The concept of 守破離 (shu-ha-ri) has been applied to pursuits of all kinds over the years, including the tea ceremony, noh drama, and various martial and visual arts.

It describes three stages of development in a creative person: 守 (shu) means keeping or adhering to the form and rules of an art by following a teacher without question. 破 (ha) is the point of digression, a willful veering away from the tradition with the intent to explore. Finally, 離 (ri) refers to a transcendent state, achieved through long practice and focus, where the act of creating happens naturally and work of the highest order stems from the deepest roots of the artist’s being.

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