I know, saying something like that in times of postmodern spirituality is almost like spitting in the church. Everything is perfect as it is, right? Yeah, absolutely. This is true and can be verified by anyone through the use of an appropriate method, meditation for example. However, the opposite is also true. In the world of form, no such thing as perfection exists. In the relative dimension of reality, everything can always be improved.
In an earlier post on this blog I wrote about perfectionism. Recently, when my coach pointed out the imperfect nature of reality, I burst out in laughter. It struck me how the whole notion about perfectionism is a completely impossible endeavour. What would the perfect blog post look like? Even if I’d polish a certain post for ten years it would still be fundamentally flawed. That goes for everything in life. Whatever I create will be imperfect. And yet, at the very root of it’s being, this blog post is perfect. In fact, it was even perfect before I started writing it.
This gives me an opportunity to comment on one of the fundamental aspects of higher stages of development, as described by researchers such as Susanne Cook-Greuter and Robert Kegan: The ability to hold apparently conflicting perspectives. In any given polarity, earlier stages of development tend to identify strongly with one of the poles. Some examples of polarities: Either what I do is perfect or it is not. I am either competent or incompetent. The universe is either friendly or hostile. I tend to prefer comfort rather than experiential intensity. In contrast, at higher stages of development, we are aware of that two poles can exist simultaneously. We include them, make space for them. Sometimes we open up for the tension between the polarities to give rise to new emergence and sometimes we focus on the integration of the opposites. In any case, we do not give exclusive privilege to any one pole within our experience.
What is the practical use of this perspective? One possible way to approach higher stages of development, according to professor of developmental psychology Rob McNamara, is to refine this capacity to embrace polarities. When you notice that you are caught in a certain perspective, such as perfectionism, have a look at the opposing perspective. In this case, it could be imperfection. Another opposite of perfectionism that came up for me is “letting go”. When you’ve identified the two poles, feel into both of them separately. You can play with them a bit, perhaps going back and forth a few times. Is there something that want’s to emerge from the space between the poles? What happens if you give space to both of them simultaneously? Some kind of integration might emerge, however, that is not what is of main importance. The main benefit is that doing this is likely to increase your capacity to be with polarities, thus facilitating your movement towards higher levels of development. Feel free to play with this, and if you do, it would be awesome if you would post about your experiences below. Have fun integrating!