PERFECTIONThis and the following section describe the perfect virtues of the person who is at one with the Absolute, who is firmly established in Truth, purity, and integrity, who is without sin or bondage to worldly corruption, who exhibits the fullness of sanctifying grace. Such a person may be called a saint, a sage, an arahant, a siddha, a Buddha, a perfect man, or by other names. There is remarkable unanimity among religions as to what characterizes the realized or perfected human being.
Such a person embodies in himself the perfections of Ultimate Reality. Therefore he is truly in the Image of God, pp. 207-13. Furthermore, the saint has overcome selfish desires and is purified of any feelings of lust, greed, or other cravings. He is unfettered by attachment to worldly concerns for wealth, power, or reputation. He is free from bondage to sin and does not have any desire to commit sin: in Augustine's words, he is free to "love God and do what you will." He is unified within himself and has dominion over himself. He has risen above the world of change and conditions and therefore attains immortality. These characteristics of the saint are described in the passages collected in this section.
You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.48
Abu Huraira reported God's Messenger as saying, "The believers whose faith is most perfect are those who have the best character."
2. Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud and Darimi
Matthew 5.48: In context, the perfection of God which is most stressed by Jesus is total impartiality and unconditional love, even to the point of loving one's enemies. See Matthew 5.43-48, p. 1000.
Whose minds are well perfected in the Factors of Enlightenment, who,
without clinging, delight in the giving up of grasping, they, the
corruption-free, shining ones, have attained Nibbana even in this world.
3. Buddhism. Dhammapada 89
One should be known as true who in his heart bears truth--
His impurity of falsehood cast off, his person should be washed clean.
One should be known as true who to truth is devoted in love.
4. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Asa-ki-Var, M.1, p. 468
He who has achieved it cannot either be drawn into friendship or repelled,
Cannot be benefited, cannot be harmed,
Cannot either be raised or humbled,
And for that reason is highest of all creatures under heaven.
5. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 56
God the Almighty has said..., "My servant will not approach Me with
anything dearer than that which I put on him as an obligation; and he
continues presenting Me with works of supererogation, that I may love him.
And when I love him, I am his hearing by which he hears, his sight by which
he sees, his hand by which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks."
6. Islam. 40 Hadith of an-Nawawi 38
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all
ungodliness; and if you shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and love
God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is his grace sufficient
for you, that by his grace you may be perfect in Christ; and if by the
grace of God you are perfect in Christ, you can in no way deny the power of God.
7. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Book of Mormon, Moroni 10.32-33
Dhammapada 89: The seven Factors of Enlightenment are: mindfulness, searching the scriptures, energy, zest, tranquillity, contemplation, and evenmindedness. Cf. Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom 211-12, p. 656; Bhagavad Gita 5.21-23, p. 199. Moroni 10.32-33: Cf. Ephesians 4.7-16, pp. 713f.
Rabbi Me'ir said, "Whosoever labors in the Torah for its own sake merits many things; and not only so, but the whole world is indebted to him: he is called friend, beloved, a lover of the All-present, a lover of mankind; it clothes him in meekness and reverence; it fits him to become just, pious, upright, and faithful; it keeps him far from sin, and brings him near to virtue."
8. Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 6.1
In this way [the superior] man comes to resemble heaven and earth; he is not in conflict with them. His wisdom embraces all things, and his Tao brings order into the whole world; therefore he does not err. He is active everywhere but does not let himself be carried away. He rejoices in heaven and has knowledge of fate, therefore he is free of care. He is content with his circumstances and genuine in his kindness, therefore he can practice love.
9. Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.3
The Supreme Soul (paramatman) is free from birth, old age, and death; he is
supreme, pure, and devoid of the eight karmas; he possesses infinite
knowledge, intuition, bliss, and potency; he is indivisible,
indestructible, and inexhaustible. Besides, he is supersensuous and
unparalleled, is free from obstructions, merit, demerit, and rebirth, and
is eternal, steady, and independent.
10. Jainism. Kundakunda, Niyamasara 176-77
The Supreme Reality stands revealed in the consciousness of those who have conquered themselves. They live in peace, alike in cold and heat, pleasure and pain, praise and blame.
