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December 10, 2008

Comments

phalachandra

Well, Simon, if there is the tiniest imperfection on the Hubble Space Telescope's mirror, or in fact any mirror of a huge telescope, it can result in huge blurring. Or take the space suit either as used in space or in a cdc lab, if it were to be only 98% perfect, it as well need not exist! So there are any number of situations where 100% perfection is required, even when editing, for example one small typo in something like Oxford dictionary could result in a good deal of embarrassment. Also consider tv shows, one tiny glitch or stammering on the anchor's part could be very damaging. As for the dance shows, American idol etc, perfection is what they seek and perfection is what is rewarded. So we do have to aim at perfection, only our definition of perfection should be made more intelligent and appropriate. As for the big bang and all that, it is just the absolute pinnacle of perfection - the task was to bring about a structured universe, and the big bang just did that, right? Ditto for evolution. Perfection certainly doesn't mean everything should be symmetrical or in straight lines!! About your original topic of christmas season, frankly I don't see where perfection comes in, it is just a time to celebrate and have fun!

Simon

I'll let you into a secret, phalachandra. I wrote this several weeks ago and tagged the Christmas bit on as a final thought to make it more topical. But hey, I never said my post was perfect! And as I suggested by citing brain surgery, I think there are indeed times when perfection is needed. Only most of the time it isn't, so we may be giving ourselves a hard time if we're aiming for it. Perhaps the bottom line is to aim in each circumstance for what is 'intelligent and appropriate', to use your excellent phrase.

As for the universe, perhaps we can agree that it is perfect in its imperfection. And it seems to me that if we *really* wanted perfection, we wouldn't be here in the physical world anyway, so its imperfection is perfect for our needs.

Many thanks for your stimulating comment!

phalachandra

Yes, you did mention brain surgery, but I gave other examples just to allude to the fact that the need for perfection is not limited to brain surgery or rocket science, and is much much more prevalent generally. But anyway, since this is a spirituality blog, maybe your readers would expect you to give a spiritual take on it. As far as I know, spirituality too insists on perfection, for example Osho's insistence that 99% effort or longing is not enough, 100% is needed, the water only boils at 100 degrees! I think Lao Tzu clears up things further. He says everything in nature is perfect because it is in accord with Tao, and we can reach that kind of 'perfection' to the extent we align ourselves with tao. Note that this perfection does not imply a static state with no further movement or growth, on the contrary, perfect movement and perfect growth. In fact, many people experience God in this kinda perfection where nothing seems to be missing, and everything is in its place. In our daily lives too, I think we have to aim at perfection, but let it happen organically, effortlessly, rather than with tension and friction. I agree with your 'perfectly imperfect' observation, and I'd say 'perfectly imperfect' could often be considired a state greater than 'perfectly perfect'.

Grace

Hi, Simon!!! :) How are you, my friend?? I've just recently returned to Blogland and made my way here!

Oh...I am going to raise my hand right now..

"Hello, my name is Grace, and I am a recovering Perfectionist!" LOL

One thing I learned about this idea of wanting everything 'perfect' (even when it comes to scientific theory???) is the feeling of CONTROL it (illusionarily) creates. Needing to feel in control was so immportant to me...because it made me feel SAFE.

Now adays I realize that all of us - including the Universe - are doing our very best with what we have at that moment, however 'imperfect' the results might be.

It's been so liberating! Much like an amoeba must feel! LOLOL Happy Holidays and much love to you and yours!

Simon

Hi again, phalachandra. I think the point I was trying to make is that things have to be perfect a lot less often than we perfectionists think!

It seems to me that in creative activity, the inspiration behind it is something which we consider – in that moment, at least – to be perfect. Then we work to bring that glimpse of perfection into being. If we’re truly inspired, in the zone, in accord with Tao, however we like to express it, then that work will be effortless. Most of the time, however, we will judge whatever we produce at the end of this work to be less than perfect, perhaps because we were not fully in alignment with the universe after all! Then we will labour, much more arduously now, to revise it. But how long does this work go on? How long do we seek that perfection? That is what we have to decide. What I am suggesting is that sometimes we labour too long.

