a thought on perfection and dialogue. imperfect faiths.


the poet eduardo galeano said that perfection is the boring privilege of the gods. i agree. but i don’t know what perfection is. one way to investigate this issue is by identifying a flaw and declaring perfection to be its opposite. but what is a flaw in the universe? what aspect of existence is flawed? it seems that the universe taken as a whole cannot be said to lack anything, and therefore it is complete and perfect as-is. for that reason, when spinoza said “deus sive natura”, god is nature, he knew that in order to avoid the boredom of perfection, we needed a god-nature that is both begotten and begetting, eternally existing as-is, and eternally in the process of being created. a god fixed and a god unfolding, and both are one god and the same. he called this god-nature, natura-naturata and natura-naturans. god as-this, and god as-flowing. the most amazing awakening is to the fact that god creates us every moment and at every place, and that we ourselves create the god that creates us by that same act of creation. this can be said to be the perfect (non-boring) dialogue between us and god

nothing in nature is inherently flawed. there are no flawed things. flaw is a value judgment we superimpose on things and conditions. and the same applies for perfection. the value judgments we utilize are strongly influenced by the culture of the society into which we have been born. so we create perfect beings that closely match our own concepts of perfection and in the same way and sense we regard others as flawed. it is never a matter of observing perfection and recognizing it in what we see, it is always a matter of seeing what-is and then ascribing to it our own biased cultural predicates.

to argue for the fact of an existence, some form of evidence needs to be provided. when introducing a new fact, the appeal to belief must be based on some form of evidence. but we first need to agree on what constitutes proper evidence. when speaking of the absolute-perfect being, should not the evidence for its existence be likewise absolutely perfect? for the most part we accept our own personal faiths as sufficient evidence, and we wish and expect others to accept that evidence and adopt the faith as well. in the case of the buddha, his teachings did not ask for the adoption of a faith, but rather for the evidence provided by one’s own experiences during the practice of the precepts. but it’s important to note that the buddha’s was not a belief-experience he had called for, but a secular-experience based and entirely founded on a whole-being, mind and body practice. in other words, in contrast to theistic-based religions, there are no belief systems required for the acceptance of the buddhist teachings. in a very important sense, buddhism is the one religion in which the biblical principle of “let us do and then we will hear”, applies with great precision.

when we think of the reasons why we can’t share the evidence of faith presented to us by members of a different faith community, we are thinking of the reasons why our own faith-evidence is flawed. therefore we must consider the possibility of imperfect faiths. the concept of an imperfect faith has two meanings: faiths established on the basis of imperfect evidence, and faiths that themselves are imperfect in terms of their own teachings, contents and forms. there is no need to adopt a faith because of the completeness it seems to present to our eyes. it is also right to accept a faith that includes elements within it that are clear indications of imperfect teachings, contents and forms. and of course it is also right, permissible and often necessary to reform the faiths as we see fit. if we accept that our own value judgments superimpose themselves on the religions we subscribe to, then we must also accept that the perfection we perceive in them is largely a construction of our own minds. we accept and reject religions based on psychological factors and we must therefore live with them with a contemplative measure of imperfect uncertainty.

franz rosenzweig wrote that if the mythical river sambatyon would flow through the city of frankfurt, everyone will witness the miracle and it would be no reason for any citizen of that city not to be a believer. but that kind of belief is essentially devoid of meaning. true faith requires the freedom of uncertainty. once evidence is clearly established, no longer do we need a recourse to faith. beliefs require evidence, but faith requires the freedom that comes with imperfect evidence.

an experience we could all share will be a necessary but not a sufficient evidence. but the more we share the least we’d be pron to resort to conflicts. for that reason we need to begin to reconstruct the principles that govern the use of our bodies in the context of religion. our bodies should not be used in the manner we use commodities. the body should not be made an “it”, not for commercial and productive purposes, and not for religious purposes. our bodies ought to be non-regulated except by the extent and depth of our own ethical norms. the importance of this is that the body is a good place in which to start the religious reformations we so desperately need, and it is for this precise reason that conventional historic religions have placed such emphasis in its control and regulation.

the answers that can never be found are precisely the ones we must treasure the most. we ask not to find answers, but to find questions. futile questioning one might argue, but unattainable answers are those that manifest in our lives in the form of poetry. every question of that which can not possibly be answered is a verse of poetry. every answer, a deception. once we think we have found answers we lose both truth and poetry. let us replace religion with poetry. let us replace prophets with poets. but we must urgently replace temples with olive trees and altars with orange sand. or maybe with forests, or mountains and rivers. (there are no orthodoxies in nature). for whatever nature teaches is not only poetry, it is also prophecy and truth. when a poet ceases to dialogue with nature he loses the ability to ask the unanswerable, and for that, all of humanity becomes poorer.

there isn’t anything in nature that hides anything else, or is hidden anywhere. not on purpose. we fail to see because we have chosen to look elsewhere. there is no silence, there is no blindness and there is no loneliness. life is filled with holiness everywhere and empty of nothing at all. the world all around us and in-between i and thou, in its joyous overflowing of colors, and fragrances and sounds, writes poetry incessantly and abundantly. we make our lives silent to the voices we hear, and blind to the lights we see, and lonely to the touch we feel. but we can unmake it too. all of it. and the important thing is to reach out for questions rather than answers. questions are infinite and eternal, but answers are impermanent.

hune margulies

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