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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The State of Perfection

History is a many-pronged fork pointing to as many different concepts about the perfect state of the self as it does about God.

In classical Hinduism, there is the idea of perfection through the merging of the soul with God. The soul is supposed to lose its individual identity and leave the cycle of birth and rebirth. The aim is to get away from this world of "nothing but suffering" and spend the rest of eternity "merged in the light of God."

There is also a belief that the soul transmigrates through 8,400,000 species and then ultimately arrives at the Godhead as a "perfected being." Some of these perfect beings are believed to voluntarily take rebirth here to help those less fortunate than themselves. There are so many messengers, prophets, saints and sages, supposedly here to the salvation of humanity; yet their teachings are at variance. Each one has a different thing to say and a different way of showing it.

In the Judaeo-Christian philosophy, the idea of perfection has been reduced to the goal of one life and a thereafter of either the bliss of "heaven" or the damnation of "hell". These alternatives are meant to inspire hope or fear as the basis of action. Faith takes the lead. Without an understanding of reincarnation it is impossible to explain, for example, the purpose of a baby who has a life of one day and thereafter eternity in "heaven" or "hell". This contravenes the law of karma. How could such an insignificant cause give such an extended effect? In recent Eastern and Western traditions, the possibility of perfection has hardly been mentioned. The majority of beliefs assert that the perfect state only comes after death and that all efforts should be directed towards a good "after life".

In contrast to the idea of perfection in "another region", there is the idea of a perfect life in a perfect society in this physical world. The ancient Egyptians believed in such a perfect paradise-known as the "Osirian Fields"-where men and women lived as equals. There was harmony and an inexhaustible abundance of fruit and grains; complete prosperity. In order to go there after death, on the day of judgement, each one's heart was weighed against a feather. If the heart was heavier than a feather, the soul was sent to a fiery hell. The legends of all the religions pertaining to "paradise on earth" are strikingly similar to this Egyptian idea.

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