What Does it Mean to be Perfect?

We spill things, we forget our passwords, we miss the birthdays of friends and family, perhaps we consistently type ‘form’ when we mean ‘from.’ But as Hazrat Inayat Khan pointed out more than once, the scriptures tell us, ‘Be perfect, like your Father in heaven.’  Is that possible? What does that mean?

From infancy, every one of us begins a long training, often under the tutelage of our parents, but others also guide us, and inevitably it is a process in which our actions, our words, and even our thoughts and feelings, are corrected. “No, not like that – like this. Try again.” Thus we acquire abilities and ways of relating to the world that shape our lives, but we also gain a strong impression that no matter how far we reach, our arms are not long enough : our grasp falls short of perfection. If we are even the least bit honest, we will say, ‘No, I am not perfect, and I don’t think I ever will be.’

On the other hand, we want to rise. We seem to have an inherent desire to go upward; babies enthusiastically pull themselves up to their feet again and again; the human race, notwithstanding the confusion and dismal mayhem here on earth, sends explorers to the moon. And in the prayer Salat, addressing the Spirit of Guidance as the Messenger, Christ, Nabi and Rasul of God, we say, ‘Thou, whose heart constantly reacheth upward.’ This idealisation of perfection is so strongly present in us that it must be in our nature. We cannot yearn for what is unknown to us. But how do we go from dream to reality?

If we set aside our human point of view for a moment and think about perfection, we can realise that it cannot be limited; perfection with a limit or boundary, perfection that ends, is imperfect. Therefore perfection must be ‘omnipresent, all-pervading,’ and if that is so, then we are never apart from perfection. It is with us and within us, always. We do not witness the perfect because we are so absorbed in the imperfect, the limited, but if we would lose for a moment our own point of view, we might be granted a vision of the infinite, which is both perfect and ever-lasting.

To be ‘perfect, as our Father in heaven,’ does not mean to be free from human error but to lose sight of our own limited point of view. When we are no more there, then the limitations vanish. Thus, we find this in Gayan Boulas : In order to realize the divine perfection, man must lose his imperfect self.

2 Replies to “What Does it Mean to be Perfect?”

  1. Zubin Shore

    What an interesting point of view,
    ‘perfection cannot be limited, therefore we are never apart from it’ .
    it is a staircase to heaven,
    how wonderful to realise perfection exists,
    beneath all of which we sometimes despair
    thankyou Pir Nawab


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