Home » Features » The Perfect Problem of Being Perfectionist

No one is too imperfect to practise the Dharma,
while we practise the Dharma to perfect ourselves

– Stonepeace

Despite considerable study yet inadequate understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, we might hesitate to truly put them into practice due to being perfectionistic. We might think that we are too ‘bad’ in thought, word and deed to practise the Dharma. However, we practise the Dharma precisely because we are not good or pure enough. It becomes a ‘perfect problem’ if we think we are too imperfect to practise the Dharma perfectly. The truth is, only the Buddhas have mastered perfect practice of the Dharma. Before becoming Buddhas, we all fall short from perfection to various extents. A Buddhist is not a Buddha (yet) – but is one who strives to become more and more like a Buddha, and the only way to do this is via practice of the Dharma.

There is a process needed, to get to where we want, from where we are. The bridge of Dharma practice that links here to Enlightenment needs to be crossed step by step. The path to Buddhahood does not consists of a single giant leap across a wide chasm. It is not a matter of having the confidence to leap or not, but being willing to start taking baby steps or not. Unless one is the manifestation of a fully enlightened Buddha, no one is ‘good enough’ to practise the Dharma perfectly instantly, which is why we need to practise it as constantly as we can. No matter how ‘bad’ we feel we are, what would really be bad would be to give up the aspiration to practise the Dharma to better ourselves. We just need to do our best in the moment.

Even if the outcome is not the absolute best, it is alright in the moment. The point is to keep trying harder. Just focus on doing the best, not focus on our best not being good enough, because it is always better than not trying at all. It is time to stop fretting about our imperfections and start perfecting our practice. The only true imperfection is not taking action to advance towards perfection. The more we just harp on our imperfections, the more we remain thoroughly imperfect. Perfectionists must lower expectations of quick breakthroughs though. Progress is possible only when we set the resolution to practise the Dharma and are disciplined enough to stick to it, while progress is always impossible if we do not even want to try.

If we are already perfect,
there would be no need to practise the Dharma,
but practice does make perfect.

– Stonepeace

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