Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Addition and Subtraction


(Image from pixabay.com)

These are basic skills, are they not? Yet, are we sure we are good at it? Do we accord both the right emphasis?

Well, I must admit that the title is misleading as it is metaphorical, but clarity will come as you read on. Success, as we see it, is largely a matter of (quantum of) addition – adding to the bank balance, adding skills, adding more friends (on social media and in real-life), adding to places travelled, adding business contacts, adding to gadgets owned, adding property, and so many other things. In fact it is addition which preys on our mind all the mind. Success in the world view is all about addition! In fact our self esteem depends totally on our ability to add! Happiness in the view of many is addition at a steady and never ending pace.

There are rare cases when subtraction surfaces in our thoughts, but gains priority only if it threatens to take away something from us. A case in point is weight – there are many who take up weight reduction once it is clear that it could impact health or self esteem. Weight, as in turns out is not the only thing we need to think of subtracting. Subtraction lends balance and true purpose to our lives.

Subtracting a little of our bank balance for charity helps others and provides great satisfaction. Subtracting from our pride helps us understand others. Subtracting our stereotypes and biases helps us see the world as it is, instead of our warped view of it. Subtracting our sense of uniqueness allows us to see the essential oneness of everything in the universe. Subtracting meaningless effort allows time for reflection and creativity.

If we subtract the past pains and future fears from our thoughts, we are in the “now” - truly living the present moment. There are a number of other things we need to work on subtracting as well – stereotypes, biases, overindulgence, false sense of identity, overconfidence, pleasure seeking frenzy, and others.

Enlightenment is a demolition project. It simply shows you that everything you ever believed was true isn’t.
- Adyashanti
“If the past was the age of adding to one's mind, now is the age of subtracting what is in his mind. A person who subtracts his minds in this time will recover his original nature.”
― Woo Myung,

You have probably been asking yourself every day “What did I add today?”. Don't you think you should also be asking “What did I subtract today?”.

22 comments:

  1. Indeed a different perspective it is !

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  2. Nice article. Indeed, a good question to ask oneself daily - What did I subtract today?

    Regards,
    Roshni Kanchan

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  3. Nice article Bharath! Lot of food for thought. It in also interesting how addition and subtraction also have "positive" and "negative" connotations in the way they are represented and talked about in our societies. Another perspective to this is that when we add something we are clearly focused on "self" and it often means we are "subtracting" from something else and comes at the cost of maybe greater global good.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and the added and also interesting perspective Lavanya!

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  4. Subtraction eventually leads to addition elsewhere :) I subtract from my back balance for charity and that gets added up elsewhere for some entity doing good work.

    This amounts to redistribution (of wealth, happiness etc). This also amounts to more equality (of wealth, happiness etc.)

    Another relevant example would be climate change agreement in Paris where member countries play with math (addition and subtraction) to eventually (hopefully) achieve greater good

    All through history though, there are numerous examples where these ideas aren't entertained.

    Its all ways a tug of war- and all ways "Addition and Subtraction" :)

    Good article!

    Regards,
    Narayan

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    1. Good points Narayan. It is certainly a balance which is needed.....

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  5. The fact that we are ready for change and change itself is acting upon us is a good thing.. We have taken those first steps and be willing to add or subtract..

    Wonderful article as always Bharath :)

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    1. Thanks for your comment and perspective SKB..

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  6. Way to restore the conditioned mind to it's original state, well explained with simple practical way of achieving it. Nice article.

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    1. True..conditioning is difficult to work away from..thanks for your comment!

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  7. Nice thoughts. Would you say that staying away from the rat race to add more is substraction enough...

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    1. I suppose that is true...it does take a while to realise that the rat race is not what we should live for, isn't it?

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  8. Added a good read today to my mind. Subtracted the the other thoughts while doing so.
    Imo it is subtraction that leads to addition as in the progression of a soul is based on how less a baggage one carries. Thank you . Lavanya Raghuraman

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  9. Thanks for your comment, Lavanya. I believe subtraction is critical to our progression too.....

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  10. Really thought provoking indeed. You have explained it beautifully in such simple language

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  11. Thanks for your comment Souvagya.

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