What does subtraction really do to us?
Imagine the situation where you receive satisfaction from an external stimulus.
In this chapter, we have used examples such as the number of flowers needed to fill your vision, or the number of words to fill your mind. But of course, we try to satisfy ourselves by relying on a variety of external stimuli such as food, products, services, relationships or money on a daily basis. What will happen if we start subtracting them?
From left to right: what will happen if you reduce the number of flowers, colors or species?
As you subtract element after element, the void starts to emerge in the areas that were previously occupied by external stimuli. As a result, satisfaction from external stimuli starts diminishing, but something else starts happening:
Your internal forces such as senses, including vision, or cognitive abilities awaken and start working hard within the void.
Subtraction creates substantial voids. In ikebana, they emerge between and around the flowers. In haiku, they emerge between words or where the words are absent. Trying to fill those voids, your imagination and creativity reacts swiftly. Your senses and cognitive power are now all mobilized, creating your own beauty that permeates the emptiness. Through the process, you may be unleashing unexplored abilities that you didn’t even know that you had. Subtraction lets the voids emerge, which in turn awakens your internal force. The end result is boundless, profound and long-lasting beauty. You feel deep satisfaction.
Your senses and mind are surprisingly resilient and adaptable. Subtraction functions as a catalyst to unleash your power to its fullest. This is the reason why “less is more.” While “more” external stimuli could make your senses or abilities inert, “less” would sharpen and crystallize your own potential. “More” external stimuli are not equal to more power inside you. It’s quite the opposite – it’s “less” that empowers you and fills you.