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THE JAPANESE PHILOSOPHY OF WABI-SABI

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Life isn’t perfect, but we all know it’s how you react to things that counts.
Wabi-sabi is considered a beloved form of art — the art of imperfection — and it’s not only found within objects, but within us.

The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what’s natural, flaws and all. Imperfection is the basic principle of Wabi-Sabi, the Japanese philosophy of accepting your imperfections and making the most of life. It is about the aesthetic of things in existence, that are “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”. Wabi-sabi is also deeply influenced by the teaching of the Buddha and its school of thought can be interlinked with Buddhist thinking. It is essentially a concept or ideology that comes from the ‘Buddhist teaching’ of the three marks of existence that are namely “impermanence” (mujō), suffering (ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (kū)”

“Wabi” expresses the part of “rustic simplicity” or “impermanence, flaws, imperfection.” or “understated elegance” with a focus on a less-is-more mentality.
“Sabi” is translated to “means the beauty of age and wear.”

Wabi-sabi embraces the idea of aesthetic appreciation of aging, flaws, and the beauty of the effects of time and imperfections. The two separate parts when put together, complete each other.

In “The Unknown Craftsman,” Japanese art critic Soetsu Yanagi writes, “We in our own human imperfections are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite.”

Perfectionism is becoming more unachievable with each passing day and it distorts the idea of natural beauty and accepting the flaws of existence, however, on the contrary, the Japanese belief and concept of wabi-sabi embraces just that and allows people to be more accepting and open to embracing the beauty of flaws and rawness.
A wabi sabi approach to life isn’t about giving way to carelessness or seeing a junk pile through rose-colored glasses. It’s about appreciating, showcasing, and sustaining the beauty of what’s natural.

You won’t find wabi sabi in Botox, glass-and-steel skyscrapers,or the drive for relentless self-improvement. It’s a beauty hidden right in front of our eyes, an aesthetic of simplicity that reveals itself only when animated through the daily work of living.

Nothing about nature is linear or symmetrical or impervious to decay. And yet what could be more mesmerizing?
The concept of wabi-sabi, is wide and almost impossible to distill in a single post, but can easily be applied simply to moments of everyday life.
The relentless pursuit of perfection — in possessions, relationships, achievements — often leads to stress, anxiety, depression and hasty judgement.
This is where wabi-sabi invites a pause.
The Japanese philosophy encourages us to focus on the blessings hiding in our daily lives, and celebrating the way things are rather than how they should be.

I find the idea of deserting “perfect” and even “good enough” irresistibly tempting. Life— scars, height, and laugh lines—is itself perfectly imperfect, and I can embrace the beauty in that.

A great example of wabi-sabi in creativity is the art of kintsugi, where cracked pottery is filled with gold dusted lacquer as a way to showcase the beauty of its age and damage rather than hiding it.
The fault is not hidden but highlighted.

This is not to say the Craftsman was sloppy (wabi-sabi isn’t an excuse for poor craftsmanship). Wabi-sabi draws attention to the cracks in a tea cup as part of the beauty of the object.
“Wabi sabi is a different kind of looking, a different kind of mindset,” explains Robyn Griggs Lawrence, author of Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House . “It’s the true acceptance of finding beauty in things as they are,” he states.

By its very nature, the philosophy of wabi sabi can’t be packaged into foolproof tips, but its spirit can simplify every aspect of the way we live.

Go outside

We can learn a lot from nature and the changing seasons. Go for a walk or a drive and give yourself time to think. Observe the “imperfections” as you go — ripples in the water or the jagged edges of a rock. You’ll soon see that imperfections are the secret to nature’s beauty.

Simplicity.

You probably already have everything you need. When we ask for less, use less, buy less, we can open our hearts to more important things: humility, character and grace. This applies to material things as much as it does to people. Let go of people who don’t support you. Stay close to those who do.
A wabi sabi relationship is one in which you deliberately accept each other where you are—imperfect, unfinished, and mortal. If you have people that constantly bring you down then keep your distance.

Stop comparing yourself to others.

It’s something we all do. But make an effort to do this instead: Trade comparison for celebration. Celebrate other people’s wins while you do you. Appreciation for imperfections in others, and even in yourself, is the essential wabi sabi frame of mind.

Practice self-love.

Treat yourself well, whether that means getting an ice-cream sunday or taking a day to get a massage and relax. Let up a little, and don’t be so hard on yourself. I have features I didn’t always love, but I’ve learned to appreciate them, because they make me who I am. We’re beautiful because we’re unique.

Our stories lie in our imperfections: the scar we got from doing a sport we love, the chipped nails after a day spent in our beloved garden.

Wab-sabi also encourages letting go of the past. In striving for perfection, we’re often striving for what we once had, or deemed to be better. Yearning for youth and how we once looked is a good example of this.

Wabi-sabi and particularly, Kintsugi, place emphasis on where you are on your journey. A beautiful new bowl which becomes cracked and repaired with gold isn’t damaged, instead it becomes so much more than what it was before. That being said, it can never go back to what it originally was. It’s about being at peace with change and decay and seeing these as progression, learning from the cycle of nature and the seasons. As a result, wabi-sabi encourages mindfulness and an engaged relationship with the present.

True beauty, in a wabi sabi sense, is about taking care of yourself, not turning your face into a blank canvas. If we stop spending the time to spackle over every freckle or cover up every gray hair, we can be more fully engaged with the world—which gives us real charisma.

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