As for living in presence, in a state of alignment with the universe in our everyday life, my experience suggests that this is achieved by ‘letting go’, by surrendering our will, rather than by setting our sights upon perfection. Once that surrender has been achieved, than perfection simply comes – it takes care of itself - for then the universe is working through us. Then everything happens ‘organically, effortlessly, rather than with tension and friction’, just as you describe it. ‘Nothing seems to be missing, and everything is in its place.’

Perhaps where the 100% longing comes in is that we have to desire with our hearts 100% for that ‘letting go’ to happen, at least for such a state to be stabilized. I sometimes wonder if such a thing is possible, though, and I have a feeling that even here, perfection may not be needed after all. It seems that people can travel so far, then enlightenment just sort of ‘happens’. We start off flying with all our might, then the wind carries us along…

Simon

Grace – you’re back! What a wonderful surprise for Christmas! It’s great to hear from you. I’ve really missed you and your blog – I look forward to visiting again!

I’ll let you into a secret – I have been a perfectionist too, and from what you say, you’re a lot further along the road to giving it up than I am. This has been very much a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ post for me, using my blog – not for the first time – to convince myself of a change I need to make in my life.

As you say, we can get very attached to the idea of being ‘in control’. It’s just one more of those illusory ideas the ego has to give ourselves a hard time. Once we let go of that need – those words ‘let go’ again! – we start to get in touch with the true source of our power.

Now you’re back in the blogosphere, Grace, feel free to play the relaxed amoeba if you wish! Once upon a time, I felt I had to post here every few days. Now I do it two or three times a month. The ‘letting go’ felt wonderful - and you know what? People still read the posts. Yet another of the many opportunities which blogging provides for spiritual practice… :-)

Miruh

I notice that those who strive for perfection tend to be perpetually dissatisfied while those who are ok with being just good enough tend to have a happier disposition. In my own life my truths are continuously changing and evolving as I grow in wisdom that I believe in the perfection of the imperfection of the world we live in. Then there is room for us to grow and change our minds about what we once held as absolute.

Interesting post, thanks!

Simon, may the light and love of the holiday season surround you and your loved ones with many blessings!

AngelBaby

I just love the differences in people, everyone of them. It makes my life so interesting and fun. It would be so boring if everyone was just like me. I meet people from all walks of life in every condition you can imagine and each one has a different way of looking at the world. I just love it. Thanks for sharing this because I love my imperfection it makes me who I am!

Love and Blessings,
AngelBaby

phalachandra

Well Simon, I am an unrepentant perfectionist, the odd man out of the group here, I guess! You say, "But how long does this work go on? How long do we seek that perfection? That is what we have to decide." Actually there is not much to decide, the seeking for perfection goes as long as there is scope for improvement and growth. That is what all that version1 v2 thing is about. Often we would have to leave things as they are even if we know they are less than perfect, due to constraints of time and capacity, but we would do that only with a wish it had been otherwise, and go seek perfection in other endeavors. But the pursuit goes on, even to an extreme extent. As the zen aphorism says it, 'When the archer achieves perfection, he forgets the bow.' The taoists go even further, they say, when the archer achieves perfection, he has no use for the bow! When I read this I wondered whatever they are talking about. Turns out that when the master becomes perfect, he can even move an arrow with his mind! Now you know what I meant!

Just today morning, a few hours ago, I was watching a program on tv, where a legendary choreographer of India, Saroj Khan, a fat old lady from the outside, is teaching dance to four girls. She keeps repeating the adage 'Practice makes you perfect' to encourage the students. But what is amazing is, the four girls dance to a tune, a complex and beautiful series of movements, for me they all do it exactly the same, in perfect sync with each other, but the master is happy with two, and unhappy with two. She even scolds one. And with my limited knowledge, I can't even make out the explanation of the deficiencies she gives, beats, numbers and all that! Incidentally, they have a huge statue of Natraj, the Dancing Shiva, in the background. In India, dance is treated as a very spiritual thing traditionally since we consdiered the universe as God's dance. Dance and perfection go together!

