Sunday, January 11, 2009


My friend Winnie and I went to Grammy Award winning Chanticleer’s performance at Memorial Church in Stanford University Wednesday night. The chorus’ singing was lovely. When the two 50 minutes session finally finished, the audience gave them long time applause. The singers came on the stage again and sang Silent Night.

We walked in the campus to the parking lot. It was a lovely warm winter night. It was foggy and sprinkled a little bit. The lights were blurry and soft. Winnie and I talked about the performance. I realized that the singing by the chorus did not sound like male voices (yang) or female voices (ying), Winnie agreed. When listening to the singing, the only feeling was harmony. Twelve male voices in the range from countertenor to bass were seamlessly blended. It was a charming performance and I was so glad that I went.

Lately, I have been studying Chinese ying-yang theory. The performance reminded me Laotze (老子)’s teaching about harmony: “ying envelopes yang and yang holds ying, the dynamic balance with ying and yang is the harmony (万物负阴抱阳沖气以為和)”.

Most Oriental art forms, like Ikebana, were rooted in China, therefore, they are based on Chinese philosophy, ying-yang is one of them. When I was in Japan for Ikebana International Convention, the headmaster of Misho-ryu explained how to apply ying-yang theory in his school, there always a ying branch and a yang branch in a Misho-ryu style arrangement. In my own study, I did not pay much attention to which branch is ying or which is yang. Instead, I am more focused to achieve the balance as whole. There are many pairs need to be balanced in a arrangement, like darker color and light color, long branch and short branch, line or mess, strong or soft, full filled or empty space, and so on. There may be imbalance with any of the pair, but when the imbalances co-exist in one arrangement, and the arrangement is viewed in whole and is balanced, then the arrangement is in harmony. In turn, harmony is the beauty.

At this Saturday’s ikebana class, I had two kiwi branches, one banana leaf, and three anthuriums. After arranged kiwi branches and the three anthuriums, I decided to tear off the banana leaf and cut it to smaller pieces to use in the arrangement. That brought the needed green color and softness feeling into the arrangement and also made connection between the kiwi branches and the anthuriums.

Wish that the arrangement bring you harmony in the new year, wish you have harmonious family and harmonious working environment. Wish all of us harmonious society, harmonious world and harmonious universe.

Enjoy the arrangement and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,
Yirou (以柔).



harkinna said...

Hi! I am staying at a hotel in Philadelphia. They had an orchid and used little mini green hair clips to keep the stem attached to the pole. It was an elegant and unobtrusive solution to a difficult problem! I thought of you when I saw it. :)

以柔 said...

Thank you. Nice to hear from you.

以柔 said...

From a reader:

I am so grateful meeting you and get to read your beautiful articles.

I never like Monday before, nobody like the first day back to work
after weekend, now there is something to look for, I am going to have Happy Monday from now on.


以柔 said...

From another reader:

As a "happy Monday" reader, I would like to say thank you for your charming articles and elegant flower
arrangements. It becomes my routine to read your Happy Monday at the beginning of each week. In deed, I
really enjoy them.

Wish you the best.

Happy holiday!!


以柔 said...

Another one:

As always thank you for the lovely Monday morning it gives so much courage I am sure to other people that you make this effort every week for us. It means a lot to me.