06/08/2010 11:24 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Perfection: Aristotle versus Buddha

"The Buddha lived in India five centuries before Jesus and almost two centuries before Aristotle. The first step in his belief system was to break through the black-and-white world of words, pierce the bivalent veil and see the world as it is, see it filled with 'contradictions,' with things and not-things, with roses that are both red and not-red, with A and not-A. You find this [...] theme in Eastern belief systems old and new, from Lao-tze's Taoism to the modern Zen in Japan. Either-or versus contradiction. A or not-A versus A and not-A. Aristotle versus the Buddha." (B. Kosko)

Seeing yourself as either perfect or imperfect is black-and-white thinking. Time to update your understanding of perfection from the standard Western, psychologically toxic, dualistic view of perfection to a more self-accepting, psychologically healthier, nondual view of perfection: you are neither perfect nor imperfect or, if you prefer, you are perfectly imperfect. Same thingless thing!

Perfectionism suffers from Aristotelian dichotomies and bivalences: it cuts life in half, into "what is" and "what should be," into "perfect" and "imperfect," into "actual" and "ideal." A perfectionistic mind is sore with the either/or self-fragmentation. Time to learn to accept your whole self in its existential continuity. In other words, time to stop falling onto this Aristotelian sword of black-and-white self-judgment.

Yes, you are doing the best that you can at any given point in time and you can still do better. Time to perfect perfection!


Self-Acceptance Manifesto