Question – What is the Desire for Perfection?
Osho – ADHEERA, THE DESIRE FOR PERFECTION is the search for the lost womb. The paradise — lost. The child is utterly happy in the mother’s womb; that memory persists. It is not just a memory in the brain, it is in every cell of the body, every fiber of the body. It is all over you.
That memory persists. Those nine months have been of such eternal joy, of such relaxation and let-go, it is not easy to forget it. Even though consciously you have forgotten about it — because of the birth trauma you became disconnected consciously from it — yet the unconscious still hankers for it. It tries in every way to reach to that lost paradise again.
The whole of religion consists of that search, and the whole of science too consists of that search. The scientific endeavour is to create that womb outside — with central heating, with central air-conditioning, with better clothes, with better technology — the whole effort is to create the womb outside.
And religion tries to create the womb inside — with prayer, with meditation techniques, with love, with God. But the effort is one: how to be again in those beautiful days. That lost womb is the source of the parable of Adam, Eve and the Garden of Eden.
You ask: WHAT IS THE DESIRE FOR PERFECTION?
The desire for perfection is that whatsoever is the case with you, it is never up to the mark. It is never as it should be, there is a gap. You can still imagine things being better; you can still imagine better days, better possibilities. One goes on hankering for those better possibilities.
You can drop this search for perfection only if you move back through the birth trauma again. If you live it consciously and you remember consciously those days in the womb, immediately the desire for perfection will disappear; it disappears immediately. And the disappearance of this desire is a great relief, because only then can you start living moment-to-moment — how can you live with this desire for perfection? It is the source of all neurosis.
The man who wants to become perfect is bound to become neurotic, because he can’t be here. He is in the future, which is not. He cannot enjoy this moment, he can only condemn it. He cannot love THIS woman because he has the idea of a perfect woman. He cannot love THIS man because this man is not perfect. He cannot enjoy this food, this breakfast, this morning — nothing is ever fulfilling to him, can’t be. His expectation is there and he is continuously comparing, and continuously falling short.
The man who lives in the desire for perfection, lives a condemned life. And the society helps it too. The parents, the schools, the colleges, the universities, the mahatmas, the priests, the politicians, they all help to make you neurotic. From the very childhood, you have not been accepted as you are. You have been told, “Be like this, only then are you acceptable.” If you want to live a life of your own you will be condemned by everybody, everybody will be against you. Your parents will not be able to tolerate you. They have to mould you, form you, change you, manipulate you — they have to MANUFACTURE you according to their hearts’ desire.
And what is the problem with them? They are also suffering from the birth trauma. They have tried their whole life to become perfect, and they have failed. Nobody can ever succeed; the desire is such that it is bound to fail. Failure is inevitable — because you can go on succeeding, but with you the idea of perfection starts becoming more and more sophisticated. As you succeed, the idea starts receding further ahead into the future. It becomes more sophisticated: more expectations…
The distance between you and the idea of perfection remains the same. If you have ten thousand rupees, you need one hundred thousand to be happy. When you have one hundred thousand, the desire has moved ahead; now that is not enough. And so is the case in everything.
The parents are living their own traumas. They have tried their whole life and they have failed; now they want to live through the child. Hence they start turning the child into a neurotic being, now they start teaching the child. This is a vicarious way of living. They have failed; now they know that death is coming, now their days are finished, now they are losing hope. A new hope arises, they can live through the child. If they were not perfect, at least their children can be perfect. And they say a tree is known by the fruit: if the children are perfect then the parents must have been perfect.
This is how the whole neurosis continues, from one generation to another generation. The parents are continuously trying to improve upon the child in every way. And all that they succeed in doing is, they make the child feel condemned as he is. They make it impossible for the child to love himself, to respect himself. And once that love and respect for oneself is lost, one IS lost. The world suffers so much — from madness, all kinds of mental illnesses, physical diseases. And ninety-nine percent of the causes of all these mind-body problems come from this approach, that the child has to be perfect.
A family was seated in a restaurant. The waitress took the order of the adults and then turned to their young son.
“What will you have, sonny?” she asked.
“I want a hot dog,” the boy began timidly.
