The Way of Perfection carries the message that the lives we lead and the world we lead them in are all perfect, in every respect. This is called the “perfection view.”
The perfection view is not limited to just parts of our lives or parts of this world nor does it have in mind a future perfectibility. It holds that perfection was the nature of creation from the outset and remains fully present in us and everything else.
This is certainly not a mainstream view, at least not yet. Ordinary consciousness tends to focus on differences. The news focuses on conflict between people and their groups; art focuses on the conflict between colors and shapes, or sounds. Our sensory apparatus is naturally attracted by sensation.
Though seldom recognized, perfection is not hidden from our view. It underlies the activities of our lives, forming the field within which all sensations take place. There everything is working smoothly, all parts fit together with exquisite ease, work together effortlessly and create for us this magical realm we call our lives, in which we can imagine or fantasize anything we want.
The perfection view, as you will see, is not naïve, not utopian. It is grounded in the same reality we all share. It offers itself to you as a possible alternate or addition to your world-view. Perfection is a powerful world-view because it transcends daily life while including it. As an attitude it offers a quite useful balance into which everything fits and which is therefore durable and dependable.
Perfection, the Word
Because the perfection view is going to reveal itself in language, it first wishes to attend to the meaning of its name.There is, to start with, a culturally popular understanding of perfection as a state that is without blemish or defect. All other states become, by definition, imperfect. In order to qualify as perfect under this thinking, a thing would have to be flawless, absolutely complete, and unchanging. But as you can see, this definition of perfection automatically excludes anything human along with virtually everything else, all of which is constantly changing.
Perfection from this point of view is a theological conception, an idea of fixed completion that describes an idea of deity but excludes us and our lives. There is wide agreement in our culture that “nothing is perfect, ” and when you look at perfection this way, that is true. Nothing that actually exists could qualify.
The perfection view focuses instead on what might be called “working perfection.” Our Funk & Wagnall defines perfection as a condition that is “thoroughly effectual, meeting the requirements of the occasion.” Or, as the Encarta definition on our Macintosh has it: “the quality of something that is as good or suitable as it can possibly be.” This way of looking at perfection does not imply a completed, unchanging state but one that has hope in it, that is flexible and adaptable, living and growing.
The perfection view is that all of creation works perfectly in this way, as suitable as it could possibly be, always meeting all requirements of its purpose. Of course, this means we must inquire into purpose: we can only measure how well creation is doing if we know what it is doing.
The Purpose of Creation
Any purpose that could be ascribed to creation would have had to be present at its beginning. The Hindu tradition says it all started when God uttered the sound: “aum.” Our science likens it to a big bang. Purpose would have had to be present at the first emanation, whatever it sounded like, and would indeed have had to be present just before the emanation took place.
We can’t go back and find out, but we do know that all of creation emerged at once, so whatever the purpose of that first sound is or was, it has to include all of creation. That purpose therefore won’t be found by selecting out parts of creation to contrast with other parts. The purpose of creation will not itself be dual; it is not going to be the opposite of anything or a part of anything.
Let’s consider how that big bang became us. Whatever it may have been that exploded, energy spewed forth, outward in all directions, all at once. This released energy flew in an apparently chaotic manner, but as we now know there was more to it than that. Complex energy patterns were present, patterns that repel and other patterns that attract; somehow these patterns induced those out-rushing energies to abandon their trajectories and join together with other energies to form the hard stuff we call matter. Galaxies and stars and planets all derived from that initial energy, as did biology and us.
The way energy translates itself into form is by slowing down; energies drawn together coalesce into tiny particles. These are atoms, the basic building blocks of the physical world. They are mostly empty and they spin, they form orbits together and create molecules that are also mostly empty. Our hard physical world and its contents consist of constantly rotating little particles made of energy, orbiting together in spaces of their own. From atoms on up it’s all constructed like a galaxy, a lot of comparatively small objects orbiting around in a huge emptiness.
When humans think of purpose, we like to think in linear terms, starting somewhere and going from there to a conclusion. We like a purpose with a beginning, a function to fill, and a result. But it is apparent that this is not the way of fundamental creation, where the way things work is by spinning around each other, no part of it moving in straight lines. Whatever the purpose of this creation, it won’t be found in a linear concept. It won’t be a goal such as evolution or the attainment of an ideal state or anything like that. Those are nice thoughts, and worth working for, but they are comparative, dual in their nature, and do not include everything.
For any definition of creation’s purpose then, we are going to have to look at the result to find the cause. Suppose we posit that what the big bang produced tells us to what it intended. What has it produced? Everything. So the perfection view is that the purpose of the big bang was creation, all of it. The whole of creation comes with no discernable independent direction or goal, no purpose that starts, accomplishes something, and ends. The perfection view takes this to mean that existence is its own purpose. The purpose of the big bang was to create, and the purpose of that creation is to exist.
