Yūgen

November 3, 2012 § 1 Comment

Greylag geese over croft at sunset.

Yūgen is a Japanese word pertaining to a profound awareness of the universe which evokes feelings that are inexplicably deep and too mysterious for words.

The word itself is like an extension of awareness, the aesthetic perception which allows us to conceive of the vastness of the universe but carries it beyond into an inconceivably mysterious realm. The feeling of Awareness is induced by confrontation to the brevity of life, and yugen is initiated from the awareness that even ‘aware’ itself is an ephemeral thing.

Zeami Motokiyo’s description portrays a medium through which one may experience the unspeakably deep, stirring, feeling of yugen:

“To watch the sun sink behind a flower clad hill. To wander on in a huge forest without thought of return. To stand upon the shore and gaze after a boat that disappears behind distant islands. To contemplate the flight of wild geese seen and lost among the clouds.”

That’s Yūgen.

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