Shouldn’t We Subtract Now?


We always yearn for something new. We cannot be satisfied with what we currently have, but rather live pursuing something better, something nicer. Possibly because of human instinct to desire and possess more, our civilization has developed rapidly. Material development in every aspect has made our life convenient. As an example, there was once a time where life was convenient enough with a wired telephone. However things changed to a wireless telephone, then to a mobile phone and now to a smartphone. In such a more ‘smart’ generation, are human beings also becoming ‘smarter’?

Over a number of millenniums – from our ancestors to our parents – through the generations, human lifestyle has evolved. However, they have one thing in common: living only with addition. Since we come from our ancestors, wouldn’t we have received their habits of adding more? Although we live in the ever-developing world that might nearly reach its tech peak, we still try to add more so that we can have a better life. Perhaps we have even more difficulties now because we are confined to that drive to add more by any means. It is indeed distressful because it doesn’t seem this would happen in a ‘smarter’ world. But people seem to be more stressed nowadays because of higher expectations and desires.

However, there are some who have already realized that the excessive material development and material possession can’t satisfy us. Thus they try to improve the quality of their life from an intangible aspect. That is, they pursue the spiritual betterment to achieve a better life. Some practice religions, some practice meditations and some read self-help or spirituality books. Freeing themselves from materials to some extent, they aim for freedom and peace of mind; which is a fresh trend of wellbeing, different from the worldly lifestyle of ‘eating well to live well.’ They become more mature through deeper experiences with spiritual development.

Shouldn't We Subtract Now? - Wisdom's WebzineWhat needs to be pointed out here is our mindset. Even for the intangible development, we still have the same mindset of trying to possess more, which is just the habit of living the material life. By encountering religions, meditations and books, we seek to obtain a better life, or something to benefit ourselves. Moreover, we stick to the ‘addition’ habit by putting everything we learn and experience into our mind. What I truly feel sorry about is that we don’t even have an idea that we still haven’t changed. If we just add more to our mind, which can only be regarded as acquisition of knowledge and experiences, our spiritual journey will reach its uppermost limit one day, similar to the limit we have reached in the material world.

We have subtly tasted the life of  ‘addition’. It is a fait accompli that we taste the momentary sweetness when obtaining something but soon after, because of our desire to become better or obtain more, we experience bitterness as we get trapped into that thought that what we have is still not sufficient. Let’s change our way of thinking: now is the time to live the life of ‘subtraction.’ Let’s do the opposite of addition and subtract the life of addition, that mind we have added so far. Like 5 minus 5 give you 0, it is logical that through subtraction, eventually we go back to the origin where nothing exists – the place of ‘0.’

There will be a point where it is impossible to obtain more in our life and because of our unwavering and constant desire for more, we are impossible to satisfy and thus we are always dissatisfied and unhappy.  The solution to this is a new sensation called subtraction. At the place of nothingness, there is only happiness because there is nothing that we lack.