“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
This quote has been a favorite of mine for somewhere between 30 and 40 years. I liked this message in the context of writing, similar to Samuel Clemens’ quote, “I apologize for such a long letter – I didn’t have time to write a short one” or any number of Clemen’s quotes on economy of words. I’ve seen Saint-Exupery’s quote referred to in the context of engineering. After three or four decades, it hits me like a ton of bricks that this quote applies to life. This is the antidote to the second Noble Truth, the truth of suffering and its cause–attachment. How often do we Buddhist say, “Let it go,”(Many teachers) “Put it down,” (Zen Master Seung Sahn) “No big deal,” (Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche) and so on? How did it not occur to me that Saint-Exupery’s quote spoke to the foundational Buddhist teaching of letting go of our attachments. When I had this epiphany, I laughed and laughed. I am a bit slow.
“How much ‘ego’ do you need? Just enough so that you don’t step in front of a bus.”