In Conversation
  • Name
    Leonard Koren
  • Profession
    Writer, Design Philosopher
  • Author of
    Wabi Sabi
  1. Most people think of Wabi-sabi as an aesthetic, but it's also a Buddhist philosophy—what does this entail?

    Wabi-sabi means treading lightly and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling. In other words, wabi-sabi tells us to stop our preoccupation with success and enjoy the unencumbered life. Obviously, leading the simple wabi-sabi life requires some effort and will and also some tough decisions. Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices and let things be.

    Even at the most austere level of material existence, we still live in a world of things. Wabi-sabi is exactly about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get from freedom of things.

  2. What is your earliest memory of ritual?

    Going to sleep at night as a child: I put my head on the pillow and within five seconds I was sound asleep. Every night.

  3. What's the best advice you've ever received?

    Before I got married for the first time I must have looked worried because my stepfather asked me, “Do you love her?” “Yes,” I replied. “Does she let you work?” I thought that was a strange question, but after a moment of reflection, “Yes,” I responded. “Then,” my stepfather intoned, “don’t worry about it.” About the time my first wife and I separated, I reflected on what my stepfather had asked… At the eighteen-year mark, I could hardly work at all.