Yugen is an awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words. Yugen is at the core of the appreciation of beauty and art in Japan. It values the power to evoke rather than the ability to state directly. The principle of Yugen shows that real beauty exists when, through it’s suggestiveness, only a few words, or brush strokes, can suggest what has not been said or shown, and hence awaken many inner thoughts and feelings. “Yugen is to watch the sun sink behind a flower-clad hill, to wander on and 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.” (urbandictionary.com)
The concept of Yugen suggests that true beauty lives in the moments of life in between the grand gestures of greatness and is found in the subtle, yet suggestive efforts that can evoke emotion beyond words. Those fleeting times that take your breath away and remind you that life has depth beyond our awareness. These times give us hope and courage to move forward and inspire the promise of more Yugen yet to come. These moments are my muse.
From what I can tell there is no exact English counterpart for this word. I believe it can be compared to being in awe of something or feeling a state on enlightenment. An experience of Yugen is meant to define a moment of true bliss involving a profound sense of beauty. For me, this type of experience evokes a reflective state when I can summon provoking concepts for further study. I liken it also to a song that brings you right back to a moment in time or a smell that snaps you into an altered state. Yugen should be celebrated as a natural high and a unique opportunity to marvel at the rare moments in our lives when we are lucky enough to witness nature’s true unaltered beauty, or just the intricate artistry of life. There are beautiful things all around us, though we don’t see them everyday or even often enough. But when you open your eyes to possibilities of finding more Yugen in your life, then more Yugen will appear. You can’t find something you’re not looking for, and anything in this life that gives rise to feelings of such splendor is worth the endeavor.
Life is short and it is our only true job to enjoy it. Claw to the top of the mountain and know that when you get there you will be able to stand in awe of the Yugen you have found and the Yugen you have created.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” – John Lennon
Photo courtesy of keyseeker on morguefile.com