Perfect: pure, unstained, unblemished, just right
Our last installment of Perfect is sparked by the words of the Heart Sutra, “not stained, not separated from stains.” This post is also the result of watching a dad and his young son boogey down a sidewalk to music playing at Trader Joe’s. Their joy and crazy flailings were joyously perfect and a treat for anyone who happened to be nearby.
Joy is something that is perfect. It is always pure. Joy is not stained by events or feelings that have happened before the joy. Wondrously, joy is only itself.
The Heart Sutra speaks of emptiness as being pure. Emptiness in this context is voidness or infinitely of Being. How can emptiness be both these qualities when they seem opposite? The Heart Sutra is reminding us of the emptiness of inherent or innate self. In this way, everything is void of an innate self. As we contemplate this, we discover that we are not left with less. Instead, our frames of self-reference widen. As we look for our “self” in name, hair, address, gender, or such, it cannot be found. Instead, a revelation dawns: labels cannot describe Being; it is beyond the words and definitions that so easily describe what we do, how we feel, or who we think we are.
This emptiness is unstained; and the through our contemplations we have touched the edge of the Perfection of Wisdom. This wisdom is a maha-wisdom, a great wisdom. Like all wisdom it is born from our experiences. Yet, the distinction with this Wisdom is that it is always expressing a new edge, and always just right. Once we deduce for ourselves that we are not the labels used to describe us, then we are ready to explore other labels, other knowns that have seemed equally tidy and true. In so doing, we will find an unblemished nature to many things that troubled us before. They are perfect as they are.
Why did this father hear the song playing outside of the grocery store as an invitation to dance down the sidewalk? Why didn’t everyone else? And why, when his wife and young daughter came out of the store, did they join in the frolic? Because of emptiness. They were free to dance and spark joy in others because of emptiness. As a result, we experienced their unblemished pure joy in the moment. Their spontaneity was unstained, yet not separated from the stains within other people’s minds that did not allow them to consider dancing. If my body worked better, I would have joined them. Instead, I smiled from emptiness.