Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Quest for Perfection

The Quest for Perfection

One last blog entry before the year ends. It feels good to be tucked comfortably at home, while the rest of the world is out there partying. New Year Eve to me is a good time to reflect, to reassess and to enter into "calibration mode".

When you are young, you feel a certain restlessness, a certain longing to belong to the world, to be a part of something--a cause, an image or an idenitity. When you are older, these things don't matter so much anymore for you are more secure in your own beliefs, in your understanding of the nature of Man and the world out there. You define what is meaningful to yourself and you go about doing it. That's your dharma, your duty, the reason you were born into this world.

A lot of people fear growing old. It is a fear that one has to come to terms with sooner or later. All things in the universe are subject to decay. If we can watch nature unfold in fast-motion--like what you see in some of those nature documentaries on TV--you'll realize that nothing in this universe is static and the apparent solidity and permanence of your physical body is but an illusion.

The molecules of your body do not belong to you--they are part of the continuous flux of energy and matter that is nature. You are but a temporary conglomeration of energy and matter--like a star or a planet--that will ultimately dissolve back into that Great Void.

This illusory, Matrix-like nature of the world is something that mystics have known for ages. When you realize these things, then you begin to see your life in a completely different perspective. All this clinging to the temporary sense objects in the world seems so foolishly futile. Which is why sometimes in life we are never satisfied--nothing ever seems to be the way we want it to be. Why shoud it be? Your idea of perfection is one that is doomed to fail from the very beginning because it means shaping Nature in a certain way to suit your liking.

Nature is already perfect as it is. How can something that is already perfect be further "perfected"?

Now hang on: How can we say that Nature is perfect when you see natural disasters, wars and calamities taking away thousands of human lives every year?

When I say Nature is perfect, what I mean is that Nature cannot operate in any other way. It is the way it is. There's nothing personal about it. One can accept it or fight against it. Only acceptance brings peace and harmony with our surroundings.

Our human views of perfection are very narrow because they are ruled by our egoist and selfish ideas of what perfection should be. When we seek to create our "perfect worlds" by reengineering Nature, then we have upset the balance of forces in the world. One country seeks "perfection" at the expense of another. So the balance of forces in the world have been disturbed, and Hegelian dialectic begins.

You are conscious of your own being. You care for that small part of Nature--your body, your family, your friends, your possession, your country, your planet as "your world". You want this "world" to be perfect. But it is not a closed system, it is part of a larger system which is Nature itself. As long as you see your world as a fraction of the whole, it can never be "perfect". How can it be?

Imperfection exists because we care for a small part of the whole. But that is all that our small mortal selves are capable of. So, as long as our souls are small, and our wants are selfish, we have to accept imperfections. Take it with a sense of acceptance. Take it with resolve, with understanding, with courage, with wisdom. Take it with equanimity.

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