As for letting go point you have raised, I think unfortunately, most often this concept of letting go becomes an excuse of laziness and sloppiness. Let's view life as a dance, you can dance by letting go, as they do in parties or mtv spring-break, just shoddy jumping about, no control, no complexity, no art, just nothing more than a little fun. But there is another letting go which happens to dancers at the height of perfection, when they have striven to the utmost, and gave their everything, a force from inside seems to take over. So letting go can happen at two levels, and this higher level is the kind I prefer! One of the guys here was commenting, seeking perfection we have to live perpetually unsatisified, but that is what is known as 'divine discontent'!

Have a perfect weekend, hehe!

phalachandra

Btw, I would welcome any comments on my new blog, http://gobergas.blogspot.com ... I post under a penname there - GG - owing to the controversial nature of the blog!

Robin

Good point Simon - when I am doing writing work, there comes a point where you just have to leave it the way it is, and stop revising it. This applies to blogging too - partly because if you keep perfecting posts, they will never get published, and also because if you leave gaps, it gives other people room to say something in the comments.

Frank and I find that some of the musicians we work with try too hard to make everything perfect in their recordings, with the result their work does not get out very much - surprise, surprise.

Merry Christmas if I don't meet up with you before-hand!

phalachandra

Sir Robin, perfection doesn't mean revising every draft that you write indefinitely and never publish it, on the contrary, it means to write something which you don't have to revise even once! Besides, one really doesn't have to worry about comments, there is always room for them.

Simon

Hi Miruh – Many thanks for your comment and for your good wishes. I shall visit your blog to reciprocate! I suspect that ‘absolutes’ exist but perhaps it is best not to clutch them to us too tightly! Like you, I have found that people tend to be happier if they are free and easy about things. It makes sense, because they’re going to spend less time arguing with reality.

Simon

Welcome Angelbaby - Thanks for pointing out that life would be very boring if we all saw things the same way! People have every right to be perfectionists if they want to be. I just wonder: have they always asked themselves if they are happy that way?

Simon

Hi again phalachandra – As Angelbaby says, we are all different and that makes life so interesting – so of course it’s fine for you to be a perfectionist if you want to be. Who knows what attainments this may lead you to? And like I say, the truth is that I’m still a perfectionist myself a lot of the time. After all, here I am at the weekend, chewing away at this discussion of ours like a dog with a bone…

And I do feel that when it comes to the specific question of spirituality, your insistence on perfection may be mistake. I say this in all humility, not because I want to try to ‘win the argument’, but in an attempt on behalf of us all to get at the truth.

The ‘letting go’ of which I speak has nothing to do with sloppiness. It is a deep ‘knowing’, a ‘yes’ to life, a ‘yes’ to what is. The metaphor I tend to use is that of a man holding on to the reeds on the bank of a river, desperate to avoid being swept along by the current. The man thinks he is in control because he is holding on, but the truth is that this is a stressful situation in which little can be achieved. It serves him much better if he simply lets go and allows the river carry him along. Now he can relax and go with the flow. Everything now seems effortless. The river is the universe, the river is life – and the man is a part of it all.

It is wonderful when this ‘letting go’ happens. There is often a feeling of deep joy. All the muscles relax, and physical pains can disappear in an instant. Everything seems ‘right’. If the ‘knowing’ persists then you have reached enlightenment. Or at least, you have reached a certain level of enlightenment, for it is a process rather than a single condition.

How this ‘letting go’ is achieved is not important. It is the ‘letting go’, the surrender, which is important. It is the surrender of the ego, the ‘little self’. Spiritual practice simply serves to facilitate this. You say you prefer the ‘higher level’ of letting go, which can arise from the pursuit of perfection, but it seems to me that intricate spiritual practices such as the dancing you mention are simply a vehicle for the attainment of this state. The practices are intricate specifically to occupy the mind, which might otherwise get in the way of the release. If a similar state of surrender can be achieved in another way, then that is equally beneficial.

It seems to me that striving for perfection can actually get in the way of this transformation. We may focus on the practice itself and lose sight of the purpose behind it. Worse still, our mastery of the practice may become a source of pride, bolstering our ego, bolstering the very part of ourselves we need to surrender.

