October 15, 2015

Finding the Perfect Man

That title gets me in trouble before I even get started. But there was a time when we could say “man” and readers would understand that the writer might be referring to “mankind” or hu-“man” beings or the species in general… This is the case here the “Perfect Person” but I am looking back to history’s reference about the condition of the “Ideal Man” (Aristotle’s phrase) the “perfect person” as would be described by Jesus, Lao Tzu, Plato or Buddha and many others. What is the “perfect man,” what do we see when this sort of reference is being made? It is always a reference or comparison to the Supreme or God when found in the ancient writings. No matter what philosophy you derive out of you have a definition of a “perfect human”.  Normally the reference immediately precedes the description of the “imperfect’s” fall from “grace.”

Image of painting of knight slaying dragon

Honorable Knight slays dragon and saves the princess.

Because of our animal (ego) persona we are poorly equipped to rise to a state of perfection in our physical lives. There are a million reasons why this is the case, all very obvious, but some examples are worth mentioning. We exist in a physical space with natural conditions (weather, geology) for which we must adapt. Adding more or less clothing for hot or cold conditions. Adapting to drought or tectonic or geologic conditions causing sudden disasters (flooding, avalanches, mud-slides, earthquakes, etc.). We are animal with genetic drive to procreate (although our intellect is overriding that genetic drive these days) and therefore there are the social relationships of couples and children that create all sorts of challenges for our animal intellect. There are all the social/cultural issues that affect how we handle ourselves on a day-to-day basis. In a work environment, community setting, and economic situations.

The Perfect Man as Ideal Standard

When I was putting my thoughts together regarding the Fundamental Principles I kept returning to how these principles would relate to our condition as “perfect humans” because quite frequently we are much better when we have a very high ideal to reach for. This is exactly the situation that Jesus and Plato for instance were creating with their examples of the “ideal man” or “perfect man”.  They were describing the “ideal” formula for us to look up to and aspire to be.

This is the case throughout history. We find a great leader and measure our leadership skills against theirs. Or a great athlete with superior skills and we wish to be at least that good. If we achieve that level we are looking to the next best (ours or someone else) to be. Great (ideal) people are always attempting to out perform the current standard; and this is as it should be. This is the message that the ancients were constantly describing. (Buddhism is slightly different, but the individual is encouraged to strive for Enlightenment, which is the highest state of spiritual consciousness; the standard that was established by Gautama Buddha and the practice of the Middle Way. It is difficult to get higher than the highest!)

Unique Individuals

We are supposed to be smart, knowledgeable about ourselves and realize that we are set in a social system of other intellects with each of us capable of assessing our own condition and performance against others. We are unique in this way, there is not another species that performs in this fashion. This is part of the difference that makes us human. We can, first of all, possess a vision of an “ideal individual” and then with every ounce of our being attempt to live up to that standard. No other animal on earth has that potential. The ancients were encouraging us to do just that. Daily strive for perfection…