Perfection vs Purification: What’s the Difference?

A few years ago, I was at a spiritual gathering of 50 or so people. The location was remote–off the grid, in fact—so meals were prepared using a big gas stove and as little electricity as possible. I was recruited to make the coffee during breakfast. This task involved a large pot of boiling water, a small coffee bean grinder, two giant French presses, and the perpetual filling and refilling of the serving carafes. People were genuinely working hard at this “retreat” and coffee was high on the list of things-to-not-screw-up. Perfection, in this situation, simply meant full cups of good coffee.

Everyone in the kitchen had their hands full, as three times each day a healthy spread of nourishing food was prepared and served. At one point, I overheard two of the breakfast cooks commiserating over something that wasn’t going well. It may have been the bread being toasted in the gas oven. “I guess that’s the downside of being a perfectionist,” one of them said.

I paused a beat and then interjected, “Is there an upside?”

“Yes!” and “Of course!” they both cried out at once.

“Whether we realize it or not, we associate a joyful life with a perfect one. We can’t enjoy life if we’re not perfect—or so we think—nor can we enjoy our neighbors or our lovers or our situation in life. So let’s pause right here because this is one of humanity’s most misguided beliefs…Essentially, we demand perfection, and that’s just not what’s happening.”

– From Pearls: A Mind-Opening Collection of 17 Fresh Spiritual Teachings, Chapter 9: Why Flubbing on Perfection is the Way to Find Joy
Perfection vs Purification: Earth is the perfect place to purify ourselves.

How perfectionism leads to conflict

A short while later, the carefully prepared breakfast had been spread across several tables. People began to gather and form a circle to say a prayer. Just about then, one of the hardy souls who had been working half the night, slipped into the dining room to grab some breakfast.

Unbeknownst to the breakfast cook, he had been told earlier by the head cook to just break into the line and grab what he needed during mealtime, since he needed to get back to his task. And so, without realizing he was interrupting the delicate timing of the serving process, he helped himself to a bowl of oatmeal, minutes ahead of the prayer.

And, boy oh boy, did that upset the apple cart of one of the perfectionists. Tense words were exchanged. For the perfect breakfast setting had now been undone. She felt disrespected. He felt hungry, tired, and now irritated and confused. Misunderstandings were all around, and later, there were also some tears.

“It’s time to connect the dots between how our need for perfection alienates us from our true selves, which in turn messes up our chances for a joyful life…For continually striving for perfection—and remember, perfection doesn’t even exist here on Earth—keeps us from accepting what truly is…

And what’s the truth again? That this world is imperfect. That’s reality. What’s the reality, or truth, of the current state of our soul? We don’t accept imperfection. We need to face the reality of both of these truths—one about the world and the other about the state of our soul.”

– From Pearls, Chapter 9: Why Flubbing on Perfection is the Way to Find Joy

Why can’t things just be perfect?

The thing that fights against perfection is duality. And for us humans, there is no away around it. Duality exists here because Earth is a sphere with influences from both the dark side and the light side. You can read about how this came to be in Holy Moly: The Story of Duality, Darkness and Daring Rescue.

For now, suffice it to say that as long as we are in the cycles of incarnating on Earth, we must make peace with the presence of both the light and the dark. The good and the bad. The right and the wrong. The pleasure and the pain. Because both tend to touch everything in life.

How did we get here?

Long story short, we were once all angels living in peace and harmony in a place some might call heaven. Then God initiated something that is known as the Fall. It was a direct result of the way we were using our free will. And it landed us in a world of darkness.

Ever since, we are slowly making our way back home to the light-filled world of God. And Earth is a stop partway on our journey. By the time we are ready to come here, we must have developed at least a little awareness of our goodness, or Higher Self.

But during our time spent in various dark spheres, our inner light has become covered over by layers of darkness. This is our Lower Self. We are each responsible for the creation of our Lower Self, and Lower Self is responsible for the bad half of life.

What do we mean by “bad”?

By “bad” we mean all light-defying forms of negativity, destructiveness, rebelliousness, resistance and cruelty. It includes our faults and our fears, our hate and our spite, and our intention to stay separate—from ourselves, from others and from God. Plus, our unwillingness to see our part in every disharmony. For each conflict we face and every hard pain we feel stems from the presence of Lower Self.

And the thing pinning all these Lower Self facets into place? Untruth. In other words, when there’s disharmony, there’s always some kind of wrong conclusion, mistaken belief or out-and-out lie involved. In short, there’s a misunderstanding. And until we uncover and correct each and every hidden untruth, we will struggle.

We can choose to unearth our hidden untruths and unravel whatever is stuck to them. Or we can continue to turn a blind eye.

The good news is that each time we find another aspect of our Lower Self and unwind it, we find another way to live in peace. But for this to happen, we must become willing to accept what is currently not good—not perfect, to our way of seeing things—so we can sort out the situation.

“By becoming aware of your limitations, you eliminate the limitations. By becoming aware of your unreality, you live in greater reality. And by becoming aware of your lack of love–clothed perhaps in what appears to be love, but is not—you will have more love.

The feeling of strength, of well-being, of fulfillment, of trust in yourself, of security, can grow only by facing in yourself what you would rather not see. It is always a temptation to look away from yourself.”

– Pathwork Guide Lecture #115: Perceptions, Determination, Love as Aspects of Consciousness

How do we improve ourselves?

The only way to improve our lot in life is by searching within ourselves for the source of our problems. Then we must clean up, or purify, what has become dark, cloudy and hidden. In doing so, we restore our light. We can express this process of personal healing in many ways, including self-development, self-discovery, self-knowing, self-understanding, self-awareness, self-transformation, self-realization and self-purification.