The truth is that we do no have to perfect ourselves. We do not need to turn ourselves into anything other than we are already are. The glorious truth is that we are already perfect, already a part of God, a part of the One. Our only ‘failing’ is that we do not recognize this. What we need to understand is that the spiritual journey is not about getting anywhere. It is about self-realization, the understanding that we have already arrived.

I am not at all sure that this will convince you, phalachandra, but I offer you my deepest thanks for this opportunity to express it for myself – and for anyone else who may find this.

I've taken a peek at your new blog - very tasteful! :-)

Simon

Hi Robin - I agree with you entirely about the revising - and I understand that it's just the same for artists as well. I've found the same as you about blogs and comments. A perfect post will usually attract few comments, other than the odd 'I agree with you', but the more holes you leave in your arguments, the more people will come rushing in to pick away at them. This is more evidence of the imperfect perfection in which we live, I think!

A Very Merry Christmas to you too - though I hope to visit soon! And I seem to remember something about a sound bite...

Simon

Hi phalachandra again - Just to let you know: Robin is a lady, as are most spiritual bloggers, it seems, or at any rate, most of the ones who visit this blog! It makes a change to have some male company here. You *are* male, aren't you?

Sally

All I can say that life ain't perfect and it is our acceptance of that which gives us ease. Krishnamurti once said "D'you want to know my secret?".......and they did.......his response was "I don't mind what happens"
Watching the back and forth of the comments here reminds me how the ego will see my way as the only way .....but the only way is to have the open mind......your view is your view phalachandra and would only be my view if we had lived identical lives. I have learnt that an opinion can only be my own and how can I expect anyone else to change to mine. Sure makes my life easier as everyone else has such strong views which they want to share with me. A true Spiritual being I would imagine would feel no need to feel they need to change others views to our own. I don't always feel moved to chip in here although I always read the blog.
Discussion is good but always with an open mind .....a need to be right is something to watch and learn from.......I am generally proved wrong in Spiritual discussions ........which is fine (I read little so my view is lived rather than informed by a lot of authors ......beyond Eckhart Tolle and Gangaji)
Letting go of the feeling that my way is the way is a huge leap in consciousness.
Be well my friends
Sally

GothaX Dark

I dont know, It sounds very interesting and also very logical what you said about Matter and Antimatter.
also do I think that Perfection is a matter of definition. My perfect day out would be walking with my girl under moonlight, while others would call going to a movie theater as a perfect way to spend a day out.
Like the first person commenting you after this article, said, some thing must be 100% okay, but some thing that works a 100% could still be imperfect. Like the hubble space telescope she was talking about, it could be perfect for the one who wanted to see the moon, but someone who want to see something out of reach wouldn't rate it 100% perfect. Although that seems logical to me. What can be of use to me, maybe the perfect thing for the job (any job) could be worthless to you so we come back at the fact that the matter of perfection is a matter of definition.

I also want to compliment Sally, cause what she says is surely true. We should never try to force our opinions on another. But that doesn't mean we can't give our own opinion to learn from each others insights.
Sometimes we say what we think just to let others know how we think, with no deeper reason as to turn some one else his or her opinion to yours. It would be naive to blindly believe what you believe, that why I think sally is right about being open minded, like keeping in mind that you could be wrong even if you are sure. You should always be prepared for the fact that none of us knows everything and could have gotten wrong information. And also that we all have gained our knowledge by our own experiences.

GothaX

Sally

Thank you Gotha......
By the way, before Simon points it out this would be a very quiet blog if we didn't share our opinions. Sharing insights is what it is all about.
That is why we all enjoy this blog so much! but as I said, an open mind is important......in fact an open mind is an uncluttered mind!

phalachandra

Oops, Lady Robin it is then! However, someone above called me a girl, so I guess we are even! Briefly, let me sum up my reaction to your answer, no more comments from my side on this post, I promise! It is the fundamental spiritual truth that our essential nature is absolutely perfect, exactly as you said, but that is at the theoretical level. And exactly because our being is based on such timeless perfection, it becomes our duty to strive to manifest that perfection in whatever we do. Through work, effort, commitment, discontent, struggle, frustration, motivation, and so on. Yes, we are God at one level, but this process of manifesting is what makes us human, I don't know what you have got against effort and such. In India, it is called Karma Yoga, yoga of effort or action, though people never practiced it.

