Subscribe to RSS

Posts Tagged ‘Saint Augustine’

Is Personal Perfection Possible?

“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress, driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions. Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,
to find out his own imperfections.”
~ Saint Augustine
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations
comes nearest to perfection.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Advance, and never halt, for advancing is perfection.”
~  Kahlil Gibran
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,
and are not the way they are not.
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





Is Personal Perfection Possible?

Q. Is personal perfection possible?

A. As Ecclesiastes 7:20 aptly observes:

“There are none on Earth so righteous that they never sin.”

Incarnation involves limitation – and fallibility.

We’re here to learn and to evolve,
and evolution toward ‘perfection’ implies imperfection.

So, a perfect person’s not possible.



Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”

Dear Friends, 

The forgoing essay and quotations raise an important philosophical question for our consideration, “Is Personal Perfection Possible?”. 

The idea of “perfection” has different meanings for different people.  But, in our world of relativity and duality “perfection” implies “imperfection”.  You can’t have one without the other.  And realizing that all humans are limited or flawed can help us accept others as spiritual siblings – children of the Divine in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness.

Upon mistakenly believing ourselves to be “mortals” separate from each other and Nature, we become subject to the karmic law of cause and effect.  And we are motivated by inevitable karmic sufferings to evolve beyond our supposed duality; beyond our conceptions of separate perfection or imperfection.  Thus we are advancing toward realization that cosmically we are not separate “persons”, but  ONE Eternal Spirit or Infinite Awareness.  

But while we remain caught by karmic law of cause and effect, we can’t ever achieve individual “perfection”. 

Soon after my spiritual awakening I enrolled in a ‘new age’ seminar called “est”, founded by Werner Erhard, a charismatic and controversial former salesman who claimed to be sharing an esoteric epiphany he experienced while driving across the Golden Gate Bridge.  As discussed in my  Getting “IT” at est  memoirs chapter, the est training planted significant seeds for my spiritual evolution by presenting some important and intriguing ideas from perennial wisdom teachings, which were then new to me, and which today remain important – like dis-identifying with the “voice in my head” and “accepting the present moment”.  To emphasize the importance of accepting the present moment, the NOW, Werner Erhard taught that everything (but not everyone) is “perfect”.
 
That: 

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not.  As you can see, this universe is perfect.”


Accepting “what is” NOW in the present moment remains for me a core principle for living a happy life, after over forty years of experience and reflection.  And since 1976 and est, I have repeatedly written about the idea of “perfection”, as in the foregoing brief Q and A essay and key quotations. 

In philosophically reflecting and writing on “perfection”, I have concluded that  “All is perfection, but nobody’s perfect”.  And I’ve found that empathetically seeing all humans as limited or flawed helps us experience ever growing happiness.

So this posting is offered to help us identify all humans as spiritual siblings in varying evolutionary stages of opening to the eternal Light of Infinite Awareness – children of the Divine with whom we are ‘fellow travelers’ on the spiritual path to “perfection”.  
 
And so may it be! 

Ron Rattner

What is Perfection?

“All people are flawed;
none are perfect.
But the most flawed,
are those who think or claim they’re perfect.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth
who continually does good and who never sins”
~ Ecclesiastes 7:20
“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations

comes nearest to perfection.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Were I to await perfection, my book would never be finished.”
~ Chinese Proverb
“Nowadays the world is becoming increasingly materialistic,
and mankind is reaching toward the very zenith of external progress,
driven by an insatiable desire for power and vast possessions.
Yet by this vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative, they wander even further away from inward peace and happiness of the mind.”
~ H.H. the Dalai Lama
“Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything,

That’s how the light gets in.”

~ Leonard Cohen
“This is the very perfection of a man,

to find out his own imperfections.”

~ Saint Augustine
“Advance, and never halt,
for advancing is perfection.”

~ Kahlil Gibran
“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are,

and are not the way they are not.

As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

~ Werner Erhard, est
“Incarnation is limitation.”
“All is perfection,

but nobody’s perfect.”

~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings





What is Perfection?

Q. What is perfection?

A. “Perfection” is an idea;
a conception in duality reality.

Perfection implies imperfection.

So in relative reality we can not have perfection without imperfection.

And in Ultimate Reality beyond relative reality,
there is no perfection.

Ultimate Reality is beyond conception,
and so beyond “perfection”.


Ron’s Reflections on “What is Perfection?”

Dear Friends,

Have you ever met a ‘perfect’ person?  Or perceived or projected “perfection” in this crazy world of ecological, political, and economic crises and constant conflicts?   Have you ever considered seeking inner “perfection” as a life goal? 

Before my mid-life change of life, I had never reflected on ideas of “perfection”.  

But soon thereafter I attended “est”, an impactful self-help seminar where I was first exposed to certain Eastern spirituality principles skillfully collected and experientially presented to help participants radically transform their lives. 

The key est teaching was acceptance of the present moment – emotionally accepting “what is” because it could not be otherwise.  [See Getting “IT” at est, ] Apt to this teaching was the foregoing “perfection” definition, by est’s founder Werner Erhard:  

“Perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, 
and are not the way they are not.  
As you can see, this universe is perfect.”

Intrigued by est, I began reflecting about “perfection” and sometimes wrote sutras and essays, later posted online.  Accordingly, many Silly Sutras postings deal with my evolving reflections on “perfection”. Because these reflections significantly have helped my spiritual opening process, I have shared them hoping they may help others, as they have helped me.

After est, I soon realized that in our phenomenal duality reality “perfection” is an idea, which implies it’s opposite – imperfection; that we can’t have one, without the other. So, a “perfect” person isn’t possible.

Ultimately, I became persuaded by non-duality teachings discouraging “vain striving for perfection in a world where everything is relative” – and impermanent.

But for a while I mistakenly believed that there were exceptions to my conclusion that an infallible “perfect” person isn’t possible.

This happened after I was blessed to meet my beloved venerable Hindu guru, Sri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas. [ See The Luckiest Day of My Life ~ Meeting My Spiritual Master ] and also met certain other “enlightened” spiritual teachers in the US and India. Whereupon, I became a “born-again Hindu”, and read and recited Eastern scriptures and liturgy glorifying divinity of “gurus” and awakened “buddhas”. 

Naively, I thereafter began projecting “perfection” onto Guruji and a few other “enlightened” teachers. But, ultimately, I realized from inner and outer experience that incarnation is limitation, and that however evolved an incarnate being may be s/he is fallible; that here on Earth, where we experience life in apparent physical bodies, human fallibility ‘goes with the territory’ – that “to err is human”.

With that realization, I ceased projecting “perfection” onto individuals and began relying on inner – not outer – authority. No longer a “born-again Hindu” I became, and remain, an “Uncertain Undue” , seeking relief from belief.

My devotional motto became, and remains:

“Adoration of the Infinite; not adulation of the incarnate”.

And I wrote The Law of Flaw, a poem beginning with these verses:

All people are flawed;

none are perfect.

But the most flawed,

are those who think or claim they’re perfect.


In reading the seemingly contradictory above quotes about perfection please remember that in this impermanent world of relativity and duality words often point paradoxically or metaphorically to Eternal truth, which is ineffable. So

“The truest sayings are paradoxical.”
~ Lao Tzu

 
Whether or not we may agree that “perfection is a state in which things are the way they are, and are not the way they are not”,  I hope this perfection definition helps you – as it helped me – find inner peace and happiness by emotionally accepting “what is” NOW, because it could not be otherwise. 

But let us remember that emotionally accepting the present moment need not deter us from questioning or nonviolently resisting – like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi – pervasive suffering and injustice caused by human ignorance and greed, while envisioning our evolutionary transcendence thereof. 

And so may it be!

Ron Rattner