Now we individual humans are within creation, not outside it, and so we can create human linear sorts of purposes to our hearts’ content. Indeed we do; hardly a home or a psyche is without its store of them.
Is there an overall purpose though, one for all of humanity? That is a question much argued over in religions and philosophy and wars, with proposals that all have one thing in common – they favor some part over some other part. But partial answers can only describe a part. As with creation, any real purpose for all of humanity will have to include all of humanity. And since once again we cannot go back to the beginning of humanity to learn why, we need to look at the whole of humanity to gauge its purpose.
What about the whole of humanity? We all have bodies, sensory apparatus, we develop the ability to observe ourselves, we have parents and are born young and die older. Where we vary from each other is in the kinds of experience we have, not only what we experience outside us but what we experience inside ourselves as well. The bewildering variety of experiences need not blind us to their underlying unity; they are all experiences.
We may not comprehend what is behind creation but we know what to do with it – we experience it. Experience is what humans do and appear to be designed for; it is apparently innate in human existence. And so, in the perfection view, the purpose of all humanity is experience – simple experience, not necessarily of one kind or another. The quality or nature of the experience is up to the individual.
That brings us to the question whether this purpose is carried out perfectly. How suited is this creation for being experienced? And how suited are humans to experience it? Creation provides conditions – which are referred to here as “illusions” – within which humans design their own experiences.
Perfection and the Three Levels of Illusion
Many ancient spiritual teachings hammered away at the illusory nature of our lives and worlds. Because they are illusions, the teachings say, they are impermanent and therefore unreal and have no importance. They are to be overcome. This is a perfectly valid view and has lots of adherents to this day, but it leaves a sour taste. What are we doing here in a useless world? What point was there in creating this world when all we are supposed to do with it is get out?
Suppose we looked at these illusions instead as useful, as if they were gifts imbued with the perfection of the field out of which they emerge? This is the way the perfection view begins. For ease of inquiry, the perfection view divides the illusory realm into three levels:
Creation as Illusion
It is no secret that what we call matter is actually energy. Even though we know that it is made up almost entirely of emptiness, we experience it as solid. Matter looks and feels real, responds to our measuring devices and obeys some of our mathematics. It is dependable, and so there is widespread agreement among humans that matter is actually “there.”
But as scientific inquiry delves down smaller and smaller, deep into what is going on inside the atomic structure of matter, we find that matter changes as we look at it. Near the interface between energy and matter the dependable nature of matter disappears and becomes movable and flexible, not bound by physical laws, more like intelligent energy.
As we approach this interface where matter isn’t really matter, we begin to see part of what those ancients were trying to tell us: our solid world isn’t solid at all; it’s all made of moving particles (themselves made of energy) posing as dependable form. It is such a clever illusion that almost every human accepts it as real no matter how much science knows about its true nature.
Is it fair to call this physical world illusory? Humans appear to have been perfectly evolved to experience it as firm and real. Still, we know it is not and so in the perfection view it is the first level of illusion.
This is a very benign level of illusion. It gives us bodies and biology and therefore what we call “life.” Into it we are born and have our existence as humans. It is the field within which all human existence takes place. There is nothing here that chooses some aspects of itself over others or otherwise results in harm. It is neutral and scrupulously fair. This first level of illusion qualifies as “thoroughly effectual, meeting the requirements of the occasion.” In the perfection view, it is perfect for its purpose.
One of the worldwide things we as humans do upon awakening in this first level of illusion is to identify ourselves, and this brings us to the second level of illusion.
Identity as Illusion
It is one of those attributes of creation that none of it comes in its completed state. Everything begins, from seed/soil or sperm/egg or the rubbing of tectonic plates, and from that beginning, develops. That includes humans. We do start out each life as male or female, our parentage and race are established and we are older or younger than our siblings. This is our framework, our starting identity. As we grow we select traits and attitudes that suit us and reject those that do not. We like or do not like ourselves. We develop personality and distinctness from those around us.
We create this identity during our lifetimes and we do not take it with us when we go. It is a worldly thing, a rich and valuable experience, but ephemeral. And, being essentially imagined by us, is yet another level of illusion.
Our human desires diverge at this level of the illusory realms, and we develop ourseparate selves and our separate stories. We select our general attitudes and within them develop opinions, sometimes held firmly as what we call beliefs. Here we appreciate a nice thing, can be delighted by the beauty of a flower, distraught by what looks like an accident or an injury. Here we get to feel separate, to develop our own unique self.
