Kado: Freedom Through Discipline


Kado translates as ‘The Way of Flowers’, however what we actually study is ‘The Way of Nature’. In Kado we observe nature and its laws, and we integrate these observations into our practice.

Chögyam Trungpa understood that the innate wisdom in human beings can be recognised and cultivated through flower practice because human beings are part of nature, we are not separate. We follow the same patterns as all life on this planet, therefore as Kado students we simultaneously study the human condition as we work with the natural materials of the earth.

The ultimate purpose in Kado is not to make pleasant flower arrangements, but to cultivate an appreciation of each moment, work with obstacles, and develop respect for ourselves, others and all forms of life. As my teacher Marcia Wang Shibata once said “If you see things as they are, you can see what you can do for it. Kado teaches us to receive things as they are. This is the most important teaching, to become an authentic person.”

In Kado, in the early training stages, there is no self-expression. We repeatedly step back from a self-orientated reference by arranging the classical forms again and again. As Marcia’s student I have learned to sit back and observe. I have discovered respect for nature, patience, stillness and to allow space. Naturally my Kado compositions have become more balanced, as I am stepping back to allow nature to come forth.

Denise B drala A1The freedom I once tried to conquer through modern contemporary art I have found through practicing the traditional art form of Kado. This discipline has brought certainty into my compositions and the process of taking a photograph has become effortless.

I experienced this recently when photographing the pristine environment of Australia’s New South Wales national parks. The process of taking photographs has become one of patiently allowing the display of wonder and energy in play to reveal itself. Somehow I am now a vessel that Denise B drala A2innately understands how to choose the subject, the frame, set the aperture, and find the right time to press the release button in order to catch the multiple magical moments of reality being expressed.

Such as the splashing, quirky, flow of water, effortlessly finding its way through the river bed, infused and enriched by the wind, reflections, and the flickering light…


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