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  • Writer's pictureby Essence Diaries

The Paradox of Perfection

As the times suggest in my personal life and our entry into the sign of Virgo, I woke up this morning with this text about the quest for perfection burning to be written. It is an understanding that I needed and that came to me through the response of the dream-state to my waking-state. Here I share the spoils in the hope that they might be useful to someone or anyone.

Perfection is not a goal. It is a concern. It is an unachievable ideal. If sought, it actually interferes negatively with any process.

It is not the case that perfection does not exist. I am confident that there are perfect moments, a word that fits perfectly in a particular context, even a perfect work of art. This doesn't mean that something can be perfect always and everywhere. But it does mean that there can be a feeling of total contentment that can be called “perfect”, and even that this feeling can be put into something that has some sort of permanence (like a painting, for instance).

And yet it is an unachievable ideal. As soon as it is sought or desired, whether consciously or not, it becomes a concern that drains the energy out of action. True perfection can only arise as grace, here understood as the space created by impeccable action. Thus action without mind: graceful like a dancer in heightened awareness.

In fact that which is graceful, complete, is harmonious with its own intent. And this cannot be achieved. It cannot come about if perfection is desired as a result. This kind of completeness can only arise in the absence of the ideal that attempts to pre-form it. It is an unguaranteed fruit of love, sincerity, inspiration, and complete action. Thus, action that is spontaneous, responsive, alert, fully unconcerned about a future result. In a word, trust.

No one can imagine perfection. We can only be concerned with it. And this concern will inevitably block us from opening up and accepting the specific conditions of our playground. It deprives us of the possibility of immersion into the moment. With perfection in mind we live in the “not yet”. With perfection in mind the present always needs to be saved. It either needs to be saved from its “imperfections” or, if considered a 'perfect moment', it needs to be 'saved' in much the same way that I will save this document on my PC for future use; as a memory to be stuffed and kept on the shelf. In any case the present moment is compromised, our direct experience of it impeded by the mind that wants to either “fix” it or “collect” it.

The mind, clever and crafty as it is, forms empty thought-forms like 'perfection' because it energises itself through disappointment. And seeking perfection will always bring some level of disappointment. Disappointment will also incline us to trust life less, and so the vicious cycle of pain is created.

We then seek perfection by trying to repeat an experience that felt complete. And we get stuck in our personal religion and ritual, always unconsciously broken because we can never get the feeling back. The difference between a person that normally seeks perfection and a 'perfectionist' is that a perfectionist never forgives the disappointments, and keeps digging his grave until despair or depression take root. Easy to see the fingerprints of the pain-body here.

Seeking perfection, even in the “normal” way, is the work of the super-ego, the inner judge that chastises and censors the expression of pure feeling. Seeking perfection is the direct opposite of forgiveness. For we also seek perfection to right a wrong. Instead of forgiving the past we try to make up for its disappointments. This is a recipe for disaster. The disappointed mind can only create further disappointment.

Essentially disappointment is a conflict with the present moment. The egoic mind cannot survive presence, and will find the noblest-sounding excuses to great a presence-gap.

Presence is in fact the moment of true perfection, better described by the word “completeness”. And this is because it cannot be sought, only found. The moment of presence is always accompanied by a surprised inner rejoicing, as if we have never been there before. And perhaps we had never been, for in the infinite and eternal present there is no 'before', no 'after'. Unlike the pursuit of perfection, presence surprises us every time with its freshness. Sometimes you can sit for two hours hoping for the moment to come, and it simply doesn't. Then you are taking a walk and suddenly the world is gone and there is only silence. Just like that, the completeness has consumed you.

Perhaps this is why the English word 'present' is also used for 'gift'.

So we can say that the paradox of perfection is that it can always happen... unless it is sought or desired. Much like the famous riddle on the movie “La Vita e Bella” in which Silence is gone as soon as you speak its name.


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