Purify to Perfection

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 10, 2013

In the body human, I am absolutely, positively perfectible in spirit – and so are you.

This statement expresses neither a belief nor a presumption, but a plain, pure fact.

The plain fact that we do not always behave, act, speak, or conduct ourselves from this perfectibility does not for one moment negate the pure fact that we are absolutely, positively perfectible in spirit.

In our heart of hearts, we know, deep down, those all-too-rare, all-too-fleeting moments of harmonic exhilaration, of absolute spiritual perfection, when we see them, hear them, and feel them.

We couldn’t point to them or talk about them otherwise.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 24

Many of us only see, hear, and feel intimations of our spiritual perfection as we go about our days – if that.

As we’re positively perfectible in spirit, what keeps us from expressing perfection fully and consistently?

Verse 24 offers some clues …

If you stand on tiptoe,
you cannot stand firmly.
If you take long steps,
you cannot walk far.

Showing off
does not reveal
enlightenment.
Boasting
will not produce
accomplishment.
They who are
self-righteous
are not respected.
Those who brag
will not endure.

These ways of acting
are odious, distasteful.
They’re superfluous,
like pains in the stomach,
or tumors in the body.

When walking
the path of the Tao,
this is the very stuff
that must be uprooted,
thrown out,
and left behind.

Edited slightly to enhance the flow of text and reflect more inclusive language

Ref: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

How do you feel when you’re in the presence of someone who constantly shows off, who brags and boasts like there’s no tomorrow, who seems to complain all the time about this, that, or the other thing?

Are they nevertheless absolutely, positively perfectible in spirit? Of course they are.

The question is this: why do they not already know they are?

My Impressions of the Verse

In my view, this verse is not perfectly expressed, but it does have a lot of wisdom to offer.

Let us see if we cannot polish this rough-hewn gem to perfection …

If you stand on tiptoe,
you cannot stand firmly.
If you take long steps,
you cannot walk far.

There’s a time and a place for standing on tiptoe, for taking long steps, but there’s a price to pay if we insist on performing such acts for aims that the acts are not naturally suited to meet.

So far so good.

Showing off
does not reveal
enlightenment.
Boasting
will not produce
accomplishment.
They who are
self-righteous
are not respected.
Those who brag
will not endure.

This portion of the verse speaks common truth.

I need not show off if I am already awakened and enlightened; I need not boast if I already feel worthy of my accomplishments; I need not justify myself righteously if I already feel worthy of respect; and I need not brag if I already feel worthy of perfection.

These ways of acting
are odious, distasteful.
They are superfluous,
like pains in the stomach,
or tumors in the body.

Odious and distasteful to whom?

Ultimately, they are what they are: temporary albeit apparent (and possibly superfluous) deviations from perfect spiritual expression.

Certainly, let us not carelessly or cavalierly attract these questionable ways of acting into our daily experience willy-nilly, but without them serving by way of contrast, would it even be possible to recognize and appreciate moments of perfection otherwise?

When walking
the path of the Tao,
this is the very stuff
that must be uprooted,
thrown out,
and left behind.

This is where the verse is at risk of falling flat on its face.

Must be uprooted, thrown out, and left behind? Not only would this imperative be a constant source of resistance and reactivity, it’s also a prescription for affecting a puritanical attitude.

Let us not be puritanical. Please, I beg of thee. Let us instead see if we can go deeper – and further.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

What are my intentions for writing this post?

Is it to demonstrate what it means to be absolutely, positively perfectible in spirit? Is it to guide others to be so, by helping them come to terms with the purity in their souls and the perfectibility of their spirits?

I start with this premise: despite appearances to the contrary, we are always already essentially pure – and potentially perfect.

As I develop this premise, I’d like to begin by sharing a few anecdotes from The Other Side of The Great Divide, which I’ve taken the liberty to condense and relate from a first person perspective.

I detached from my body and rose above the operating table. My OCD compelled me to read the serial number on top of the machine next to my bed. After returning to consciousness, I told a nurse about it. She encouraged me to write it down, and later, confirmed its accuracy. The top of this machine rises far beyond the reach of most people and at no time was there a ladder leaning against it.

This first anecdote reminds me of the tale of a soul out of body who found, and later described accurately, a shoe on the outer ledge of a window on a higher floor at a hospital.

The next anecdote reveals something interesting about the nature of souls …

After detaching from my body, I entered a light full of noisy souls. Most of them seemed bound together by a shared consumption with wanting and needing, with caring only about themselves, but one soul stood out like a breath of fresh air: this soul was quiet and humble. I approached this soul and found out the reason why this soul was there: to complete a lesson on humility.

The third anecdote is rather revealing, as extraordinary as it is rare …

When I came face to face with this awesome being, I felt as though my soul were being entirely exposed to scrutiny. I felt completely naked, not unlike being in public with no clothes on, but here, I felt even more vulnerable. I couldn’t bear it. I was compelled to move away.

Souls bound by human attachments and natural inclinations cannot make this stuff up. In these anecdotes, three souls were compelled, in spite of themselves, to have encounters outside the bounds of what they normally experienced and considered normal for them. All were compelled to experience and acknowledge situations with astonishing clarity that expanded their perceptions of human life as souls.

Most interestingly, impurities and imperfections are still encountered or experienced in the astral realm, on the Other Side, in the so-called afterlife, but here’s the thing: such impurities and imperfections are mere echoes of time spent in a dense manifest realm.

It’s as if what goes on here in the dense manifest realm is serving as a stimulus for learning, as a catalyst for growth, for our realization as souls, for our fulfillment as spirits, even as Source Consciousness continues to call us back to purity for the sake of perfection.

But then, perhaps we are merely here to experience as much as we can, as fully as we can, what we already know to be possible, whether this means illuminating the world with the light of truth in love or flirting with the dark at the risk of being consumed by darkness.

In light of these suppositions, here is what I feel we are called to be, most essentially, at this time …

I remain present, finding my peace in presence; I remain at peace, finding my promise in peace

For those who follow and express the light of truth for the sake of love, these are the first hints of what it means to purify to perfection. These are the first intimations of what it means to entertain and apply pure intention for the sake of perfect expression, for the sake of any spiritual expression that feels authentic and complete, genuinely fulfilling or fulfilled.

A comprehensive guide to aligning perfect expression with pure intention is beyond the scope of this post, but I do drop more than a few hints about how to begin this process in my post Living Without Rules.

Here’s my concluding thought: perfection is purely about being, knowing, and loving, of exploring, expressing, and expanding promise with presence, peace, and a sense of possibility in the midst of impurities and imperfections that can only ever be apparent.

Next up: Great = Boundless (Living from Greatness (Boundlessness))

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This post is one of many in an ongoing series that began here.

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