The following definition handily provided to me by Wikipedia begins to scratch the surface of what it means to be shibui or a person of shibusa.
The person of shibusa modestly exalts excellence via a thoroughness of taking time to learn,watch, read,understand, develop, think and merges understatement and silence concerning oneself. The shibusa sanctuary of silence, non dualism-the resolution of opposites is intuition coupled with beauty and faith as foundations for phases of truth revealing the worship and reverence for life.
The following excerpt is from Shibumi by Trevanian. Published by Ballantine books, New York.
"Shibumi is understanding, rather than knowledge. Eloquent silence. In demeanor, it is modesty without prudency. In art, where the spirit of shibumi takes the form of sabi, it is elegant simplicity, articulate brevity. In philosophy, where shibumi emerges as wabi, it is spiritual tranquility that is not passive; it is being without the angst of becoming. And in the personality of a man, it is...how does one say it? Authority without domination? Something like that."
The closest definition we can get to a translation of the term is effortless perfection. This is not so much a definition, but more of a desired state of being.
Like all those qualities that defy easy translation( as I discovered with Shibumi) the word Shibumi eludes definition. Those externals which soothe and make the spirit content are considered shibumi to the Japanese. It is on a deeper level, instinctual, not easily conveyed. It reaffirms the traditional appreciation of serenity,introspection, modesty,formality,nobility,generosity and reserve. It is the polar opposite of everything that is garish, loud, noisy or commercial hype.
In essence shibumi is a state we aspire towards. Effortless perfection, simple complexity, understated elegance. It permeates the art we practice and is available to all those who would travel through knowledge to arrive at simplicity.
strong spirit-strong mind-strong body