Today is Wednesday and that means my wise friend and mentor, The Dharma frog, was here before sunup with my weekly lesson on living a better and more fulfilled life. Today's lesson was on a topic that everyone is in short supply of during the holidays. This includes humans as well as we frogs. As we sat down to morning meal, Dharma started off my lesson with these words, "Tadpole, a frog who masters patience, masters everything." There are many ways of saying this but they all amount to the same thing; Patience is a virtue and one that is seriously overlooked this time of year. In our hustle and bustle society, we all want immediacy. Everything is wanted the minute we want it. But, as Dharma tells it, "Patience is the understanding that this is a long journey and you can't rush the process." Learning and practicing patience is something we can all benefit from doing. And one of the best ways to learn about patience is through traditional Japanese culture.
Dharma tells me that there has been a recent spike in interest in ancient wisdom and practices that originated in Japan, one of the ancestral homes of Zen Buddhism. And Dharma couldn't be more thrilled. It is, after, job security for the old frog. Some of these practices, when incorporated into our own daily life can help us exercise patience which, in turn, can restore our connection to the "fleeting nature of life."
Wabi-Sabi. This weird little term helps us to embrace the perfectly imperfect. "Accepting and embracing transience and imperfection is key to wabi-sabi. Often we see this view applied to aesthetics, and one that can be found in some Japanese pottery, particularly the cups used in the Japanese tea ceremony," They take the object as it is with its age, its cracks, it's rot. In this case tea cups that aren't perfect and new. Wabi-Sabi is about accepting things as beautiful, no matter the condition. it is also an important reminder that nothing lasts forever; this includes our bodies, as well. They are transient, as are all materials. translated into English, Wabi means loneliness (internal) and Sabi means withered, rustic (externally). Therefore, Wabi-sabi is to appreciate the beauty in imperfections. per Dharma, "My boy, everything is transformable, impermanent, getting old and never lasts forever." So how does wabi-sabi fit into patience? it takes patience to learn to accept things as they are; maybe it's your crooked smile, or one arm that is slightly longer than the other. maybe you have no arm at all. In wabi-sabi, these perceived imperfections, ie flaws, are beautiful. They make us who we are. learning to see yourself from that paradigm can take patience. Lots and lots of patience.
Kintsugi. This means, "Fill your cracks with gold. Your scars are beautiful." Kintsugi is closely ties to wabi-sabi. This is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold, thus creating a new piece of art that is even stronger while still embracing the flaws and imperfections. Kintsugi means golden joinery. It can apply not only to broken dishes, but to any healing process or imperfections in our bodies; spiritual, emotional, or physical. This concept is so important to take to heart, says the wise Dharma, especially when looking at our own bodies. We have scars and wounds...cracks...that are not necessarily seen as beautiful by the mainstream media and society. "But," reminds Dharma. "if we can learn to fill those cracks with the gold of self-love, we can learn to celebrate ourselves in totality...not just those parts that are seen as beautiful by others. We can learn to become more than just our flaws." The practice of kintsugi cultivates patience because it defies our reliance on quick fixes and instant gratification. "Embrace the patience required for the healing process in any cracked or broken body part, community part or physical object. The pot gets filled in with gold and is then more valuable. Be patient with all the places you are cracked and find the material that will fill it. That message of patience and healing is one that we really need right now as individuals. Kintsugi can also be applied to our country and our planet."
This is one of Dharma's longest and most important lessons. So much so that I've decided to split it into two parts. This allows the reader to have time to digest these important lessons. I hope you'll join me back here tomorrow when Dharma's lesson on patience will continue. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at Shankhanan, the beauty of taking your time, as well as Ikigai...finding your true purpose beyond your career. Then Dharma will show us how to tie these all together; his holiday gift to us all.