Osho on Imperfection

Question – Beloved Osho, In this phase of your work, are you giving the final touch to the painting of your whole life, for the transformation of the new human being?

Osho – My work is not like a painter’s work. It is not that I can complete the painting; it is one long painting. And I will be giving touches to the painting even when I am breathing my last — still, the painting will be incomplete. In life, only mad people ask for perfection. The perfectionist is another name for someone who is getting ready to become mad.

I was a guest in a maharaja’s palace, and the maharaja was showing me around — it was a beautiful palace. At a certain place he stopped and he said, “Do you see?” There was a wall, incomplete.
I said, “Why have you left it incomplete?”

He said, “The palace was made by my grandfather, and this is the tradition in our family that nothing should be made perfect. Some imperfection should be left so that the coming generation remembers that life does not allow perfection.”

Imperfection is not something bad. Imperfection is the root of all growth; perfection can only be death. Once something is perfect it is dead.

The painting that I have started will remain imperfect — although I will go on trying to make it perfect, but it is the very nature of existence that it cannot be perfect. And it is not my painting.

Those who are with me… it is as much their painting too. When I am gone, you have to continue to paint it. The painting has to go on growing new flowers, new foliage. Don’t let it be dead at any point. In other words, don’t let it become perfect.

Make every effort to make it perfect, but don’t let it become perfect. Then there is tremendous beauty, and always flowing and growing, and there comes no full-stop. In life we are always in the middle.

You don’t know the beginning of life, you don’t know the end of life. We are always in the middle and everybody has been always in the middle. It is a process, an ongoing process, a river that goes on flowing. That’s the beauty of it, that’s the glory of it. And not only with the painting — with everything, remember it. Accept that imperfection is the rule, that something becomes perfect only when its death has come.

To ask for perfection is to ask for death. Death is the full-stop.
In life you can use commas, semi-colons, but never a full-stop.

In one of the poems of Rabindranath Tagore… the critics all over the world criticized it because it suddenly begins and it suddenly ends; there is no beginning and no end. It seems as if it is a middle portion — something in the beginning is missing, something in the end is missing.

And Rabindranath was asked, “You have been criticized but why are you silent?”
He said, “Those people don’t understand life. Life is always in the middle, and my poetry represents life. Out of nowhere it begins, and suddenly it disappears and evaporates without giving you the feeling of completion.”

But mind is a perfectionist. Hence the mind always feels uneasy with the heart, with love, with life, with meditation, with beauty. With everything that grows, mind is always feeling uneasy. It is perfectly at ease with machines; they are complete. Machines are perfect.

To me, imperfection is not something to be condemned; it is something to be rejoiced in, something to be appreciated — because it is the principle of life itself.

Source – Osho Book “Beyond Enlightenment”

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