“Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away, when a body has been stripped down to its nakedness.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There are many authors in the field of spiritual teaching that I follow. One is, Dennis Merritt Jones. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to attend one of his talks on Imperfection. This month’s article is my takeaway from Dennis’ talk.
There is an old fable about a brilliant master artist working on his masterpiece, a statue of David. An onlooker asked the gifted artist, “How will you ever create the perfection you seek from this slab of crude marble?” The master artist replied, “I have to add nothing because the perfection is already there, in the subject I carve. All I must do is remove the unnecessary pieces.” I don’t know the source of this ancient and often told story, or even if it is true, but doesn’t it make a point?
Most of us believe that something is missing and that when we find it and add it, then we will arrive at perfection. The truth of the matter is sort of a dichotomy; when we blend our spiritual reality with our humanness, we discover that we are perfectly imperfect!
The perfection of God already lies within us. We were born of perfection. Spiritually speaking of course, that makes us perfect just the way we are. Our perceived imperfections are just that my friend — ours. Humanly speaking, we will never be perfect because we continue to judge ourselves as imperfect beings — flawed. Our tendency is to want to hide our perceived flaws from the world by covering them up with what we think the world will approve.
As an example, when it comes to seeking perfection, we could say that I am a professional with years of training and experience in my field, and may consider myself as one of the finest on the planet. However, what I have learned is that perfectionism is something that consumes an incredible amount of energy. Many perfectionists are not aware of how much this obsession runs, or perhaps, ruins our life. We are so busy trying to make everything and every one perfect that we lose touch with the moment at hand. Perfectionism stems from a need to control. So we say, what do perfectionists need to control? The answer is other people and other people’s opinions of ourselves.
The mindset is that if only I can cover up my flaws, they won’t notice and I will be able to persuade other people that I am really all right — that I am enough. So we put up this personal facade which looks good (we think) to the world, while never concluding that indeed we are enough just the way we are.
It may take time to remove the unnecessary pieces — the material gains, the glitz and glamour, the human facades, and then and only then we will clearly see the true self. Our life is really about subtraction and not addition; there is nothing we need to add to who we are to know that we are enough. The only flaw we may have is the mistaken idea that there is something more we must get, gain, buy, and take possession of, to be okay. The truth is, you and I are enough because we are the manifestation of the divine.
That said, as long as we focus on self-renewal and re-emergence, it’s not that we have something we need to cover up but rather that we have something to reveal and share with the world — our life is a journey of learning and evolving. Evolving to love ourselves first and then extending that love to others in every encounter. Once we embody this truth, we will see that we are perfectly imperfect — warts and all! There is no time like the present to let go of your need to control. Release your attachment to needing the approval of the world. No matter what we do or say, there will always be someone who may not agree. Just know you are enough.