In Lao-Tzu's time, when a man never used to venture out of his village all his life, your letting-go would have been fine, just relax and look at the sky and enjoy, but not in our times, except on an occasional break basis. If you are not constantly insisting on perfection, you are against science, progress, technological improvement and even civilization itself. Incidentally, Lao-Tzu was vehemently against science, insisting every thing was already perfect, we need not strive for it any more! Also, emphasizing on letting-go as a way of life, and not just as a meditation technique, can give a very wrong message to youngsters. All I want to say is, the real let-go you mention can never happen unless one is totally in a state of no-mind, that is, enlightened. And I don't think any of us here is yet, so it makes no sense. Mind can never relinquish, never let go, as long as it exists. But what it easily can do is create a false sense of let-go, an illusion. Which will lead to sloth, sloppiness, lack of quality, boredom and suffering. The history of 'East' bears witness to the tragic fact of how retarded people can get if they are not striving for perfection in one way or other. In the West, they were doing so, but they didn't have any real perspective on life, the problems West faced traditionally cannot be attributed to struggle for perfection, but lack of vision.

I actually feel that even an enlightened person has to strive for perfection, though that is kind of logical contradiction since the enlightened person doesn't exist. For example, you people think Eckhart Tolle is enlightened, I see that you personally respect him a lot, but I just completed writing a six-page mammoth post on my new 'tasteful' blog discussing how ridiculously, tastelessly sloppy the first four lines of his book are, though they may sound so beautiful and poetic to an inattentive reader!

Anyways, been good interacting with you here, some other time then.

Simon

Thanks for your contribution, Sally! I love the quote from Krishnamurti. That pretty much sums up everything!

You are right to remind us to watch out for that need to be right! It can be a big ego thing. That hasn't been my impression of what's been going on here. I think phalachandra and I have both been trying to express what we believe and perhaps feeling a certain frustration that the other cannot see what seems perfectly obvious to us! But I think our primary motivation has been to lay bare the truth. Is that the same as 'needing to be right'? I don't think so, but perhaps I'm not the best person to judge!

Simon

Hi GothaX - Many thanks for your comment! As you say, perfection is 'a matter of definition' - or indeed, a matter of personal taste. We can labor away to perfect a piece of art, but we're never going to produce something that *everyone* thinks is perfect. Perhaps this is something it is worth bearing in mind.

Simon

Hi again phalachandra - My experience is that the mind *can* let go. This is something that many people can experience through meditation and other techniques. In TM, they call it 'cosmic consciousness' for instance. I'm not saying it's easy to make it last for long, but for short periods it is readily achievable for many.

Also, you really *don't* have to be enlightened to let go. It is rather the other way round. You have to let go to be enlightened!

The perfectionist in me would like to engage with you on other points too, but perhaps it is time to practice what I preach and let go of the bone! As you suggest, it is time for us to draw this discussion to a close. I'm not sure that our opinions are any closer together than we were when we started, but we have both had chance to express ourselves and - who knows? - perhaps we have planted seeds in each other's minds which will some day bear fruit. Perhaps one day, we will find ourselves saying 'D*mn - he was right after all!' Or perhaps not, which is also fine. Either way, I have enjoyed our discussion and I hope we shall speak again.

Hmmm, that Eckhart Tolle post of yours sounds interesting...

Sue Ann Edwards

Truly enJoyed missing out on this one...

for a recognize the consciousness virus and ~old~ energy through ALL of it.

Blessings Dear

Simon

Hmmm. Consciousness virus? Sounds like I better start studying that email you sent me, Sue Ann..

