There is a distinct possibility that it will not be “perfect” –
But that is the topic of the sermon,
– no, not my first time – we won’t go into that – no
… but it not being “perfect”.
Last week, some of us were having a conversation during which “perfectionism” came up. Of course, we are dedicated to growth through the Force, and so this “perfectionism” is seen as something to be overcome. Well, how do we think we might do that ? To “work harder” on being less “perfectionist” is probably not the best path to choose … it would just become another thing to do “perfectly”.
The chief cause of ‘Perfectionism’ is when one’s self-esteem becomes based on the approval of others with regard to how good or how much one can accomplish. It is characterised also by sensitivity to criticism. Thus, striving for perfection becomes much less working toward success and more a defence mechanism. It becomes a part of the ego’s game, something used to protect that sense of self which is not Self.
How often have we felt that something we’ve done isn’t quite good enough ?
How often have we put off doing something, or showing what we’ve done, waiting to get it “just right” ?
How many times do we approach something, perhaps even grudgingly, feeling that it requires Herculean effort or more so that we won’t feel ‘ordinary’ or even a ‘failure’ ?
Tao Te Ching 13 :
Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear. What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance. What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear? See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.
This is not to say that we should do things sloppily ; but it reminds us to be realistic. ‘Perfectionism’ tends toward black and/or white thinking (remember the Game of Black and White ?) It is a variety of thinking in absolutes. “Imperfection equals failure.”
No, it doesn’t. It means we’re human – and that is about as perfect as it can be.
From the 16 Teachings, we know that :
5. Jedi understand that well-being consists in the physical, the mental and the spiritual. A Jedi trains each to ensure they remain capable of performing their duties to the best of their ability. All of these are interconnected and essential parts of our training in becoming more harmonious with the Force.
The Force made us as we are. We are Jedi, not angels … we train to be better, but perfection will always be a little out of our reach. That lets us be capable of Love …
6. Jedi use their skills to the best of their ability. We do not use our knowledge and skill to boast or be prideful. We are mindful of the ego and mindful of our actions, exercising wisdom and humility.
The “best of our ability” includes setting realistic goals, allowing some imperfections to remain (for there will be regardless of our perfectionism) and learning to fall on our faces sometimes without believing that universal Armageddon will ensue. It is only a trick of our ego that makes us feel that a ‘failure’ would result in total devastation.
7. Jedi understand their limitations. We recognise, and take responsibility, for our failures and develop a level of modesty about them. We respect the right for others to disagree and understand that they themselves are not perfect.
Let’s remember that some valuable lessons can only be learnt by making mistakes. We gain a lot of experience from errors, from recognising them and taking responsibility for them. The ability to move through vulnerability requires courage and faith, both issuing from the Force, and vulnerability is also the source of creativity, innovation and change.
So, with firm faith that we are expressions of the Force just as we are, and in the measure that our Hero’s Journey takes us through ordeals that show us just how vulnerable we are, we may keenly feel what we mean by the recitation of our Creed, thus please repeat with me :
I am a Jedi, an instrument of peace;
Where there is hatred I shall bring love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
I am a Jedi.
I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The Force is with me always, for I am a Jedi.
And can be an “imperfect” one …
For some additional inspiration offered from education, experience and with humour, one may like to listen to Brené Brown, speaking at TED :
15 juillet 2013