Osho on Ideals and Perfection

Question : The other day i took a piece of paper and did a little doodling or free writing, and i was pained to find that i was full of self-condemnation and self-pity. I had not a nice word for me in that long note. Is it that i am too idealistic and self-centred and is there a way out of this darkness?

Osho : Everybody is brought up in such a way that everybody has become idealistic. Nobody is realistic. The ideal is the common disease of humanity. Everybody is brought up in such a way that everybody goes on thinking that they have to be something, somebody, somewhere in the future. An image is given and you have to be like it. That gives you a tension because you are not it, you are something else, yet you have to be it.

So one goes on condemning the real for the unreal — the unreal is unreal. And the ideal goes on pulling you towards the future, out of the present. The ideal becomes a constant nightmare because it goes on condemning. Whatsoever you do is imperfect because you have an ideal of perfection. Whatsoever you attain is still not fulfilling because you have a mad expectation which can never be satisfied.

You are human, in a certain time, in a certain space, with certain limitations. Accept those limitations. Perfectionists are always on the brink of madness. They are obsessed people — whatsoever they do is not good enough. And there is no way to do something perfectly — perfection is not humanly possible. In fact, imperfect is the only way to be.

So what do I teach you here? I don’t teach you perfection, I teach you wholeness. That is a totally different thing. Be whole. Don’t bother about perfection. When I say be whole, I mean be real, be here; whatsoever you do, do it totally. You will be imperfect but your imperfection will be full of beauty, it will be full of your totality.

Never try to be perfect otherwise you will create much anxiety. So many troubles are there already; don’t create more troubles for yourself.

I have heard. It happened that bedraggled, worried Garfinkel sat in a train holding a three-year-old boy. Every few minutes Garfinkel spanked the child.
‘If you strike that baby one more time,’ said a woman sitting across from him, ‘I’ll give you so much trouble you won’t forget it!’
‘Trouble?’ said Garfinkel. ‘You’re gonna give me trouble? Lady, my partner stole all my money and ran off with my wife and car. My daughter is in the parlor car, six months pregnant, and she ain’t got no husband. My baggage is lost, I’m on the wrong train, and this little stinker just ate the tickets and threw up all over me. And lady, YOU’RE gonna give me trouble?’

Now what more trouble can there be? Don’t you think enough is enough? Life itself is so complicated, please be a little more kinder towards yourself. Don’t create ideals. Life is creating enough problems but those problems can be solved. If you are in a wrong train you can change the train; if the tickets are lost, they can be purchased again; if your wife has run away, you can find another woman. The problems that life gives to you can be solved but the problems that idealism gives to you can never be solved — they are impossible.

Somebody is trying to become Jesus…. Now there is no way; it does not happen that way, nature does not allow it. Jesus happens only once, and only once; nature does not tolerate any repetition. Somebody is trying to become a Buddha — now he is trying to do the impossible. It simply does not happen, cannot happen; it is against nature. You can be only yourself. So be total. Wherever you are and whatsoever you are doing, do it totally. Move into it, let it become your meditation. Don’t be worried whether it will be perfect or not — it is not going to be perfect. If it is total it is enough. If it was total you enjoyed doing it, you felt a fulfillment through it, you moved into it, you were absorbed into it, you came out of it new, fresh, young, rejuvenated.

Each act that is done totally rejuvenates, and each act that is done totally never brings any bondage. Love totally and attachment does not arise; love partially and attachment arises. Live totally and you are not afraid of death; live partially and you are afraid of death.

But forget the word ‘perfection’. It is one of the most criminal words. This word should be dropped from all the languages of the world, it should be dropped from the human mind. Nobody has ever been perfect and nobody can ever be. Can’t you see it? Even if God is there and you come to meet him, can’t you find faults with his creation? So many, that’s why he is hiding. He is almost afraid of you. Faults and faults and faults. Can you count them? Infinite faults you will find. In fact, if you are a fault-finder you cannot find anything right — in the right time, in the right place. Everything seems to be just a mess. Even God is not perfect; God is total. He enjoyed doing it, he is still enjoying doing it. But he is not perfect.

If he were perfect then the creation could not be imperfect. Out of perfection, perfection will come. All the religions of the world say that God is perfect. I don’t say so. I say God is whole, God is holy, God is total — but not perfect. Although he may still be trying…. How can he be perfect? If he were, the world would be dead by now. Once something is perfect, death happens because there is no future, there is no way. Trees are still growing, babies are still born — things continue. And he goes on improving. Can’t you see the improvement? He goes on improving on everything. That’s the meaning of evolution: things are being improved. Monkeys have become man — that’s an improvement. Then man will become Divine and God — that is evolution.

Teilhard de Chardin says there is an omega point where everything will become perfect. There is none. There is no omega point. There cannot be. The world is always in the process; evolution is there; we are approaching and approaching but we never reach because once we reach — finished. God still goes on trying in different ways, improving.

One thing is certain: he is happy with his work otherwise he would have abandoned it. He is still pouring his energy into it. When God is happy with you it is sheer nonsense to be unhappy with yourself. Be happy with yourself. Let happiness be the ultimate value. I am a hedonist. Always remember that happiness is the criterion. Whatsoever you do, be happy, that’s all. Don’t be bothered whether it is perfect or not.

