In traditional Japanese pottery-making, it describes a serendipitous accident, a mistake in the firing process, that results in an interesting imperfection. Although we might see it as warped or discolored, such a pot is prized among collectors as something unique and oddly beautiful. The trick is ascertaining which pots are “yohen”-and which are mistakes destined to be thrown away.
This concept might be applied to marriage. When after all, is marriage beautifully imperfect and when is it merely defunct? Perhaps when it no longer gives birth to something beautiful. A good marriage is hard work, glorious at times and full of fun….and tears.
And what about the growth and maturation of the individual? We are often like the pots I described, in and out of a “firing process”…wondering if we can survive. Carl Jung describes it thus: “Then from the depths below, fire penetrates the seed and makes it grow, causing a great golden flower to unfold from the germinal vesicle…darkness gives birth to light; out of the ‘lead of the water region’ grows noble gold; what is unconscious becomes conscious in the form of a living process of growth. In this way, the union of consciousness and life takes place” (Alchemical Studies (CW 13, para34&35). This is imminately hopeful and a direct challenge to stay connected to the “depths below. This process keeps us in the fires of transformation, moving us towards a state of wholeness, not perfection. The outcome will be someone “unique and oddly beautiful”…yohen.
Ring the bells that you can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
Its how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen)