Spirit of Place: Kyoto Garden, London

By Tereza Stehlíková

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Spirit is a breath is a wind
is the brother of the soul
– it animates the world from within
and infuses it with meaning

Japanese gardens trace their origin to respect and admiration for natural forms such as trees and rocks. These feelings towards nature, gradually refined by artistic creativity throughout history, express themselves in the form of the Japanese gardens we now have. Time is an element that adds to the garden's natural beauty. The climate affects the original design over the years, making the garden’s landscape even more natural and fitted to its locality

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THE SPIRIT SPEAKS THROUGH

the words of those who understand it
the way shadow is cast when the sun is
bright and low
the colour of leaves and how they fall
in the season of autumn, or not
the arrangement of pebbles,
tiles or cobblestones
the habits of cats
the intensity of certain dreams
the object made with loving hands
the omniscient silence which never is
the lack of sound

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THE SPIRIT SUFFERS

when nobody believes in it
when it is diluted, globalised, weakened
by influences with no spirit in them
when it is drowned in noise
which disrespects its language
when it is cut off from its roots
when the pebbles are rearranged
to follow the latest trend
when the natural rhythm of life is disrupted
and the seasons blur
when all marks of character and age
are considered a flaw
when old gods are cast out
and no worthy replacement is found

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THE SPIRIT CAN BE SAVED IF

we start looking with our own eyes
we remain curious
we dare to pause and look inwards
we remember what we used to know
a long time ago
we find faith in something greater
than we are
we respect trees, old buildings,
and those who are different
we attend to its voice which says
this life is worth more
than we give it credit for
we realise that the terrible price
for disregarding it is the loss of meaning.

Tereza Stehlíková (www.terezast.com)