Each of us is living a separate identity and we react to the things life brings us individually, and often quite differently, from each other. Where there was widespread agreement on the nature of the physical world in the first level of illusion, here in the second level of identity that agreement separates out into individual points of view. The dependable material forms here begin to produce very different feelings and reactions (realities) in the humans who are experiencing them. The experience at this level becomes personal and much more vivid.
At this level, the nature of the life experience for each individual depends on what that individual is paying attention to. Thus to some it is a “dog-eat-dog world out there” while at the same time to others it is so safe it is boring. If we look about hesitantly we will quickly find many unsettling conditions warranting hesitation. If we hunger for change the present may become painful. If we are impatient, those who move more slowly become obstacles; if we lag we are prodded along. We set the speed and get quite varied experiences. We can dramatically alter any experience by liking it or not liking it. Serenity is an option, but it reduces the experiencing.
Our identity is a lens through which we look at life and so of the way life is going to look to us. Our identity guides our selection of experiences and how we will feel about them. In the realms of identity, our idea of “objective reality” is so colored and shaped and selected by our identity choices that creation essentially amounts to a projection of ourselves, a mirror. We have programmed ourselves to find ourselves wherever we look.
Others may have their opinions about your identity, and some may try to influence you, but no one has the power to decide for you who you are. Because we operate with free will, our identity is to be worked out by ourselves. We do it primarily by choosing: Every one of us looks outward to a physical world and inward to mind realms that offer vastly more experiences than could be selected in any lifetime. Choices are made from what is offered. Out of all the experiences that result, only a few are chosen to “matter”– to be added to our personal story of what matters to us. We are the ones who do the choosing.
Look at the perfection behind all this. Our “life” that each of us separately leads seems utterly real, and yet most of it is just a reflection of what we project on it. We live here on one planet with one style of matter, and within it billions of humans can each find their own place and story, creating these out of themselves. This illusion creates vast realms for experience without any cost in resources. The perfection view considers this level of illusion as perfect for its purpose.
These two levels of our illusions appear to be harmless. The physical world is simply there, and identities are unlimited. No conflict is built in to this. There is no shortage, no opening for harm. This could still be paradise.
There is still one more layer of the illusion, however; a powerful, entrancing layer,which we can, if we dare, enter. In it lies fear with its brand new possibility of negative inner states; it is an independent realm of exciting possibilities.
Fear as Illusion
Everyone will encounter fear and so it is useful to have some understanding of it. The language of our culture doesn’t help much. We have no alternate word, for example, to differentiate between a biological reaction to a real threat on the one hand and, on the other hand, to some mental trembling at what may happen to us tomorrow.
When a threat to our biological existence presents itself in real time, our whole being reacts. Adrenaline is pumped into the system; all senses go on alert. We are charged with energy and ready to fly or defend. Everything about our reaction is designed to protect us. Biologically speaking, this is a very healthy reaction.
Our language refers to that as “fear” but uses the same word to describe feelings projected out into time and space, worry about something that may happen in the future, guilt at what we have done in the past; that is to say, fear-like concerns over things not actually happening right now.
There is a vast difference between these two. True fear is built in to the biological nature of all complex living creatures. But the inner state of projected apprehension over conditions in some other time or some other space (that is, in our imaginations) provides no biological benefits and is apparently unique to humans. It is an illusory state that looks and feels like real fear but is really just imitating it. For want of a better term, we will refer to it as “projected fear.”
Projected fear is an illusion of very expansive dimensions. The world can now not only appear to be outside us and other than us, but if we look at it with our new identities and through a lens of projected fear, it can now possibly hurt us. It becomes risky, a world we need to be on guard about, careful. It can even take on a sinister quality. Other people may not be our friends. We may feel the need to protect ourselves, to develop abilities to deceive or defend. We might invent the idea of power as a way to offset the dangers.
The possibilities for experience here in the realm of projected fear extend way beyond the biological call for attentiveness and caution. Projected fear can add intensity to every meeting, excitement to what might be around the next corner. Projected fear can make a significant event out of what might otherwise be dismissed. The experience potential of everyday life is deepened and enhanced profoundly, because with projected fear everything might really mean something.
This third level of illusion is effective at providing zest to the mundane, but it doesn’t come cheap. Projected fear is the creative basis for all emotional negativity. Without projected fear, there is no shame, no guilt, no blame, no resentment. Envy cannot exist without it, nor jealousy. Projected fear is the essential building block of all negative states of mind. Among its progeny are those all-time winners in experiential intensity: hate and war.
Stated another way, without projected fear, none of these experiences would be available. As unfortunate as they may seem to the peaceful potential of human life, negative mind states are an included part of the third level of illusion. And since it is perfection that is being unveiled here it may be appropriate to mention that these negative experiences have proved to be very popular. There are always plenty of volunteers to explore them, even to leap in and live them as if they were real.