No matter how we describe it, we must come to know all aspects of ourselves. And this process will be a gradual one. For the Fall was a long, gradual process—we had many chances to reconsider and make better choices—and so the climb back to the unified state of connection—to being one with all that is—will also necessarily be a long, challenging journey.

And remember, not all beings participated in the Fall. Those who remained true to God, and to Christ, remained pure. And they are now working tirelessly alongside us to help guide our steps. So as we do our spiritual work of healing—either by consciously following a spiritual path or by letting life teach us the lessons we need to learn—we will one day become pure again.

Perhaps we can sense an echo of that pure state, making us believe that perfection can be ours. It can. And it will. But not while we are living on this dualistic plane of existence. For now, our work is to grapple with the presence of Lower Self as we work to regain more and more clarity, and therefore more purity.  

“The trouble, as is often the case, is our dualistic either/or attitude. Either we strive for immediate perfection—ignoring what’s still not perfect—or we give up. We think that if we accept that we’re not perfect, we’ll get stuck there.”

– From Pearls, Chapter 9: Why Flubbing on Perfection is the Way to Find Joy

Purification requires use of free will

Prior to the Fall, we were all pure spirits to whom God had given various talents and essential divine qualities. We were living in endless paradise and expanding our gifts for all of eternity. We were also allowed to use our free will to choose to align with God’s will and enjoy such divine freedom forever.

But we are not required to live in bliss. Having the ability to exercise our free will—to be able to go against the will of God—is at the very heart of what it means to have free will. For without such freedom to choose, we wouldn’t have free will.

“It simply can’t be beauty, harmony, wisdom, bliss and love if it’s forced on us, against our will—and also against our own recognition of the wisdom and perfection of God’s laws. Because that would be a God of slavery, not a God of freedom, even if we would be very happy slaves.”

­– Holy Moly, Chapter 1: The Good Lord Willing

If we are now human, this means we opted to make another choice. We opted to follow our own misguided will over God’s loving will for us. And frankly, we are still paying a heavy price for this decision. For pain, disharmony and conflict are the consequences we experience whenever we choose to go against the will of God.

And many of us have been going against that grain for a very long time. By now, we no longer see how we are the ones making this choice. For many, in fact, we’ve thrown away our freedom so completely we’ve become lost in a world that feels like a living hell.

“So every created creature—human or spirit—gets to choose: do we want to live according to God’s laws or not? Now here is an important key to understanding how evil, darkness and cruelty have come into being. But God is not the one who created evil. No, God created us with the capacity to freely choose. We can follow his happy laws and live happily ever after. Or not.”

Holy Moly, Chapter 1: The Good Lord Willing

But what a gift to have the chance to try again! To make new choices, to follow different plans. Until eventually we discover that by aligning our will with God’s will we ultimately create true joy and fulfillment for ourselves and those around us.

For when our inner light is shining freely, we are at one with God. Then we are home. And Earth—even with all its difficulties—is the perfect place for us to learn this.

We must learn to choose the light

Since Earth came into being through the longings of Fallen spirits to return home, dark spirits from dark spheres have always had access to us. They lead us by tempting us to follow the path of least resistance, which is the way of the Lower Self. At the same time, the pure spirits remaining in heaven have always been allowed to communicate with us. For without influences from the worlds of light, we would stay lost in the maze of our own inner darkness.

Along the way, then, many pure beings have come to Earth to help us. Due to their brightness, they tend to have a lasting influence on us. Because we resonate with the radiance of their light. After all, light is the divine substance at the center of us all. And one day, we will return to living in a bright-and-shiny state.

“Each one of us, in fact, possess some of this same substance. It is what is referred to as the Higher Self, or divine spark. This is what we are liberating when we do the gradual work of spiritual development.”

Holy Moly, Chapter 2: Ushering in Christ

Growing toward perfection

The only way to return to our original pure state is by becoming willing to change and grow. We must learn to make choices that align with the good, with our own inner Higher Self. We must learn to make the choices that serve our own best interest as well as that of everyone involved. That’s the way we purify our souls and move in the direction of perfection.

And such a learning process is never ever going to be simple, quick or easy. Or perfect. It cannot be perfect because it always involves the consequences that come from people living, at least in part, from their Lower Self.

And it’s our own contribution to misery—which of course comes from our own Lower Self—that we spend lifetimes covering up, avoiding and thereby continuing to do. We wall off our Lower Self with inner blindness, and then pretend it doesn’t even exist.

“It’s our haste and shame about not being perfect that create rigid walls, obliterating the possibility for change.”

– From Pearls, Chapter 9

The goal of life: To know ourselves

To say we don’t know ourselves is to say we don’t see what we are doing. Meaning, we don’t see our own dark Lower Self nature. And in our blindness we remain in the dark, causing more pain and struggle for everyone, including ourselves.

Here’s what else we don’t see: There is a way out. We must come to see that we hold the key to unlocking our pain. That all the light we could ever want lives inside us, and we are the ones blocking it.

“People, we don’t have to be problem-free. In truth, we cannot be. We don’t have to be perfect to live fully, have more awareness and enjoy more fulfilling experiences. Accepting our imperfections, in fact, makes us less imperfect and flexible enough to change.”

– From Pearls, Chapter 9

Every single bit of Lower Self was once originally an aspect of light. And the only way to find our way home is by slowly re-purifying ourselves and restoring our divine nature. To do anything less is to waste a perfectly good lifetime.

–Jill Loree

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