Silence as a Spark for Change

Could national crisis be the touchstones from which an individual rises up and renews herself body, mind, and spirit?  Could an individual’s revitalization, setbacks, and determination to overcome obstacles inspire others to embark on their own journey of renewal?


What would give birth to this courageous new individual and national spirit?  I believe that individual acts of silence will serve as the first sparks.

Re-inventing Ourselves Silently

Japan has long had a tradition where beauty and silence are important.  People for many years have consciously and unconsciously learned the wisdom of silence and formal meditation and applied it to the tea ceremony, to Zen, to Ikebana, to the martial arts, to Noh and shodo, to the way they sit, stand and walk and even to the smallest of tasks.

For these reasons Beyond Our Best originated in Japan but it is in no way a movement that is limited to one nation or people.  Today, we are all called to collectively innovate drawing on our strengths and pushing beyond individual and collective boundaries.  Naturally each country has its own strength, its own wisdom and will find its own path.

This transformation may not look like what is occurring elsewhere in the world nor be marked by public demonstrations: it just may be a silent spring that starts by small individual acts of intuition.

For this philosophy in face of natural and man-made crisis to take hold, we have to go beyond words (words alone tend to put the Japanese asleep).  That is one good reason why we work with talented Japanese artists who can turn this new philosophy or curve of going beyond our best into a shared collective experience.

What does the curve Beyond Our Best mean for Japanese Shodo?  Architecture?  Music?  Nihon-Buyo?  Sumie?  Noh?  Dance?

The Arts Leads Beyond Our Best

Although Dr.Paul Briot, the Belgian philosopher, who drew the curve Beyond Our Best knew Nathalie Ishizuka’s background was in law & diplomacy, business and a psychology of health and the mind at its best, he did not ask Nathalie to start her journey to Japan with politicians, diplomats, policy makers or CEOs.  He asked her to start with talented Japanese artists.

Dr. Briot told Nathalie that talented artists had the intuition and experience to understand the curve inutitively and given Japan’s history of silence in its great arts, Japan could be the first nation to uplift without words.

Nathalie spent three years full time looking for talented artists and a way to begin.   On the third year she found the shodo artist Saiso Shimada.

Shimada’s painting stlye was unique; her focus was on breath, energy, joy and spirit.  Although Nathalie had found a few talented artists up to the challenge, shodo, unlike architecture, could be realized without without financing a new building or organizing a dance performance in the traditional arts.  Shimada’s openess to the challenge, her willingness to experiment and her many years of Zen and Qigong meditation allowed Shimada to grapple with the challenge.   Below is one example of Saiso Shimada interpreting Dr. Paul Briot’s works on elevated art that can transform.

We believe that by allowing the Japanese to see such works will inspire other talented artists in their respective domains to do the same.

— Will the new Shodo works of Saiso Shimada lift her audience by creating a moment of silence within?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaoY-B4YtjU?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

Faces of the Sun : Uplifting Japan with a New Spirit with Shodo

— Will an audience experience such a vibration in the new shaku-hatchi works of Nakamura Masamichi and other talented musicians?

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLL0FAM_FP0?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent]

Shakuhachi Masaki Nakamura Creating Sound that Emanates

A Question to Talented Artists & Creators:

What Does Beyond Our Best Mean in Your Field?

–Will readers experience such a curve in a novel by Kenzaburo Oe, Haruki Murakami or other talented writers who can capture Japan’s new spirit and move the Japanese from within?

–Can the music of great composers such as Toshio Hosokawa or Ryuichi Sakamoto inspire and move both individuals and a country to new heights of compassion?

Toshio Hosokawa

Ryuichi Sakamoto

–Will Seiji Ozawa conduct us to explore a new musical landscape that vibrates from within?

–Will both small and large projects by talented architects such as Toyo Ito or Shigeru Ban inspire a new way of living together?

–Will Hayao Miyazaki’s animation incorporate a sense of space that liberates us and makes “our souls want to greet the wind, the clouds, and the beautiful earth?”

We believe if Japanese artists begin to create great works of art that man has never before experienced, citizens will begin to realize something important in Japan is happening…

We will then not only be able to visualize this curve but experience or live it as a collective force.  Through both small and large acts of knowledge, compassion, liberation and realization by talented Japanese artists, leaders and citizens, Japan could undergo a national transformation.

We call for artists to create an art that uplifts in the fields of architecture, manga, literature, poetry, sculpture, music, painting, photography, film making, animation, theatre, choreography, nihon buyo, kabuki, martial and other traditional arts where silence, intuition and meditation have always played an important role.

By helping artists, creators and innovators enjoy the process of their own creation and build on their strengths, we create far more change than on our own.

Our question to artists, creators, innovators and meditators is:  “What is it in your project that inspires greater knowledge or compassion?  Can we assist you in such seeking?”

Our philosophy is not to engage in our “own projects” but rather to assist, aid, facilitate, link and broaden existing projects of meditators, creators, artists and innovators that inspire knowledge, compassion, liberation or realization.  We build on the existing strengths of individuals with the resources that exist at any given moment.

We do nothing on our own. Nothing is “ours.”

How individual artists and societies collectively chose to respond to crisis and emerge beyond a previous understanding can and should be explored together.