Writing conversation

From a reader of the blog, a contribution for the writing conversation.

From The Sage’s Tao Te Ching, with William Martin


Day 19: Perfection Will Be Built

Trying to make a perfect life
is a path of great sorrow.
The perfect life cannot be built
by seeking to fulfill desires
no matter how many years are spent,
or how much effort is applied.
Desires are insatiable and endless.

If instead we see
the imperfect events,
and the ordinary people,
as the movement of the Tao,
life becomes perfect as it is.

The time comes when we realize
that the ducks will never be in a row.
It is the nature of ducks to fly about.
The house will never be perfectly clean.
It is the nature of a house to accommodate clutter.
The project will never be done just right.
It is the nature of projects to evolve into other projects.
The future will never be perfectly secure.
It is the nature of life to be unpredictable.

Sit still and watch for a moment.
Perfection will be built
from all that is imperfect.

— Chapter 45 of The Sage’s Tao Te Ching
Comments by William Martin

Perfectionism is in reality, of course, the pursuit of imperfection. Our conditioned mind never rests in its scrutiny of our actions, thoughts, and feelings; measuring them against some ever-elusive standard which is never reached. This process assures that this constellation of mental habits always has something to keep it occupied. In the meantime, we are never truly and completely at rest. This is tragic, for the quality of the Tao within us is always at rest, always content, even in the midst of energetic action. It never compares Itself with some external standard for It is All There Is. There is nothing to which to compare It.

Reflection Questions

Are you a perfectionist? (imperfectionist) Where does your conditioned mind get the standards it uses to keep you always on this search?


What would it be like to spend the day doing nothing? You have an internal list, I would bet, of the things you should do today and the kind of person you should be today. Consider dropping it all for just a day. Do nothing that your conditioned mind suggests. Instead eat what you want when you want. Watch movies if you want. Work in the garden if you want. Go shopping for something frivolous if you want. Don’t worry. You can pick up the “to do” list tomorrow. The world won’t end if you experiment with ignoring this inner voice that you are in the habit of believing without question.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    very thought provoking. Thank you!!

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