|Is perfection a Myth?|
I’ve gone both ways – creating messes and surviving them. And I’ve found that both ways of living are equally valuable. I can especially see this now, after several years of active awakening. Though I fail at tasks, though I say the wrong things, though I fall short in my domestic responsibilities and sometimes feel overwhelmed by emotion, I trust that my Self is perfection and I don’t feel embarrassed or egotistical for saying it.
Perfection is funny word. It’s stacked with all sorts of subjective assumptions. Can a person be perfect and still make mistakes? I think so, yes. Because my interpretation of perfection is through a divine filter. Every time I’ve royally screwed up, the screw up has led me to a healthier or more productive place. So in that regard, I see “imperfection” as a catalyst to course correct, and therefore is actually divine perfection. And I see all of those decisions that led me to the royal screw up as perfect opportunities to more deeply connect to love through the empathy and compassionate understanding that only comes with personal experience.
My meditation practice allows me to see my own perfection and to do the best I can to live in that state of acceptance; but I still get mad. I still feel jealous. I still get overexcited. Just not as much as I used to, and not for as long. (Thank God for that!!!)
It’s not that feeling these things is wrong or bad. Anger, jealousy and excitement are important parts of the human experience. But they are also feelings that manifest physically in the form of conditions like anxiety, depression and IBS among other things. Contentment, joy and acceptance, on the other hand, manifest physically in ways that can make us feel pretty great: restful sleep, younger skin, emotional well-being and a thousand others. The practice helps the practitioner to notice the more challenging feelings when they arise so that they can be processed and balanced in a period of time that does not wreak havoc on our bodies.
But even in the course of writing this story, I’m sliding in and out of my perception of perfection. For example, sometimes I’ll read articles or books written by gurus who are further along in their spiritual development than I. And then months later I’ll watch them in an interview or read another account in which they appear to be attached to material things or fame or power, and then I get miffed. I assume that because the guru seems to be far along the path that he should have the strength and wisdom to resist temptations and challenges – that he should be more resilient to those things – more so than us reg’ler folk. That he should be “perfect” in his choices and behaviors because he is on a huge platform instructing people how to live through spirit.
But I have to remind myself that for the most part, with few exceptions, they’re just reg’ler folk, too. Today they’re enlightened. Tomorrow they’re swirled up in a twister of materialism, competition and Nielsen ratings. The day after that they may be enlightened again. (Not that I think it all happens that fast. ;-) The awakening process is a practice, as is enlightenment. Imagining that enlightenment is a higher level of awakening, even an enlightened person must continue his Self work. Humans are only human, after all.
This said, I find that more than any spiritual teacher or guru, the person I need to trust the most is myself. When I follow my heart and I can’t go wrong. And I can never disappoint myself, because I know I’m perfect – in my own way and in my own time. I need not worry about the state of someone else’s practice because depending on someone else’s state of awakening only distracts me from my own. I do my own work and I encourage others to do theirs, in their own way. As the Buddha said, “Work hard to gain your own salvation.”
So we’ll try our best not to judge ourselves or those around us as we all stumble and glide and stumble and glide through life collaboratively. We can lower our expectations while raising our frequency to find harmony with the perfection that exists in each of us.
From mine to yours,
Vanessa is a community activist, philanthropist and newspaper columnista in Winchester, Massachusetts. Read her stories on her blog Bringing Up Buddhas.