Before the waitress could write down the order, the mother interrupted. “No, no hot dog,” she said. “Give him potatoes, beef, and some carrots.”
But the waitress ignored her completely. “Do you want some ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?” she asked of the boy.
“Ketchup,” he replied with a happy smile on his face.
“Coming up,” the waitress said, starting for the kitchen.
There was stunned silence upon her departure. Finally, the boy turned to his parents. “Know what?” he said. “She thinks I’m real.”
That is from where the problem is arising, you don’t allow your children to be real. You make them feel unreal, you force them to feel phony, rejected, worthless. And once this idea is created in their minds, that they are worthless as they are, naturally a great desire to become perfect arises. And with that arise all sorts of neuroses.
My effort here is to help you, not to be perfect, but to drop the whole nonsense. In dropping that, you will become for the first time real. Reality is never perfect, remember. Reality is always growing — how can it be perfect? Once something is perfect, growth is not possible. Only imperfection can have the joy of growing.
Do you want to remain a flower, growing, opening? Or do you want to become just a dead stone — perfect, no opening, no growing, no change? Remain imperfect and respect your imperfections, and you will be able to enjoy, celebrate, and you will be able to be healthy and whole. And you will not need to go to a psychiatrist or a psychoanalyst and lie down stupidly on the couch for five years talking nonsense. And there will be no need for any shock treatments either. In fact, if your mental stress disappears, your body will feel immediately relieved.
Many diseases will automatically disappear from the earth if this foolish idea to become perfect disappears. But this has been taught from every nook and corner — from the church, from the temple, from the mosque, from the university. Everywhere, everyone seems to be part of the conspiracy. Everyone seems to be utterly determined to make every person perfect. And not even a single perfect human being has ever existed — cannot exist. Imperfection is the way things are. Imperfection is beautiful, because it has the potential to grow and flow. Perfection is simply death and nothing else. Life is imperfect. And life enjoys imperfection.
I teach you totality, not perfection. And these are two different goals. Perfection is a neurotic goal, totality is a sane goal. Perfection is in the future, totality is herenow. You can be total THIS moment. You can be total in your anger, you can be total in your sex, you can be total in whatsoever you are doing — cleaning the floor or cooking food or writing poetry. You can be total! THIS moment! It needs no preparation, it needs no cultivation.
And by being total you will enter into God, into nirvana. When you are total, the self disappears — that is the beauty of totality. Just try to understand — this is subtle, and of immense significance: when you are total, the self disappears. Have you ever seen any total moments? Then you know, the self immediately disappears. If you are totally in love with a woman or a man, the self disappears. When you are making love the self disappears, if you are total in it. If you have gone for a morning walk and you are TOTAL in it, nothing else matters in those beautiful moments — just the morning and you, you and the morning, the birds and the trees and the sun, and you are completely drowned, utterly drowned in the moment — the self disappears.
The disappearance of the self is benediction. You will know what Buddha means by ‘no-self’. He means utter bliss. He never uses the words ‘utter bliss’ because he knows you — you can make a goal out of it, you can start striving to utter bliss. YOU can make a goal of the perfectionist — you can say, “I cannot rest unless I become perfectly blissful.” Now you have missed the whole point.
If you are total, bliss happens as a by-product, because self disappears. Dancing, singing, listening to music — or just here, being with me, sometimes it happens. I can see it happening to many people. I know when I look at your face whether there is self or not. Your face immediately has a different quality. When I look at you and the self is not there, you are just an opening, a window, I can see God clearly in you. In those moments, God is there, you are not. All clouds have disappeared and the sky is clear, transparent, and the sun is shining.
Whenever your self disappears for a moment, suddenly I can see the luminousness that comes to your face, that quality of magic that arises around you. But we have been taught to live in a non-total way, through the idea of perfection.
I teach you totality. In totality, self disappears. And just the contrary is the case with perfection. With the idea of perfection the self is strengthened. It is an egoist ideal: “I want to be perfect.” ‘I’ cannot be total, because in totality no ‘I’ is ever found. Hence it appeals to the ego too, to become perfect, to be the most perfect man or woman in the world. The ego feels very good, the ego starts striving for it. The ego is involved with the idea of perfection.
