Essay and Answer Writing

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” [2020]

The famous Renaissance artist and theorist Leonardo da Vinci famously said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, and nothing can be more accurate than that. Simplicity makes things easy, effortless and uncomplicated, and that makes it more appealing. Most of us think that to seem sophisticated, one must indulge in things and luxuries that are complex and require one’s undivided attention. The reality is that we always fall for simplicity, not just because it is ‘easy’ but because it is elegant. 
 
Simplicity is the state or quality of being simple. Something easy to understand or explain seems simple, in contrast to something complicated. On the other hand, sophistication is common as a measure of refinement - displaying good taste, wisdom and subtlety rather than crudeness, stupidity, and vulgarity. Quite clearly, both the terms denote a commonality – to find comfort in being uncomplicated. 
 
A well known story from the teachings of the Buddha is of Siddhartha saving a bird injured by an arrow by his cousin and then both staking a claim over the bird and the judge asking the bird to choose his master. The underlying philosophy is simple – a living being will always choose his saviour over his predator and the lesson it imparts is of kindness and compassion.
 
As humans, we often tend to complicate the reality around us. We ignore the simple joys of life and instead focus all our energy on achieving the far fetched goals. We assume that sophistication equals results, brilliance, performance, and intelligence. However, more information, more choices, and more products are not always better. Sometimes, when things are presented to us in a complicated way, we may feel disengaged and disinterested in the material. Perhaps, it is for this reason that the best teachers are not those who know the most complex concepts but those who simplify them for the benefit of others. 
Simplicity works in every aspect of life, right from style to a person’s temperament. In an age ruled by hype and glitter, a simply dressed man or woman with a touch of taste determine sartorial elegance rather than those overdressed in expensive clothes. Similarly, simplicity of manner is an example of sophistication where you treat everyone with an even hand. Reserving all niceness for those who matter and treating others dismissively is not sophistication. The list of examples can go on! Even in the case of art and architecture, excessive designing can often seem like clutter while the simplicity of the effect is uplifting. The architecture should be seen as neat and functional. Elegance is achieved when the superfluous is discarded. 
 
Many researchers from different fields have carried out experiments in this regard. In the book Paradox of Choice, Schwatz  did a study that showed that consumers would often become paralysed when presented with many choices. Simplicity lies in remaining thoroughly unpretentious and certainty, coherence and intelligibility are embodied in it. simplicity can be equated with the crystal clarity of water to understand what transparency and purity it holds. 
 
Sophistication is about the capability of making fine distinctions when something is so precise that its relative analysis becomes a significant challenge. Psychologically sophisticated people are curious about their own minds and how they work. They routinely think about their thoughts and thinking patterns. Sophisticated people can be compassionate with themselves when they fail or make mistakes rather than beating themselves up. They can also take responsibility for the things that are under their control - their actions.
Paradoxically, in today’s day and age, many believe that a show of ownership, wealth and success is the way forward. We live in a complex world, replete with computers, phones and machines, which are all supposed to simplify our lives. As humans, we gravitate towards complexity. The sunset sky with multiple colors appears more stunning than a simpler, monochromatic blue sky. We hear that beauty is found in simplicity, but what does it mean to be simple? Simplicity is not merely the opposite of complexity. Many things in nature are complex but it doesn’t mean that we discard it altogether. So when we describe the opposite of simplicity, we mean anything that is unnecessary or additional, created by human desire. 
 
“All that glitters is not gold” - Materialism complicates something to its worse, but on the other hand simplicity makes it the opposite of what materialism does. Sometimes, simple can be harder than complex. One has to work hard to achieve clear thinking and streamlining their goals to make it simple. Simplicity should not be confused with having less or getting it easy. Rather, simplicity is all about getting it right and not compromising under any circumstances. Simplicity recommends dealing with one aspect at a time. A clear and concise focus always fast-tracks the thoughts and actions necessary to find out solutions to problems and that makes any end result the most sophisticated. 
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” [2020]
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