You Are Perfect

January 13th, 2007

Perhaps the largest transformation we can experience in our lives is to realize that we are perfect, right now.

This is the opposite of what we’ve all been taught. Sure, we’re encouraged to have good self-esteem. But we’re also taught that life is about getting better and better. Otherwise what’s the use?

This belief – that we need to get better and better – is one of the strongest influences in our lives. If you don’t think that you hold to this belief, just ask yourself this question – if you had three wishes, is there anything you’d change in your life?

You’ll probably find, if you look clearly, that there are many things you’d change. Lose a little weight, have a little more money, be more understanding. Or maybe if you could just understand what this website is all about, then things would be better!

If you look at your life, you’ll soon find that all of your life energies are devoted to ‘making things better’. All of them! It’s a constant quest for improvement.

Every day, we wake up in the morning, apply all our energies toward this quest, and then collapse into bed at the end of the day, quite exhausted from the whole affair.

The humorous (or tragic?) thing about this is that the quest is never-ending. By the time we become financially independent, we’re in our thirties and smearing on the newest age-defying creams. In our forties we realize that we’ve been ignoring our dreams for the first half of our lives. In our fifties we’re wishing we hadn’t eaten all those trans fats and had exercised more because our bodies are getting creaky.

It goes on and on, and no matter what we achieve, there is always something else. And beneath all this is a secret, underlying message.

You’re not worthwhile unless you are making an effort at improving.

If I think I’m perfect, I’ll lose all ambition!

That’s right. You will. Because you’re thinking you’re perfect, which lets you rest on your laurels and cease to grow. But if you directly experience your perfect nature, you’ll find that you’ll actually have more energy to make positive changes in your life!

This is very important to understand. You see, our usual dualistic minds have already made ‘being perfect’ into another thing you can strive for.

This is how it will work – you’ll read this and decide that you really could be perfect, Right Now. You’ll feel very inspired. Then you’ll make an effort to remind yourself that you’re perfect, all the while knowing that in reality, you aren’t. The reality is that you have certain standards for yourself, and you rarely meet them. That’s why you have to apply so much effort to always ‘doing your best’.

Like many of the suggestions made by ‘self-help’ gurus, trying to be perfect will only set you up for more failure. In the end, most of us will give up on trying to believe we’re perfect. We tried, and the idea didn’t work. Ironically, this only reinforces the idea that we’re not perfect (we’re so screwed up that we can’t even realize that we’re perfect!). We’d actually have been better off if we never tried this whole thing in the first place!

This, unfortunately, is the sad reality with all the ‘methods’ out there to create a better, more spiritually developed ‘you’. They just play the old dualistic game – setting up expectations, and then getting disappointed when those expectations aren’t met.

So how is this any different?

The difference with non-dualism is that we’re not learning new things, or adopting new attitudes. What we’re actually after is a realization. This is a totally different sort of thing.

When we learn something new, we adopt it as a belief, and must now spend our energies trying to reinforce that belief.

A realization, however, is when we remember something that we ‘knew’ all along. Realizations aren’t very familiar to most of us, so it can be difficult to understand what the word means. But when you experience one, it’s plain as day.

You feel like – ‘Duh! I guess I knew that all along!’

Realizations don’t ask us for any additional energy or work. They simply add clarity to our current life situation.

Realizing You’re Perfect

All that is necessary to realize your perfection is Awareness. Usually, our mind-activity is on auto-pilot, and we are remarkably unaware of our motivations, underlying thoughts, and even most of our actions. We can go all day long without ever stopping and seeing what we’re doing. It never hurts to examine what you’re up to at any given moment, and to notice what you’re directing your energies toward.

Sometimes we can do this, and rationalize all our actions. Yes, I’m stressed out right now, but that’s because I’m trying to get all my work done so that I can enjoy my weekend!

We are free, of course, to do this all our lives. But we are also free to relish each and every moment we experience. All we have to do is start paying attention to what we’re doing, right Now.

Attention will show us that most of our actions are leading us toward more and more effort. We’re working harder and harder to get into situations where we will continue to work harder and harder. When we see things clearly, we’ll begin to realize the futility of it all, and eventually ‘give up’. Then a great weight will leave us.

This weight is the weight of all our efforts. Suddenly there is nothing we need to do – we see, for the first time, that this moment is perfect, and we are perfect in this moment. Our grasping and clinging leave us. And we find that all the energy we were using to constantly push ourselves with is now free – free to be used creatively. The book you’ve been trying to write suddenly becomes fun and exciting. The basement that you’ve been meaning to clean will become a creative endeavor. Your efforts toward enlightenment, or making more money, or being more compassionate – these will become easily achievable, because they are no longer goals. They are simply things you do because it will feel remarkably wonderful to do them.

Most of us go our entire lives pushing and pushing, trying to get more and more. All our lives we are full of Want and Desire. And all this time, we’re spending most of our energies going around in circles, instead of actually achieving our goals. Our desires defeat themselves!

By ceasing our efforts, we can make the best and easiest decision of our lives – to cease running in circles, and actually See What’s Going On. Stress and frustration leave us, because we’re no longer striving to improve. And all those running-around energies will be available for you to put to creative uses, making your old ‘goals’ much more easy to achieve!

A good place to start is to develop the ability to recognize when you’re on auto-pilot. Whenever you find yourself just plugging along, stop for a moment and pay attention to whatever you’re doing. You can also pay attention to your emotions. You can bet that whenever you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, you’re applying your energies toward running in circles.

It’s time to get off the treadmill, friends. Sit down somewhere and take a moment to just breathe. Then take a little time to examine what you’re applying your life energies to.

From there, it’s all Awareness.

3 Responses to “You Are Perfect”

  1. [...] Whitman presents You Are Perfect posted at kentonwhitman.com — Zen-Inspired Self [...]

  2. Kaushik says:

    Hi Kenton,

    Every one of your articles has a gem of wisdom, but this particular one deeply reverberates with me.

    I’ve been running around in circles most of my life. I realize this, and I don’t stop, but instead, I speed up to chase ideas and beliefs and methods about how to stop. I realize even this. Now what?

    Getting comfortable with emptiness, being aware without analyzing, releasing of effort and ideas…this is all good. But then, a fear, a doubt. What if this too is a subtle form of the same madness?

    kc

  3. Hello Kaushik,

    I think you sum up the situation quite succinctly here. The magic happens not when we stop chasing, but when the chasing becomes a dance in which we’re fully participating — ripe with humor, delighting in both pain and pleasure, and free of feeling that we need to ‘be somewhere else’. Thanks for your insight, kc!

    Sweetwater,
    Kenton

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