February 20, 2014

Since when did the word _____ become dirty in Yoga?

Krishna and Arjuna discussing the Yoga of perfection.

In the Bhagavad Gita, the word perfection describes yoga’s highest state not less than 20 times.

There are people in the yoga world who appear to be arguing for removing the concept of perfection from yoga, and yet this grand word perfectly describes the goal of yoga. Something has become terribly distorted if perfection has come to be a negative word that conveys harmful self criticism, over attention to detail, intolerance or something otherwise equally undesirable.

On the contrary, perfection is one of yoga’s most sublime, aptly descriptive words; it conveys a fitting culmination and the result of a life time devoted to the study of yoga. Perfection is the aim, the desired result, the unequalled experience that is attained by someone who is willing to adequately sacrifice their body, breath, mind and spirit to the cause of yoga. A Siddha, a perfected one, describes the person who attains Self knowledge through becoming utterly absorbed in practice and inquiry into yoga’s secret truths.

Perfection is not meant to be a concept of the ego, and thus ought not to be brought down into the lower mental realms where it can be misused by the attacking mind, a weapon used to cripple and humiliate you.

Perfection is a higher word, it belongs in the realm of buddhi, the awakened feminine intellect, the core of intelligence that lives alongside the concepts of bliss and truth within your heart’s cave.

Such mastery as perfection describes is entirely possible, within reach of someone who grabs onto the principal techniques of yoga and follows them to their ends. Perfection is a high goal, a near impossible ideal and to set your mark on perfection is to court failure to watch your best intentions crumble before you.

Reach inward for perfection and surely you will expose each of your too many weaknesses and flaws, and the bite of these can kill you.

Allowing the concept of perfection into your world is like potentially allowing an insanely treacherous predatory animal into your world such as an alligator, a shark, a grizzly bear, or poisonous snake. Even the wildest, most fierce ones have an equal place here, they belong here. Perfection and danger go together, you can’t have one without the other. And this means risk, to shoot for perfection is to accept maximum risk, to raise the bar to a nearly unattainable level. To court perfection is to court failure and at the same time to create an insatiable longing to extract the best from yourself.

Yoga is one field where perfection must be allowed to exist, through yoga let me at least make my best try to leave mediocrity behind. Perfection and yoga are a perfect match, they belong together, in the rarified air where citta vrtti nirodha happens. Within the Void, in the middle, is where perfection and yoga join, a marriage made in heaven. Stop the flow of body, breath, and mind and there you find siddhi, perfection, mastery. Nevermind if almost no one can attain that state, let the image of that purity live within me, let me at least have a distant glimpse of that supreme finality. Let me not shy away from contemplating the highest of the high, the purest of the pure, the deepest of the deep.

I need to deny this small, measly self within me that can’t tolerate perfection, I refuse to be too fragile to admit that I am not strong enough or devoted enough to reach for such an unattainable place. Instead, I humbly get on my knees and cry out for the strength to fail, and to fail, and to fail, and to fail, as happily and as endlessly as is necessary to take one step towards the lofty mastery of perfection. Let me champion perfection, protect it, covet it, yearn for it, breathe it, know it, risk for it, love it, respect it, fear it, cherish it, tolerate my need for it, lay it all on the line for it.

Let yoga be a place where I can bathe in the glory of infinite possibility, I want the freedom to contemplate the most profound soaring ideal, allow me to seek and find the furtherest, most expansive reaches of consciousness where perfection ever abides as the supremely pure, sublime state. I realize that matching myself against the standard of perfection can be devastating physically, psychologically, spiritually, but let me take that chance so that I can truly live while I am alive.

Insist on mediocrity if you please but please let me have my perfection, let me give my everything to become a siddha, whether I make it or not…



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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: provided by author; Jade Beall

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