It was a pleasant full moon night. Leaning against the pillar in the porch, I was looking at the moon rays melted in among the interstices of the foliage in wonderment. I was deeply absorbed in the amazing beauty of the glistering coconut shreds under the full moon. There, in that serene silence and tranquillity, came the sound of pleasant plucking of Sitar strings followed by a deep, rich and sonorous voice on the speaker system that penetrated my consciousness. It took me a while to realise I was listening to Hemantada singing those poignant lyrics penned by Rajendra krishan: Zindagi Pyar ki do char ghadi hoti hai (Life is but a few short hours of loving) …
All of a sudden, it reminded me of what my revered teacher once said: “Never ever leave a true relation for a few faults, for no one is perfect, no one is always correct”. He also said, “What ultimately matters most in our relations is ‘affection’”. Sounds pretty, isn’t it?
As the song was progressing slowly — Taaj ya takht ya daulat ho zamaane bhar ki / kaun si cheez mohabbat se badi hoti hai? — asserting that these few short hours of loving mean much more than a crown and all the riches in the world — the whole course of discussions that I had with friends over what my teacher said rolled before me ... And, as it often happens one thought leading to another, the ripple effect left me with an interminable stream of thoughts …
One evening, as I shared what my teacher said with my friends, one among them, questioning, ‘What is perfection?” and quoting Mark Twain, said that the very meaning of ‘perfection’ is continuously getting perfected all the time. In other words, what he, perhaps, meant was: There is nothing like ‘the’ perfection, for it is always evolving.
Going even farther, another friend questioned, “why perfection at all?” for, in his view, perfection is always accompanied by undesirables. “For instance, beautiful rose is accompanied by thorns”, said he. He went on arguing that perfection is after all defined by us, the human beings. So, what is perfect today could become imperfect tomorrow; what is acceptable at one place may turn out to be a taboo at another place.
Indeed, he said that he hates perfection! For, he feels that in the pursuit of perfection — a state of completeness, flawlessness, or supreme excellence — one gets deprived of even simple pleasures of life; could not enjoy even whatever accomplishments that one’s limited resources/abilities enabled one to pocket.
He also argued that it is always easy to relate with a man of slight imperfection rather than with an altogether perfect man, for he would always be a kind of intimidating lot—particularly to the lesser mortals. Then he enquired, if I have seen a mountain range. He says there is no harmony among them — some are high while some are not; yet the mountain ranges look beautiful, aren’t they? He therefore asserted that it is the same with many of us, the imperfect beings: we trip here, stumble there and yet get one or two things done right here and there in our long journey through the mist of the life… and that is the marvellous imperfection of us, the beautiful beings…
Joining him, another friend said: “Remember, we are not the angels… we are after all human beings trying to get our bearings alright to lead meaningful life here on this planet unredeemed … So, let us not condemn ourselves, if we here and there bruise our integrity or trip over our values… for, we are after all ordinary mortals with our own inherent imperfections…”
“But that doesn’t mean, you stay put with it”, said he. “No, do get up and try bettering it… That is the meaning of ‘living’. All living things are eternally imperfect for there is always room for bettering the existing perfection… it’s only inanimate objects like a table or a chair that once made cannot be bettered!”
What he perhaps meant was: it’s perfectly alright to be imperfect, so long there is a desire to improve… and happiness rests in not how perfectly one did a job but doing something better — better than previously.
There is another interesting question that my friend raised: If everyone is perfect where the love would go? Intriguingly, he went on saying that it is our imperfections and the resulting differences which make us to search for that missing half so that we can become full. And that missing half is nothing but the ‘love’ which appears in the form of ‘forgiveness’ — the act of excusing imperfections.
This obviously raises a question: What is love? Being awake, being alive to what is happening right now… makes one more vibrant, and in that vibrancy one loses all solidity… rigidity … one becomes more fluid. And when we lose our rigidity, nothing sticks … concepts and theories won’t stick and so openness pops up. In that openness one is no more in the know of what everything is… and in it emerges freedom and this state of ‘freedom’ is love. In this love everything becomes devotion. No matter whether it is perfect or imperfect, anything done in devotion turns out to be alright.
Incidentally, children and animals, they say live in this plane. They approach everything with no pre-set ideas. They see the things simply as they are in front of them without colouring them with concepts and labels. They see the world around them thus not because they are more enlightened. It simply happens — happens because, they are perhaps, natural meditators! Indeed, such simple seeing happens for us, the adults, too but the problem is: the all-pervading idea of ‘me’ as somebody different separates our seeing from that of the children and animals i.e. our beliefs obscure the reality. And hence the perfection and imperfection.
So, the take home is: don’t get bogged down by concepts, labels, beliefs, etc., for they are the imaginary constructs of the conventions that the society has bred but they are, unfortunately, powerful-enough to even obscure the reality from mind. So, learn to simply look at the happenings around in a total freedom. And when we do what we do sans expectations—expectations as to how things should be, without colouring them with idealism and blame, but with more openness and compassion — any kind of outcome thereof would become alright. In such an approach imperfections even lose their sting.
That freedom — the freedom which enables one to see the asymmetry, the mess, the unresolved … the imperfect, the terrible as they appear all around in their true colours — never lets one sacrifice the loved one merely because he or she is imperfect. And remember: Zindagi Pyar ki do char ghadi hoti hai … and importantly, the next line of the song: Chaahe thodi bhi ho ye umar badi hoti hai (may be a little, but its fragrance lasts longer).