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Ten Virtues of Bonsai
Pai Lo-Tien, 772-846

Pai Lo-Tien, a Chinese poet, wrote the Ten Virtues of Bonsai approximately 1200 years ago. To give you a point of time reference, The Ten Virtues of Bonsai were written 700 years before Columbus traveled to America and 1000 years before our own Declaration of Independence.  Pai was a great lover of stones, dwarf trees, and their arrangement with green moss. The ten virtues derive from the rules that governed the community of Buddhist monks.   Without the virtues as guidelines, Zen monks along with Pai felt that bonsai would be reduced to a mere hobby “made to fit the needs of the ego”.

1. Bonsai cultivates one’s mind and improves one’s appearance. The bonsai practitioner cultivates trees which he selected from among a variety of trees. If he pursues beauty only, he may feel empty inside, become aware of his own ugliness, or wonder if he should have selected unsophisticated, simple trees.

2. Bonsai purifies one’s soul and keeps one from impurity. Bonsai is a reflection of his mind. The joy of cultivating bonsai brings serenity to his mind. Visiting an exhibition of other’s bonsai will stimulate him to examine himself: the bonsai will purify his soul and uplift his spirit.

3. A practitioner of bonsai does not sin. If someone were to steal a bonsai, he would surely sell it soon, for rare is the person shameless enough to be able to enjoy daily viewing a stolen bonsai.

4. Bonsai relax the eyes and enable one to do without sleep. Ophthalmologists in the feudal age observed that plants--especially green ones-relax the eyes, and their observation is supported by modern ophthalmologists.

5. Bonsai herald the arrival of spring or autumn. A bonsai of a blossoming apricot tree, representing spring, alleviates the cold of midwinter, and a bonsai of a scarlet-leafed maple represents autumn.

6. Bonsai alleviate the heat of summer. A miniature landscape created on a tray--in which trees with fresh leaves stand along a limpid stream—alleviates the heat of summer.  Graphic representation of the four seasons is one of the charms of bonsai.

7. Bonsai live long. A cut flower lives but several days. A bonsai, on the other hand, lives long because it has roots. Some bonsai have survived hundreds of years owing to good care.

8. Bonsai offer scenic beauty. The greatest charm of bonsai: the pleasure of appreciating natural beauty in a landscape created n a tray with plants, stone, and sand.  Bonsai can represent, for example, a forest of tall trees, steep mountains, and expanse of field at the foot of a mountain, or a cliff above a choppy sea. Such landscapes can substitute for a sightseeing trip.

9. Bonsai afford the pleasure of viewing a rocky cavern.

10. Bonsai afford the pleasure of viewing seaside scenery.

“Bonsai Man and His Wife”
 by Nanci Strickland,
Former Club President 

Written to honor Bud Stout in appreciation for five years of service to The Villages Bonsai Club

Bonsai Man sits and ponders
Thinking to himself,
“Should I trim that limb
or sit the tree on the shelf?”

Looking, feeling with his fingers,
The tree’s various options,
Bonsai Man sighs and ponders
While sipping a cup of tea.

Suddenly, it occurs to him,
“A tilting of the tree might do.”
As he leans it one way then the other,
Twisting, turning, around and around,
Settling on a new position,
The limb needs no cut at all,
Just a new pot and repotting.

Jumping up in glee,
Bonsai Man turns to see
His lovely wife in full agreement,
While sipping on her tea.

Off to the garage they march
Bonsai Man and his wife,
For you see,
The two of then so appreciate
The Beauty of the Tree.

The Bonsai Librarian
Ode to Betty Rogers for 5 years of dedicated service to
The Villages Bonsai Club
by Nanci Strickland,
Former Club President

Bonsai Betty, caring and sharing,
Patiently waiting, urging members
“Stop by, check out an item or two”
Located in the library at her fingertips.
Oh, the information she does impart
From her brain and with such heart.
Alas, for the Bonsai Librarian
Just a few small “blips”
Of members not returning items
To her fingertips.
But, throughout the many years
Nothing is amiss,
Thanks to the energetic little lady
Watching over items loaned to all of us.