Vivi-Mari

Hey, a totally informative and inspiring article that leaves one craving for more! At least it's to some comfort for the artist like me who is never COMPLETELY satisfied! Btw, if you have time check out my new website, www.vivimaricarpelan.com. My art seems to be taking off, e.g. deal with a company in London... I also added your blog through technocrati. Should read blogs more actively but it's been a stifling year... :-) love, Vivi-Mari

Sue Ann Edwards

Yes {{Bro}}, a consciousness virus...and I don't believe I have ever mentioned it to you before, so there is no need to look.

It's a virus in consciousness and we have ALL been infected with it. The "cure" brings both invulnerability and immunity to it.

One thing that might be useful to realize, is that when we're blind, we truly cannot see. The key, is in realizing is that we do NOT desire to see. This leads us in Wisdom to ask ourselves, "what is it about ourselves that we do not wish to face?"

Most often, it will be an emotional attachment that we depend on, for feelings of righteousness.

Another interesting concept is "evolving", for what passed as a "revelation" to monkey-man, isn't anything of interest or application to modern man. Simply put, some of our 'religious' ideas have never evolved past an age when we were rather ignorant nomads.

Did you know there is a group on the net NOW, that believes our world is flat? Flat, like a checker board. Gravity, they say, is due to this flat 'gameboard' being lifted at a constant rate.

Sense, is what counts. For as illustrated here, our minds and our thinking patterns are contaminated and distorted by contradictions and concepts of separation.

The tone of SPIRIT is Unity, so all our ideas, no matter where they came from, that have even the slightest hint of 'separate', as in, the Spiritual plane being "separate" from this one, as simply man-made non-sense.

"Perfect" is whatever IS. Just as
Justice" is whatever Is, Was or Will Be.

No separations between the planes or the dimensions exists.

Simon

Hi Vivi-Mari - It's great to hear from you and I'm glad you are having success with your artwork! I shall take a look at your website when I get the chance. My impression is that it's even harder for artists than for writers to know when to leave off 'improving' a piece. If you are never completely satisfied, I guess the trick is to recognize this in yourself and remember that there are further works calling to be born.

Simon

Sue Ann - I think you should write more about this 'consciousness virus'. I know you have moved on from the idea, but it sounds like the title of a bestselling book to me! It sounds to me like you are talking about the virus we caught from that pesky serpent in the Garden of Eden, the one which made us start dividing things up into 'good' and 'bad', 'right' and 'wrong'. That was the origin of separation, wasn't it? Am I on the right lines?

It's certainly difficult for us to rid ourselves of this idea of separation. It's kind of how we're taught to make sense of the world: dividing things up, cataloging things, describing the ways in which things are different, especially that most important 'different' of all: 'us' and 'them'. What *is* the cure, exactly?

I like to think that not everything I write is rooted in separation. You say that ALL the above is 'old thinking', but what about this bit I wrote:

"The truth is that we do no have to perfect ourselves. We do not need to turn ourselves into anything other than we are already are. The glorious truth is that we are already perfect, already a part of God, a part of the One. Our only ‘failing’ is that we do not recognize this. What we need to understand is that the spiritual journey is not about getting anywhere. It is about self-realization, the understanding that we have already arrived."

Is there some sense of separation hiding in there that I can't see? I ask this not to challenge you, just to understand what I may be mis-understanding!

AngelBaby

I think some people need to be perfectionists just to let us see how difficult it would be to be like that. We need the contrast in life to find out what we really want. It would be sooooo boring if we did not have differences in life.

I have something for you at my site, stop by and see.

Love and Blessings,
AngelBabu

Marion

As a young adult, years ago, I constantly strove for perfection. It took so much energy...and I rarely felt satisfied.

With wisdom acquired with age, I have discovered that rarely are the imperfections of a thing remembered after the fact. I cannot remember how imperfect some Christmases were; rather, I remember how wonderfully they were celebrated...just as they were. Warts and all!

Simon

Hi again Angelbaby. Thank you - I'll pop across and see you at your blog!

Simon

Thanks for this useful perspective, Marion. Put this way, it's really a case of 'half full' or 'half empty', isn't it? Where do we put our focus? It makes most sense to focus on what we get right in life, not on the imperfections, which the chances are that no one else has noticed anyway.

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