Essays on Life – IV: On Progress not perfection

Two principal paths exist in Hinduism ”“ Bhakti & Aghora. Both deal with the idea of perfection. Even if one is a left-liberal atheist, still scientific curiosity must force one to ponder why one of the oldest religions in the world and framework of profound philosophies harps constantly on the concept of perfection? And that is true in other schools of thought and religions as well.

And, yet a large section of humanity seems to be more concerned on progress rather than perfection. Why so?

Is it possible, that the definition of perfection has become so narrow so refined that subconsciously we have accepted the fact that we may never achieve its strict ideals?

And since as human beings (very similar to goats) we need an ideal to pursue (even if mindlessly like goats) so we have latched on to an ill-defined definition of progress in its ambiguous messy version because it is easy to associate with and reflects our own confused state. And even if we don”™t progress, we can still say that we attained something due to its complicated ambiguous nature. We can camouflage our mundane next-to-nothing existence within the garb of modernity, jazzy-yet-soul-sucking jobs, and pathetic jacuzzi lifestyles.  

And this is why I disagree with the philosophy of “progress not perfection” and urge the retraction from it. The singular pursuit of progress will only deliver grief. Pursuit of excellence on the other hand will initially deliver unhappiness and failure, but solace and salvation eventually.

Looking back at one”™s life, one has constantly made efforts for progress:

Engineering (better education thus progress) delivered grief.

Campus Placement (better work-ex thus progress) delivered grief.

Attempts at MBA (IIM thus progress) delivered grief.

MS (Best American education thus progress) delivered grief.

A-grade Placement (Mgmt. Consulting thus progress) delivered grief.

Love (lost one found a better one thus progress) delivered grief.

The list goes on. However, in that very brief period of one life where pursuit shifted from progress to perfection one was happy.

Progress is not bad. It is not evil. It is a mechanism designed to make life methodical and deliver the journeyman safely to the grave. Such an oxymoronic sub-sentence, ”˜safely to the grave”™? On that note, I read somewhere that life has an unrequited love for death ”“ it sends gifts constantly to death but death never reciprocates. So corny, yet so true.   

Perfection is a ”˜purpose”™ that aims to liberate. The reason why I present all these banal platitudes is that now I truly believe that pursuit of progress gives grief. This is because it is married to the idea of achieving defined goals. Implicit in goals is longing. Longing begets hope. And hope keeps us breathing. And that is why achievement of goals delivers grief because the longing vanishes and the hope dies. The hamster must keep running. Running keeps it alive.

Perfection delivers salvation because it is beyond goals.

Which begs the question: Not everyone can achieve perfection or be perfect, then what? That”™s where Bhakti shastra, Aghora shastra can help: Strive, accept, and surrender. Especially Aghora, the primary hypothesis of which is, that as humans we are the hostage of desires and senses, so let us fill ourselves so much with them that the ensuing nausea will liberate us. Perhaps Jim Carrey”™s meant the same when he said: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer”.                   

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