The Japanese celebration of the cherry blossom’s ephemeral nature is called Hanami. Hanami is more than merely a celebration of falling blossoms. It is a sometimes drunken celebration of individual humanity, the coming into being of each of us, and our inevitable washing away into the unknown. Tibetan Buddhist monks celebrate the wheel of life and death more abstractly by building complex, artistic, and intricate mandala-designs from sand. The Monks create a vast arrangement of colored grains that are chosen and destined to be scattered into formlessness as the Monks ceremonially scoop the sand into jars and release it into the river. The Monks once time-consuming labor of constructing complicated patterns of deities and symbolic worlds disintegrates into a nameless flow.
While Hanami shares the same underlying principle as Tibetan sand mandala ceremonies—the gradual arising of nature into formlessness—Japanese Hanami is far less abstract or symbolic. Hanami is simply the experience of natural beauty in the form of bloom and raining petals. The cherry blossoms are beautiful, but even more beautiful, or perhaps what makes them truly beautiful, is their short time here on earth, their simple expression, their inability to cling to the tree, and their willing surrender to time.
The true celebration of life, and in fact beautiful living itself, comes from letting go of the branch, embracing a world where there is neither being nor death; where there is only the flow of moments, floating petals on the wind, sunlight and shadows flickering beneath the tree, our own blooming into the eternal moments of now.
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