As an American, or perhaps as a Westerner, or perhaps as a White person, non-binary realities are difficult for me to accept. I have meditated and learned and experienced enough to believe that a thing and its opposite can both be true, but truly living that BothAnd-ness is another thing. What did it mean when Neem Karoli Baba told Ram Dass that the world is both perfect and terrible, when he told Larry Brilliant that everything was exactly as it should be and that he had to go out and eradicate smallpox? Practitioners can get caught up in the everything is perfect concept in Buddhism and use it as an excuse not to serve others or engage in the pain of the world. We are taught not to work with the sole expectation of achieving a goal, that the means is the end, and yet the Boddhisatva vows commit the sangha to relieve all suffering everywhere.
How can the world be simultaneously obviously, painfully fucked up and also just as it should be? How can we accept this non-binary without becoming cynical? Without believing that if this is the way it’s supposed to be, we are therefore meant to be miserable, greedy, tortured, imprisoned, violent, starving? I don’t think that’s the point.
Then there is My Dog. I have never used the word Perfect so easily as with this creature. Nothing else seems apt. She is moody and cold and stubborn and lazy and Perfect. There is no contradiction there; it’s simple and obvious. Her perfection doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed with her, and her occasional brattiness doesn’t mean she isn’t perfect. Perhaps you have the same experience with your cat or your child. I’ve never felt that way about a human, even my favorite humans, and I don’t know whether it’s because I have some unattainable ideal in mind or no ideal at all. Perhaps it’s a failure of my ability to truly love human beings with the same generosity and vulnerability with which I love non-humans. Do I know them too well? Or the species too well? Perhaps that is the problem – trying to hang love on reason. Not in the love is irrational sense, but in the love is beyond rationality sense. Love is a spiritual pursuit, not a material or intellectual one. Perhaps, as such, it can withstand all apparent contradictions. And my neurotic, cat-like dog can be whatever she wants to be, and still be loved and perfect.
This is the only non-binary, nondual reality I can affirm as true rather than just believing it possible. I choose to see it as a jumping off point rather than a limitation. And I do want to take that leap, because something in me thinks that if I can really embrace nonduality, interconnectedness, bothandness, acting with integrity and wisdom will be a hell of a lot easier.
4 thoughts on “Paradox Note (Perfection, Part 1)”
Thank you so much for putting this to words! I am studying David Hawkins right now, who says the world is perfect as it is. I’m thinking – yes the essence of it is but as a social worker honestly, there is so much more work to do….maybe the work will never be done but to accept it as it is is difficult. Trying my best not to have a white saviour complex while doing what I can within my power to raise conciousness and live in truth.
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Lovely, karlaveens. Thank you. I definitely struggle with accepting the nonbinary, but the better I get at letting go of a strict rational interpretation of things, the (little bit) easier it gets. That and repeating to myself every day, “the means is the end; the means is the end” – I can’t control the outcome, but I can do my best to make my work loving and present. Thank you for what you do and for introducing me to David Hawkins. Adding him to the list…