This good-and-evil level of illusion is a real experience generator. But as we are beginning to see in our culture and lives, overindulgence in its excitements appears to carry health risks. Like true fear, projected fear arouses in us chemical and nervous system conditions appropriate to immediate action. But here, where the fear is projected elsewhere and nothing can be done immediately, these conditions have nowhere to go and can’t be acted out. The energy stirs us up and then just sits there. Stress naturally emerges bringing its progeny of ill health.
Still, let us be clear: Stress provides its own experiences, as does ill health. Many of us humans find them quite consuming. It is valuable to remember the illusory nature of projected fear: Though it can look and feel as real as real fear, it is merely a projection of our own out into time and space, where only our ideas really exist. It is not required by survival nor, because it shortens our lives, does it appear to further the survival of our species.
Projected fear is the realm of excitement; when one has had sufficient excitement of that kind, it is perfectly possible to depart from that realm and live happily ever after in the nonjudgmental levels. Still, the illusion of good and evil is so enticing (it is such a real illusion) that we can forget it is entirely voluntary, we can forget how we got there and how to get out. Part II, the View from the Garden, takes this up in detail. It examines the gateway to the realm of judgment and projected fear, how we get in and how we get out.
The Way Illusions Work
We are here as humans to experience, and illusions are here to help us do that. They have certain operating procedures.
It is in the nature of all illusion, at any level, that in order to enter the illusion we surrender clarity and awareness in return for drama and intensity. It is an individual process, each of us aiming for the level of experience that attracts us. In general it is a fair formula: The more intensely we want to experience, the more profoundly we must believe the illusion. We remove our attention from the larger picture, the context in which the illusion is taking place, in order to make the illusion seem real.
Looking at this from the other direction, the more real an illusion seems to us, the less awareness we will have of the larger context in which it is taking place. The process in each of us is partly conscious and partly not, but one way or the other we decide how far in we want to go. Illusions are by subscription only; they work only as long as we buy in.
How do illusions rate as experience enhancers? You might say that illusions are miraculous; they are certainly magical; at each level illusion creates a reality out ofnothing. They are one of our main tools to regulate the kind and degree of experience we want to have, and they are free and voluntary.
And so we see, behind all levels of illusion, the perfection. It is shining through every appearance, shining through every human condition, bringing experience that, whether you love it or hate it, was drawn by your attraction and is for your edification. Each of us calls our experience to us; we cannot but have our destiny.
The Perfection behind it All
It is probably apparent by now that the Way of Perfection is not focused on the eternal struggle between good and evil. It is concerned instead with the context, the realm within which these things play out their roles. That realm is created in perfection, so, for the Way, the inquiry is to follow that perfection out into the daily experience of creation.
Suppose that you are viewing your outer and inner reality from the perfection view? This is the way things would look: Everyone and everything outside you and inside you is right. This is a right that is not the opposite of wrong. All are innocent. Neither you nor anyone else has ever committed an actual wrong because there is no such thing. Sin, if anything, is simple ignorance of the whole. Judgments we might harbor constitute burdens we are carrying around to no purpose.
Your experiences are your own, and so they are perfect for you. Your life is your own creation. In perfection everything fits. And if a particular part of your life has trouble in it, then that is within perfection, suited for your own particular experience in this life. Experiences that involve trouble are particularly memorable and often bring important messages for us.
In the view from perfection the nature of everything is perfect and there is nothing to blame; since there is no blame, there is no guilt. Things are as they are and we are free to want them to be some other way. You are free to be who you are, and everyone else is free to be who they are. There are consequences to every act. Society is free to regulate behavior for the common good.
In other words, the perfection view doesn’t change anything on the outside. It is the way we look at it that changes. From perfection it is unnecessary to judge things. We have accepted everything on the outside and on our inside as being as they are: right, not the opposite of wrong. This does not mean we have acquiesced in injustice. We accept that a condition is as it is and resist it if we will. In perfection we continue to be concerned and to seek betterment. It’s just that we no longer need to find anything wrong in order to resist it or change it. Things are as they are; we are as we are.
It is very important to each of us how we look at the world because the way we look at it is the way it is going to be for us. There isn’t any official way to look at the world or any right way or wrong way. There are a lot of ways to look at the world and a lot of different results for each.
The perfection view is being offered to you as a perfectly plausible way to look at the world. It comes from a place deeper than the duality of life and its practice can provide you with a very pleasant and illuminating attitude. It is the nature of the Way that if you will begin looking for perfection it will begin to show itself to you. If you allow yourself to see all of it, it will all be there.
Rick Schulze, Kamuela, Hawaii 2006
For the complete book on Perfection, download this PDF from the link below.