I very much enjoyed this blog post by Damon Young, on bonsai and zen.
The finest bonsai have many, if not all, of these virtues. Instead of trying to represent every tree in a forest in their intricacy and detail, they suggest the landscape: the vital, ideal form, with a little moss, a single rock. Instead of being perfectly symmetrical, the best bonsai are balanced, but irregular: a harmony of differing angles, masses, shapes. They are not allowed to become overgrown or messy – they require constant pruning and training to acquire their evocative simplicity. And, while they’re kept alive, they give the impression of age: trees subject to the wearying flow of the decades, and to the cycle of the seasons.
The bonsai can be a craft, an artwork, and a meditation aid. It offers a brief chance to let go of anguish, false hope, and all the leaden accoutrements of the psyche. And it fits on the porch.