Why this obsession with perfection? Then you will be tense, anxious, nervous, always uneasy, troubled, in conflict. The English word ‘agony’ comes from a root which means: to be in conflict. To be constantly wrestling with oneself — that is the meaning of agony. You will be in agony if you are not at ease with yourself. Don’t demand the impossible, be natural, at ease, loving yourself, loving others.

And remember, a person who cannot love himself because he goes on condemning, cannot love anybody else either. A perfectionist is not only a perfectionist about himself, he is about others also. A man who is hard on himself is bound to be hard on others. His demands are impossible.

In India just a few years before, there was Mahatma Gandhi, a perfectionist, almost a neurotic. And he was very hard with his disciples — even tea was not allowed. Teal Because it has nicotine. If somebody was found drinking tea in his ashram it was a great sin. Love was not allowed. If somebody fell in love with somebody it was such a great sin that it was as if the whole world was going to be drowned because of it. He was continuously spying on his disciples, always sitting at the keyhole. But he was that way with himself. You can be with others only as you are with yourself.

But these types of people become great leaders because they create much guilt in others. The more guilt you can create in people, the greater the leader you can become. Because more and more people feel that yes, you can help them to become perfect. They are imperfect so you can help them to become perfect.

I am not here to help you to become perfect; I am not concerned with any sort of nonsense. I am just here to help you to be yourself. If you are imperfect, beautiful; if you are perfect, that too is beautiful. Don’t try to become imperfect because that can become an ideal! You may be perfect already — then listening to me can create a trouble for yourself! This man says be imperfect! There is no need. If you are perfect accept that too! Try to love yourself. Don’t condemn. Once humanity starts a deep acceptance, all churches will disappear and all politicians and priests will disappear.

I have heard. A man was fishing in the North Woods and one night around the campfire his guide was telling him of the time he had guided Harry Emerson Fosdick on a fishing trip.
‘Yes,’ said the guide, ‘he was a good man except for his swearing.’
‘But look,’ said the fisherman, ‘surely you don’t mean to say that Dr. Fosdick was profane?’
‘Oh, but he was, sir,’ protested the guide. ‘Once he caught a fine bass. Just as he was about to land him in the boat, the fish wiggled off the hook. So I say to the Doctor, “That’s a damned shame!” and the Doc comes right back and says, “Yes, it is!” But that’s the only time I ever heard him use such language.’

Now this is the mind of a perfectionist. The Doctor has not said anything. He simply says,’Yes, it is.’ But that too is enough for a perfectionist to find fault with.

A perfectionist is neurotic. And not only is he neurotic, he creates neurotic trends around him. So don’t be a perfectionist, and if somebody is a perfectionist around you escape away from him as fast as you can before he pollutes your mind.

All perfectionism is a sort of deep ego trip. Just to think of yourself in terms of ideals and perfection is nothing but to decorate your ego to its uttermost. A humble person accepts that life is not perfect. A humble person, a really religious person, accepts that we are limited, that there are limitations. Look… that is my definition of humbleness. Not to try to be perfect is to be humble.

And a humble person becomes more and more total because he has nothing to deny, nothing to reject. He accepts whatsoever he is, good, bad. And a humble person is very rich because he accepts his wholeness; his anger, his sex, his greed — everything is accepted. In that deep acceptance a great alchemical change happens. All that is ugly by and by disappears on its own accord. He becomes more and more harmonious, more and more whole.

I am not in favour of a saint but I am in favour of a holy man. A saint is a perfectionist; a holy man is totally different. Zen Masters are holy men; Catholic saints are saints. The very word ‘saint’ is ugly. It comes from ‘sanctos’ — one who has been given sanction by the authority that he is a saint. Now who can authorise anybody to be a saint? Is it a sort of degree? But the Christian Church goes on doing that foolish thing.

Even posthumous degrees are awarded. A saint may have died three hundred years before, then the Church revises its ideas, or the world has changed, and after three hundred years the Church gives a posthumous degree — a sanction that that man was really a saint, we could not understand him at the time. And the church may have killed that man — that’s how Joan of Arc became a saint. They killed her, but later on they changed their idea. People by and by came closer and closer to Joan of Arc and it became difficult not to accept her. First they killed her, then they worshipped her. After hundreds of years, her bones were found and worshipped. She was burned by the same people, the same Church. No, the word ‘saint’ is not good. A holy man is a holy man because of himself, not because some church decides to award him sainthood.

I have heard. Jacobson, aged ninety, had lived through beatings in Polish pogroms, concentration camps in Germany, and dozens of other anti-Semitic experiences.
‘Oh, Lord!’ he prayed, sitting in a synagogue. ‘Isn’t it true that we are your chosen people?’
And from the heavens boomed a voice:’Yes, Jacobson, the Jews are my chosen people!’
‘Well, then,’ wailed the old man,’isn’t it time you chose somebody else?’

Perfectionists are the chosen people of God, remember. In fact, the day you understand that you are creating your own misery because of your ideas, you break all ideas. Then you simply live out of your reality — whatsoever it is. That is a great transformation. So don’t try to be chosen people of God, just be human. For God’s sake, just be human!

Source – Osho Book “Dang Dang Doko Dang”

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