Question: I am so confused. I want to perfect myself, but have lost all idea what effort to make in what way. Your presence makes me want to let go, but much else urges me toward a desperate programme of self-renewal. What can i do?
Osho: Perfectionism is a neurosis. It is an illness. And the more you try to become perfect, the more frustrated you will become. The goal of perfection has led the whole of humanity towards madness; the earth has almost become a madhouse. I don’t teach perfection. What do I teach? I teach wholeness, not perfection. Be whole; be total; but don’t think about perfection.
Be whole. Whatsoever you do, do it totally. What is the difference? When you do it totally you are not worried about the result. You did it totally. You are finished. More you could not do. You are not holding anything; you have put all your energy in it, you were whole in it. Now if you fail, you fail. If you succeed, you succeed. But whether you fail or you succeed, you are fulfilled all the same. A deep contentment arises because you have done whatsoever you could do.
You can never be perfect. How can the part be perfect? You can never be perfect. Whatsoever you do, you can always imagine that it could have been better — whatsoever you do, you can imagine that better could have been done.
I have heard about a great painter. He was seventy years old, and one day he finished his painting and started crying and weeping. His disciples surrounded the master and said, “Master, why are you crying? What has happened?”
The master said, “I cannot see any imperfection in this painting. It seems I am dead, finished. It seems I have lost my imagination; that’s why I’m crying. This is the first time I cannot see any defect in my painting. I must have lost my imagination.”
Whatsoever you do, you can always imagine better. So a perfectionist is always in misery. He can never be satisfied, never; that is not for him. I want you to be whole. Whatsoever you do, you do totally and you are not concerned with the result. You are only concerned that you are not withholding anything. You love; you love totally. You meditate; you meditate totally. You dance; you dance totally. You just become the dance and forget the dancer completely. Whether the dance was perfect or not is not the question at all.
And who is to decide? Only one thing you have to decide — whether you were totally in it or not. If you were totally in it, I say it is perfect — if you were not totally in it, I say it is imperfect. That is my meaning of perfection.
It is not comparative. If you dance, you may not dance like Udaya Shanker. Comparatively your dance may be poorer than Udaya Shanker’s. But there is a possibility you may be more total in it than Udaya Shanker himself in his dance. Then I say you are more perfect: because it is not a question of form; it is a question of your inner involvement. If the ego drops, then it is whole, then it is total.
I have heard that there was a man in Socrates’ time — his name was Alcibiades. He was a perfectionist and of course, he was the most miserable man. Always worried, because everything is going wrong. He was very rich, he could purchase anything. But he wasn’t happy because there was always something else to be purchased, something else to be brought to his treasury. He travelled all over the world, but whenever he would come back to Athens he was more miserable than before.
He came to see Socrates and he asked Socrates, “Why am I so miserable? — and I have travelled all over the world. I am the most travelled man in Athens, and one would think that travelling gives experience and maturity. But nothing like that has happened to me. I have become more and more miserable. And I go to the far-off countries and then come back, from India, from China, but I’m not gaining any experience. I am becoming more and more imperfect day by day, rather than becoming perfect. What is the trouble with me?”
Socrates said, “Because you take yourself always with yourself. Wherever you go you take yourself with yourself; that is the trouble. This time you go alone. Leave yourself in Athens. Then there is a possibility of maturity.”
If you drop the ego, there is a possibility you may become whole. The moment you become whole, you become holy. Then you are healed; then all wounds disappear. Then you are perfect in your total aloneness. It is not comparative — that you are more perfect than others. No. You are simply perfect; you are a unique piece; there is nobody else like you; you are only like yourself. In your wholeness you are perfect, and a deep contentment comes. It becomes a climate around you.