With the experience of totality, the ego is simply non-existential. If you learn how to be herenow, slowly slowly you will see that life is beautiful as it is. Life is beautiful in its suchness, in its as-it-is-ness. It needs no improvement. This can be helped through the birth trauma — if you go through the birth trauma, if you live it consciously again, then the whole significance of birth changes.
Right now the womb experience remains in your unconscious — so important that you are striving for it unknowingly. That’s why people go on thinking that in the past, everything was good. This is nothing but a projection because of the womb experience. In all the societies of the world, in all the religions of the world, the idea persists that the golden age was there somewhere in the past. When Adam lived in the Garden of Eden, it was paradise. In India, they say the golden age was very very prehistoric. Then things started falling down — the original sin. We were in a state of bliss and then we started falling. Then we lost it.
This is nothing but the same story, woven philosophically. The original fall is nothing but the fall from the womb. And the memory that before, some time before, far away in the past, everything was golden and beautiful, is nothing but a memory projected on history. Individual memory projected on collective history. And we have to attain to it again, so we become interested in the future.
The past is important, the future is important, only the present is not important. Because we have lost the past — and only in the future, trying, striving, reaching it, some day we will find it. So there are two types of people, and both are not different basically. Religious people say the golden age was in the past. And the non-religious say the golden age is going to be in the future, the utopia is coming. Hindus say the golden age — SATYAYUGA, the age of truth — was in the past. And communists say the age, the golden age — SAMYUGA, the age of equality — is going to come in the future.
They are not different. They look different, because one talks about the past, another talks about the future. But the mechanism is the same: they both want to avoid the present. Communists and anti-communists are not very different. Real spirituality begins with the present and ends with the present. It has no past, it has no future. This moment is all.
So, Adheera, try to get consciously into your unconscious. Try to penetrate to where this desire for perfection is arising. Go into your childhood. YOU have been taught, you have been conditioned layer upon layer, you will have to peel yom onion of the mind. And then finally you will come to the birth trauma, the day you were born.
You can live it again. That is the whole process of rebirthing: you can live it again. And once you live it again, it disappears. And what happens? The total perspective changes. If you can live it again consciously — if you can move back, become a child, a small child, a baby, just coming out of the womb — you will go through a great suffering and agony. You will suffer the same birth pain; you will feel suffocated, your breathing will become hectic. Sometimes the breathing may stop completely, your body will become paralyzed. You may feel you are dying, because that’s what you felt when you were coming out of the womb.
You will feel you are passing through a very narrow tunnel, suffocating, dark. Great fear will arise in your being, you will be shaken and rocked by the fear. You will need somebody to help you. Hence the need for a master. You will need somebody to protect you, you will need somebody to support you — to tell you, “Don’t be afraid, go into it. Let it pass, don’t escape from it.” Once you have passed through it and once you have seen consciously what happened in your birth unconsciously, it is wiped out. This is the process of the mind. Anything lived consciously is wiped out; it has no more grip on your unconscious being.
And then for the first time you open your eyes and you see that the world is beautiful. The willow is green and the rose is red. And then for the first time you see that the womb was good but it is not the goal. The womb was convenient but it was only a preparation. It was not real life; it was a sucker’s life, it was pure exploitation. It was dependence. It knew nothing of freedom — how can it be beautiful? Yes, it was convenient and comfortable, but you were simply vegetating, you were not really alive. You were a contented pig. It has no worth in itself. And then you start seeing that life has beauties which no womb can ever give to you.
All wombs are confined. That’s why after nine months a child HAS to come out of it, because of the confinement. All wombs are prisons — comfortable, warm, but a prison is a prison. Even if it is comfortable, even if it is warm, IT does not make it anything else; it is prison.
You are coming out of the womb into freedom. The whole sky opens up, and the sun and the moon and the trees and the stars — they were not available to you. And the songs of the birds and the music and all the poetry and love — they were not available to you. Your paradise was not much of a paradise, your paradise was just a very stupid paradise.
