Importance of Imperfection | May 2002

FMBR Editorial: May, 2002

Importance of Imperfection

Dean Brown

God must like imperfection! He/she creates so much imperfection in this physical world. Not in all of Nature are any two things alike. If there is a perfect pine tree, dragon fly, amoeba, person -- then at most it would be one among hoards of others. And then what criterion do we have to recognize the perfect one?

We can readily imagine a perfect circle. We can prove once and for all that there are 180 degrees in the three angles of a triangle. We can always be sure that pi is the ratio of the circumference and the diameter of any circle. The theorem of Pythagoras always holds -- perfectly. But things in Nature are never "just right," never "perfectly square." It is meaningless to think about a perfect cat -- we don't have any way of defining or recognizing one. Can society be improved? -- or are the many ideals for society around the world merely arbitrary and context dependent?

A partial answer to that question has evolved through the millennia in our conception of ethics. This is most clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations signed in 1945, and several similar documents ratified since then. But that is a continuing process. We can improve it, but we can never get it right. Nature (and Human Nature) being what it is, we will never get it right. We will never be satisfied! Imperfection is eternally with us. Ancient societies have honored the importance of imperfection. For example, the sacred rugs of Persia are always made with a deliberate imperfection in recognition of the inherent imperfection that God has created into Nature.

Why is healing of imperfections so important in the wisdom traditions? Why is there sickness and infirmity in this world? Why is the Foundation for Mind-Being Research concerned with the body? What is the relation between health and metaphysics? Why do we have aches and pains and hurts? Do we get sick through the grace of God? The answer to the questions lies in a seldom recognized truth: the process of healing, overcoming imperfection, is the process of evolution and growth. That is the blessing. This struggle to overcome the imperfect reflects the underlying force from which evolution has emerged. This eternal quest for improvement literally creates the dynamic of the cosmos. As Rumi, the great Sufi mystic, puts it: "Therefore O needful Man, intensify your need." Everything that we have of true value, we have gained through chaos, adversity, challenge and effort. The power of forgiveness is based upon the fact that imperfection represents a cosmic law of God. Therefore, we need to accept AND LOVE the inherent imperfection in everything and everybody.

Dr. Dean Brown, May 2002