Mitu MindBody Psychotherapy

Registered Psychotherapist

Serving the Greater Toronto Area

The Japanese Art of Finding Perfection in Imperfection

Wabi Sabi

Do you judge yourself harshly sometimes? Do you notice certain imperfection, flaws and limitations that you wish you didn’t have? Consider this for a moment: WABI SABI is the Japanese Art of Seeing Perfection in Imperfection.

According to the Wabi Sabi tradition, a vase that has a crack is considered an even greater art piece and more beautiful. Why? Because it’s so called imperfections are actually part of a deeper truth of nature: everything is in a transient, impermanent and incomplete state. That there is beauty in imperfection, and it is in these 'cracks' that unconditional love and unconditional acceptance can be born.

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism. It acknowledges that nature is ever growing, refining and developing, and therefore never in an ultimate state of perfection. Perfection is as an illusion. Wabi Sabi celebrates the beauty in the imperfection and sees imperfections as nature’s display of its infinite expressions.

Only human beings have created this idea of standards, perfection and rules of beauty. The philosophy of Wabi Sabi understands that all things outside of what humans consider as ‘good’, ‘proper’ and ‘acceptable’, are actually deeply part of and accepted in existence. If life was saying to you ‘no this thing about you is not accepted. The imperfections in you are NOT part of the greater whole called life’, then that part of you would cease to exist. That situation, challenge, or perceived flaw would not have been created if it was not in accordance to and harmony with the plan of nature. The fact is that all of you is here, living and existing, meaning that life is open to you and deeply accepts you in all your expressions.

We need to open our eyes and see that beyond the realm of ‘human ideas and conditionings’ we are indeed deeply accepted for our totality. When you go into a forest or stand under the sky, does it judge you and throw ideas of what and how you should be? No. Is the tree mad and critical towards the irregularities of it's branches? The moon with all its holes, creators, bumps and irregularities, simply exists and is not pressured to become smooth, flat and even, or pushed to perform better. To apply Wabi Sabi means to accept this inherent truth of existence, that we are deeply accepted in our totality.

Our yearning, sadness, anxiety, discontent and judgment all comes down to this: not feeling loved and accepted for who we are in our entirety. When we begin to understand the profound truth of Wabi Sabi, we can then begin to accept ourselves, and the resistance within ourselves and towards life begin to fall away.

There is a difference between when our desire to grow and improve comes from a place of self judgment and feeling 'inherently' flawed, versus coming from a place of understanding our limitations as a part of life's plan, and knowing that who we really are is beyond perceived personality level limitations. Then, as we seek ways to further develop and grow, we can see ourselves like a beautiful child, simply learning a new skill, such as to walk, or throw ball. We see that this child is never flawed or bad for not knowing how to walk or not having that new skill. When we apply the same understanding towards ourselves we stop hating ourselves and no longer generate emotions of un-lovability, feeling not good enough, low-self worth, sadness or anxiety, when we are faced with our shadows.

As we overcome our perceived personal challenges and limitations, it is done in a container of self-love, self-acceptance and self-understanding . We drop the combat with ourselves and with existence. We flow in harmony and are simply taken on a journey, like a river gently guiding a leaf down its course.

With Wabi Sabi we extract the unneccessary bitterness in life, removing self-judgment and self-punishment, and are left with more sweetness, joy, love and celebration of life .

Recommended book:

'Wabi Sabi Love - the art of finding perfect love in imperfect relationships', by Arielle Ford.