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Chapter 13: Make It Your Only Longing

- consists only of one word: purna. This word purna can be translated in three ways. The first meaning can be perfection; that’s how it is being translated ordinarily by the scholars, pundits, professors. But that is the lowest meaning of it, the grossest meaning of it, for the simple reason that the idea of perfection is inapplicable to existence.

Only in one way can existence be said to be perfect, and that is that existence is perfect in its imperfectness. If existence were really perfect then there would be no possibility of evolution; perfection would mean death, absolute death. But life is growing, not only on the outside but on the inside too. Life is continuously moving like a river towards the ocean, towards the horizon - which always appears to come closer and closer, but still a distance remains; one never absolutely arrives.

In other words, life is a pilgrimage without a goal - and that’s its beauty, that’s why it is alive. If the goal is achieved, then there is no meaning left; then there is no point in going on existing. Perfection will mean suicide; hence the meaning of purna as perfect is only scholarly. It is used by people who have not experienced existence, who have studied the scriptures but who have not merged into the ocean of life, who have not tasted it. It is a childish interpretation.

A first-grade schoolteacher was taking her pupils on a field trip to the local zoo. Each child was given a turn at guessing the names of the various animals. The camel, lion, giraffe, bear and the elephant all were named correctly.

“Now it’s your turn,” the teacher said to a little girl. She pointed to a deer and said, “What’s the name of that animal?”

The little girl hesitated for a long time, and the teacher tried to prompt her by saying, “Think hard. What does your mother call your father at home?”

“So that’s what a baboon looks like!” the little girl exclaimed.

That is the most childish meaning and it is dangerous too, because all perfectionism leads to neurosis. The perfectionist is not a healthy and sane person. He is bound to go insane because he is always trying to be perfect, and life is always imperfect. He is trying to go against the current, he is trying to go against the law, the universal law: aes dhammo sanantano. He is not flowing with existence, he is not in a let-go. He is trying hard to do the impossible - that is an ego trip.

So those who have interpreted the word purna as perfection have given it a wrong color. But the Sanskrit language allows it; its flexibility is such, its poetry is such that you can play with any word in many ways.

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