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A Mountain does not move

A Mountain does not move

Recognising the three steps to bonsai





The mountain - resting in itself, no movement. Unlike the tree - bonsai, movement, completing the destination. Unlike man - wavering to and fro in his search like a willow branch, not knowing his destination. Holding on to short-lived things. The knowledge that my own life is ephemeral helps me recognise the three steps to bonsai. These steps are fluent and not always clearly to be seen or defined. Thousands of reasons, hopes, wishes and longing have led one or another bonsai enthusiast to his hobby. I want to address the person for whom bonsai has become more than a spare time hobby, and those who have experienced all ups and especially the downs (and still do). Those who have been infected by the bonsai virus.


First step: the first step to bonsai is big (not high), easy to climb for everybody. From this step one can jump off again at any time. If I should try to establish an order, a system at this point, I would succeed on this level.

Trying a definition: Getting to know bonsai, becoming active, self-taught learning of  traditional bonsai knowledge (shaping, care and maintenance) from literature, workshops etc. 


The transition to the next step is fluent. Without permanent effort it cannot be reached.  It is hard to define, to make clear what this step is about.  

Trying a definition: permanent further study, more intensive occupation with bonsai, with model trees, with nature. A flare-up, a first understanding of interrelations. Recognising that bonsai is more than decoration, presentation, prestigious possession etc. On this step you hear a muted humming, singsong, like the song of the earth. The highest point of this step will free the spirit, like the view from a mountain. I will be enabled to make the first step to independent acting. This step awakes the artistic spirit inside of us. For creating a bonsai this means not thinking and acting in a certain pattern, but recognising the spirit of a tree and completing it with virtuosity according to its nature.





The transition to the last step is fluent. Reaching this step is only granted to few people. It needs the effort of a whole life, without interruption. If the second step was hard to define, this one is beyond interpretation. Inevitably there will be misunderstanding, even rejection, if you tried it with words or letters.

Nevertheless I'll try to list a few words for this level according to their order and importance.


A try: letting go, bonsai creation without bonsai, inner creation, inner garden, going on, going further...???


A man, searching 


A tree, destination


A mountain does not move








Peter Krebs


Trees and pots from my collection in 1992


Photographs by Helmut Rüger 


Translation by Heike van Gunst

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