The Wandering Monk

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Eastern Philosophy: Kintsugi

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This week, I’d like to talk about Kintsugi, also called Kintsukuroi, again accompanied by a video from The School of Life YouTube channel.

Special thanks to this channel for making such impacting videos that are easy to watch.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken pottery back together with exotic mixtures, such as with adhesive with flecks of gold or jade.  It’s the philosophical ideal that expresses the truest nature of Zen and the Dao, in that it helps us find the beauty in things that are simple, eloquent.  It expresses the fundamental concept that we are all imperfect, impermanent, and flawed, yet these are not faults or failures, but points that make us human.  Details that give us our uniqueness and our personality.

I recall the emotions I feel when I see someone who is, by the standards of their peers, “perfect”.  Perhaps it’s a very beautiful woman, or that guy with the great personality that you just go “Wow, that <person> is just perfect, aren’t they?”

Well, what do we mean exactly?  We don’t mean without flaw, do we? We can’t honestly think they have no flaws.  Perhaps it is our perception of the number of flaws they have or mistakes they make compared to the ratio of non-flawed, non-mistake actions they make.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “But I don’t consider those people perfect.. my idea of it is bigger than that.”

Good, it should be. 

I think that if we analyze it long enough, we come to the conclusion that ‘perfect’ isn’t really the word we mean.  Perhaps.. ‘complete’ is the word.

I have a friend, Pam, who is a curious creature.  She is always in deep thought, always analyzing the tires even as they spin while she’s driving down the road.  I tell her sometimes that she gets wrapped around the axle a bit.  It’s her attention to detail that I think does this.

She can over-analyze many things, go down rabbit holes, and make snap judgement.  She stumbles, and falls, and makes mistakes about as often as she doesn’t.  And to me, if she was anything else, she would be less perfect than she is.

This, I think, is because perfection comes not from the absence of flaws, but from the ownership of one’s self as a whole.  Through the ownership of each part of herself; from the perceived good, the perceived bad, she is whole and complete.

What this truly means is that we are all perfect if only we accept who we really are at this moment.  Not refute the person we used to be as ‘inferior’ or ‘lower quality’, and not demanding who we may become as ‘better’ or ‘superior’ to our present selves.  But by embracing ourselves, here, now, in this moment, worts and all, as being whole and complete and perfect just how we are.

If you can pick up this ideal and truly own it then you are perfect.  If you can’t, then you’re still perfect, you just haven’t realized it yet.  And if something happens that breaks you, or makes you change your shape or purpose, then glue yourself back together with flecks of gold and embrace your inner-Kintsugi, and know that you are a timeless and perfect creature beholden and embodied with ideals that have stood four thousands of years.

Know that you are every bit as amazing and as wonderful as you should be and all that’s holding you back is your belief.


Featured Image by Whatever4Ever16:

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