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Lions Roar : September 2012
ordinary, imperfect mortals. So why not give ourselves a break? Why not celebrate our blemishes, our imperfections, and dis- satisfactions? After all, doesn’t Venus de Milo look better without her arms? Not being perfect allows us to feel empathy and compassion, not just for ourselves but also, and especially, for oth- ers. We see our own frailties and short- comings in our friends and lovers. Being imperfect joins us in our humanity. That’s a good feeling. We’re all in this impossible, crazy life together, which in large measure will take us where it wants to go. That may cause anxiety to our control needs, but it beats being lonely in a posture of having it all together when everyone around us seems to be less than capable. Every spiritual tradition agrees that in the end we can only bow our heads to the fact of our limitations and to the mystery of existence. Those traditions would echo the words of T. S. Eliot when he said: The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless. Humility brings us down to earth and lets us acknowledge our true condition, which is that we are flawed and were never meant to be otherwise. The perfection fantasy exists to shore up our illusion of having some control over a life that will never, in reality, conform to our plans. However sophisticated our spiritual prac- tices, we shall never get to the bottom of who we are, never uncover all our fault lines and layers of subtle unrest. Like the puzzle of life and death, these are puzzles that will remain as ungraspable and nebu- lous as ever. That is their beauty, and our beauty too: we will always be just beyond our own grasp. In Japan there is an entire worldview that appreciates the value of the imper- fect, unfinished, and faulty. It’s called wabi sabi. The first term refers to something simple and unpretentious, and the second points to the beauty that comes with age. Wabi sabi is the aesthetic view that under- lies Japanese art forms like tea ceremony and ceramics. It’s an aesthetic that sees beauty in the modest and humble, the ShambhalaSunFoundationAnindependent,nonprofitcorporation.PublishersoftheShambhalaSunandBuddhadharma:ThePractitioner’sQuarterly • Subscribe • Renew • Pay an invoice • Give a Gift • • Purchase back issues • Change your address • • Inquire about a subscription • Replace a missing issue • online: easy, Quick, and secure Visit Subscriber Services at www.shambhalasun.com or www.thebuddhadharma.com call toll-free Weekdays, 11:30 am – 8 pm ET: 1-877-786-1950 overseas: 01-760-317-2362 Fax: 1-760-738-4805 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or thebuddhadharma.com mail: PO Box 469095, Escondido, CA 92046–9095 Privacy notice: Subscribers may receive offers from organizations we believe may be of interest to our readers. Contact us if you wish to be excluded from such mailings. SubScriberServiceS SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 24