Thursday, March 27, 2008

The best of all possible worlds

My yoga teacher today was talking about the philosophy that the world is perfect, and that we, as part of the world, are perfect, too. Candide came to mind, of course. And the ironic, cynical perspective that goes with it. But there is a beauty, too, to the philosophy: so much of the world we live in is our creation: if we see it as beautiful, then it is; and if we see it as ugly, then it is that, too.

The idea my teacher was suggesting was an idea of self-acceptance, that our present state is perfect as it is; the perfection lies in our being what we are, not in our ability to act in certain ways.

I was thinking about these things during the class, thinking about them with respect to the position of the writer. So often we, as authors, get stuck on our own imperfection and the imperfection of the work that we've created. Instead of sharing that work, we see problems with it and work on it more or abandon it. If that is our situation, then we want to work at recognizing our own perfection.

At the same time, we can also recognize that our work may not be what we want it to be. We may be certain that it can be improved. We don't, after all, want to sacrifice quality for expediency--at least not too much.

These are two competing paradigms: one that says to be accepting, the other to be critical, exigent, even.

The resolution, it seems to me, relies on balance. We embrace both possibilities--both that we can strive for our vision of perfection, and that we can strive to accept our innate perfection--we embrace them, but keep each in balance. Embracing the idea is not simply surrendering to it; it is not giving up our free will to decide. Instead it is opening up to the additional perspective so that our choices are made on the widest array of options. Being able to recognize your own perfection does not mean slipping into sloth. Just because you have realized perfection, and can see it in your own manifestation, does not mean that you stop acting. It may mean choosing different courses of action, but it does not imply to stop acting.

My yoga teacher, in exhorting the class to recognize our own perfection was not suggesting that we shouldn't still try to practice yoga with our best form, or that we shouldn't seek to improve our practice. Preaching our perfection did not stop her from trying to help us adjust our poses.

It's common, at least in the US, to think of yoga as a physical practice--a series of poses. But yoga is a way of life. The philosophy of yoga is applied in all realms of life. Such as in writing. Recognizing our perfection means being able to accept our writing for what it is, blemishes and all. But that doesn't preclude our trying to create a better written work, it just changes the emotional valence from negative to positive.

And that's really what the trick is--to be able to act and to take actions that help us approach our goals.

No comments: