Wabi-sabi is a Japanese term that is sometimes difficult to understand; but its logical ambiguity is part of its meaning, and it has a lot to do with imperfection. Everything in human life is passing, temporary in nature and is imperfect. In reality nothing is perfect. Many scientific realities are subjective and do not have measurements to weigh their perfection. People, who are driven to their pursuit of perfection, are always disturbed because their desire to be perfect traps and burdens them. People around them also get bogged down because perfection itself is skewed. Perfection seekers suffer with stress, often creating mess in their relationships.
Anything created with the creative mind with purpose or meaning behind it, is perfect for the person who makes it – as it is. Other may find some flaws in it. But, for the person who creates something stops when his gut tells him to stop. He feels satisfied and not necessarily, it should appear perfect to others. Aesthetic beauty is modest and humble. For example, the Mona Lisa, arguably the world’s most famous painting, may be a masterwork, perhaps is not flawless, yet it is considered incomparable. The background of the painting is dull. There were many other portraits from the same period which showed equally enigmatic expressions. The undue focus on this painting, along with the popularity of a few other pieces, prevents most people not only from seeing the painting for what it really is. It seems the creator of the Mona Lisa, Leonardo DaVinci, did not regard the painting as his finest work.
It is famous in the history that a pianist Daniel Steibelt challenged Beethoven about technical flaws in some of his in masterpiece compositions. They even had improvisation contest in Vienna. Steibelt lost the contest with Beethoven…..but, there are references that Steibelt was also a prolific composer. Any invention, any creation, any art, any strategy cannot be challenged for its flawlessness. There will be critics who will find some or other defects in it. Each individual has different aesthetic perception. In traditional Japanese aesthetic mindset they believe in accepting imperfection and that is termed as wabi-sabi.
The term is made up of two words. The first, wabi, signifies that anything which appears beautiful is not free from flaws and absurdity; wabi is explained with kintsugi which is an example of repairing bronze statues, ceramics, carvings of heritage structures with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original. The second word, sabi, refers to beauty which comes with maturity, such as the ancient art, structures look more beautiful because of the changes that take place in them slowly. They become symbol of a philosophy, culture and history. Even people look more attractive with experience of life and gained wisdom.
Wabi-sabi is Japanes philosophy that nothing is permanent, nothing is flawless, and nothing is perfect. Therefore each experience, each creation has its own beauty. After all, beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. What look beautiful to my eyes might look not so good to somebody else’s eyes. The term wabi-sabi suggests that life itself is filled with qualities such as impermanence, modesty, indiscretion, and imperfection.
Practicing wabi-sabi into your life does not involve money, qualification, reputation, status, training, or special skills. All it takes is a quiet mind to appreciate beauty; willingness to accept things as they are. It requires an ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting something. We always expect others to be perfect whereas we forget to look at our own flaws. Nothing is perfect in the world except the word “Perfect.” Each one has his/her uniqueness; the Universal Energy purposefully did not create a flaw-less world. There is no right and no wrong. Accept wabi-sabi as your state of mind to lead a hassle free life.