, buy. As soon as we see something new – a newer or better version of a product we already have – we want to buy it immediately. And what do we do with the old products that we no longer need? We’ll throw that away.
Japan, they have done things differently since the Edo era. Instead of constantly purchasing new products, they try to restore the old product first. This shows respect and gratitude towards the product, and the production process and it is better for the environment. Only when a product can no longer be made and used is it recycled.
This is what the Japanese call ‘Mottainai’. Mottainai can be translated as “don’t waste, don’t want”. It encourages us to get the most out of our stuff and fix them when they’re broken. It’s not about owning as much stuff as possible and we certainly shouldn’t just throw all those possessions away.
Think about that the next time you clean up your house. Don’t throw your old things away right away, but give them to someone who can use them better. Is there no one close to you who is interested in your wares? There are plenty of thrift stores and charities eager to get your stuff!
Due to the rise of cleaning guru Marie Kondo, we have started cleaning up en masse. We have thrown out all the things that no longer make us happy to get more order and peace in our home and our lives. But then we bought back just as much stuff and our house is filled again and the peace is gone again. This is because we fail to address the root of the problem, the desire for things. By desiring less, you also need less and you will therefore easily be able to keep that peace in your home.
Within Chōwa this concept is called ‘sho-yoku, chi-soku’ , which means something like ‘little desire, great satisfaction. It means that you should not only get rid of your stuff but also actually reduce the desire for those things. We live in abundance and therefore we also know what it is to have enough. We don’t have to hoard all the time, because there is no shortage in the Netherlands. If we were to reduce our desire for things, we would not have to buy something new all the time and we would be so much happier with the things we already have. And the less stuff we buy, the better for nature.
So think carefully the next time you buy something new. Do you actually need the product or do you already have something similar at home and do you just want the new product? consider the impact your purchase may have on the environment. This does not mean that you should never buy anything new again, but try to be more considerate of nature. We don’t need so many things to be happy. Happiness and balance come from within! Enjoy the nature around you and try to love the world, despite the finiteness of life.