Once you have seen that it was nothing of worth…. It was needed in those moments because you were growing and you were very tender and delicate and you needed the protection. Once the child is nine months he hankers to come out, he wants to come out, he wants to be free of the womb. He is ready to go into the world and see the joys and the miseries of the world. He is ready to go deep into experiences and into existence.
Once you have lived the birth trauma consciously and you have erased the pain memory, you will be surprised that something like a mist from yom eyes has disappeared. And when you open your eyes the trees will be greener than they had ever been, and everything will be totally different. You will see the world in psychedelic colours — you will not need any drug trip for it.
People are taking drugs just to create something which is very natural. There is no need to destroy your body chemically for it. You can just go through the birth trauma, and you can come back, and the whole world and the whole experience of the world becomes psychedelic.
It is more colourful. It is a constant jubilation. There is no end to this jubilation — from beginningless beginning to endless end, it continues. It is a song ad infinitum. Once you start seeing this, life begins. That’s what Jesus means when he says, “Unless you are born again, you will not enter into my kingdom of God.” He is talking about rebirthing!
In the East, we have a name for a man who has become alert and total, we call him DWIJA — twice-born. He has attained to a second birth. The first birth is BOUND to be unconscious. And if you live only with the first birth, you will remain a perfectionist. Once you are twice-born, consciously born, and have erased all the pain-memory of the first birth, you will live the life of totality. Not with the desire for perfection — all desire for perfection disappears, because you see this is the most perfect world, and you are the most perfect person, and everybody is perfect, and all is as it should be.
When you see all is as it should be, great gratitude arises. Prayer is natural. You bow down to the earth, you bow down to the sun, you bow down to existence. That is the religious quality — not that you go to church and think you are religious, and you bow down to Christ and think you are religious: you are not! Nothing of the sort. You are simply afraid; you are thinking Christ will save you.
Nobody can save you, unless you save yourself. No Christ, no Buddha, can save you. But you can save yourself. And it is your responsibility to save yourself. And the way to save yourself is to be reborn, born again. Remember, if you suffer from the desire for perfection — and almost everybody does — then make it a point that you have to go back into your birth process and you have to erase the whole tape. And then look again with empty eyes, and you will be surprised.
I have been working on many people. And whenever they come across their birth memory, strange unbelievable things happen. I was helping a young man to go through. He came to a point when he almost started suffocating — crying, weeping, and then he became paralyzed. For a moment, everything stopped — even breathing. It was such agony. Then he opened his eyes, looked at me, and he said, “This is strange. I am smelling chloroform and the smell that surrounds a hospital.”
I asked him, “Were you born in a hospital?” He said, “I don’t know, I have never asked my mother.” We checked with the mother and she said, “Yes, he was born in a hospital. And I was in such pain that I was given a heavy dose of chloroform.”
The memory of the chloroform entered into his cells. He could still smell it — after twenty-eight years!
But once you pass through all these memories they start losing their control over you. Going through the birth is the first step. If you can do it, then the second step is going through the death that preceded your birth, nine months before. If you can go through your birth, you can easily go through your death. And once you have gone through your death, your past life becomes available to you. And then the whole stupidity of it….
That’s why these Buddha sayings, these Ikkyu sutras, look so depressing to you — because they are based on a totally different understanding of life. These people have known their past lives and they see the stupidity of it. You cannot see. You think you are doing great things; you are not aware.
If you have been in love for many many lives, again and again, and always failed and failed and failed, and if you come to know about it, if you can SEE it, then the love affair that you are in today will simply become invalid, just through that experience. Now you know that these are the ways you have always been deceiving yourself. And it is a repetition, a wheel that goes on moving.
These sutras are not philosophical sutras, they don’t propound a doctrine. They are based on a totally different experience of life, on a different vision. So sometimes you will feel disturbed.
The other day, Arup was saying to somebody, “These heavy talks, and Osho has called the series ‘Take It Easy’!”
That’s why I have called it ‘Take It Easy’. It ain’t easy. It is difficult to take it, it is VERY difficult to take it. It is almost impossible to take it, because it will shatter your whole life pattern. It ain’t easy, that’s why I have called the whole series ‘Take It Easy’.
Truth is that whose contradictory is also true.
Source – Osho Book “Take it Easy, Vol 2”