They are completely filled by spiritual wisdom and have realized the Self. Having conquered their senses, they have climbed to the summit of human consciousness. To such people a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same. They are equally disposed to family, enemies, and friends, to those who support them and those who are hostile, to the good and the evil alike. Because they are impartial, they rise to great heights.
11. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 6.7-9
By fullness of leadership,
the Wise Lord shall grant powerful communion
Of perfection and Immortality,
of Right, Dominion and Good Thought--
To him who is a sworn friend;
to him by spirit and by actions!
Clear are these to the man of insight,
as to a knowing one by mind.
He upholds good Dominion,
and Right by words and by actions.
He, O Lord of Wisdom,
shall be Thy most helping associate!
12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 31.21-22
I Ching, Great Commentary 1.4.3: Cf. I Ching 35, p. 209. Niyamasara 176-77: Cf. Acarangasutra 5.123-40, p. 89; Pancastikaya 170, p. 197. Bhagavad Gita 6.7-9: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6, p. 391; Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.8-9, p. 586; Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.23, p. 562.
None of you truly believes until his inclination is in accordance with what I have brought.
13. Islam. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 41
A novice asked the Buddha, "What is goodness and what is greatness?" The Buddha replied, "To follow the Way and hold to what is true is good. When the will is in conformity with the Way, that is greatness."
14. Buddhism. Sutra of Forty-two Sections 15
Of the saying, He upon whom neither love of mastery, vanity, resentment, nor covetousness have any hold may be called Good, the Master said, "Such a one has done what is difficult; but whether he should be called Good I do not know."
15. Confucianism. Analects 14.2
Sincerity [Absolute Truth] is the Way of Heaven; the attainment of Sincerity is the Way of man. He who possesses Sincerity achieves what is right without effort, understands without thinking, and naturally and easily is centered on the Way. He is a sage.
16. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 20.18
The whole world is sustained by God's charity; and the righteous are sustained by their own force.
17. Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17b
No one born of God commits sin; for God's nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
18. Christianity. Bible, 1 John 3.9
Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 41: Compare the hadith from Abu Nuaym, p. 208. Analects 14.2: Confucius considered goodness to be the loftiest ideal and doubted if any human could attain to it. Cf. Analects 4.6, p. 384; Analects 7.33, p. 655; compare Mark 10.17-18, p. 655. Doctrine of the Mean 20.18: Cf. Mencius II.A.2, p. 740; Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. 1 John 3.9: Cf. Sun Myung Moon, 10-20-73, p. 145.
One who is rich in the enlightenment will not indulge in any sinful action, since his conscience is guided by the intellect fully illumined with Truth.
19. Jainism. Acarangasutra 1.174
The arahant monk, who has destroyed the cankers, lived the life, done what was to be done, laid town the burden, won the goal, burst the bonds of becoming, and is freed by the fullness of gnosis, cannot transgress nine standards: a monk in whom the cankers are destroyed cannot deliberately take the life of any living thing; cannot, with intention to steal, take what is not given; cannot indulge in carnal intercourse; cannot intentionally tell a lie; cannot enjoy pleasures from memories as of yore when a householder; a monk, in whom the cankers are destroyed, cannot go astray through desire; cannot go astray through hate; cannot go astray through delusion; cannot go astray through fear.
20. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya iv.370
Clear: The name of a state achieved through auditing, or an individual who has achieved this state. A Clear is a being who no longer has a reactive mind. A Clear is an unaberrated person and is rational in that he forms the best possible solutions he can on the data he has and from his viewpoint.
Operating Thetan: It is a state of beingness. It is a being "at cause [can assume responsibility] over matter, energy, space, time, form, and life." Operating comes from "able to operate without dependency on things," and Thetan is [from] the Greek letter theta, which the Greeks used to represent thought or perhaps spirit....
21. Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 0-8, The Book of Basics
Undivided I am, undivided my soul, undivided my sight,
undivided my hearing;
undivided my in-breathing, undivided my outbreathing,
undivided my diffusive breath;
undivided the whole of me.
22. Hinduism. Atharva Veda 19.51.1
Scientology 0-8: According to Scientology, spiritual attainment is on a graduated scale. The state of Clear is the level where an individual can function optimally, without any negative thoughts or desires--the 'reactive mind'--to confuse his reason. It is achieved through training by a process of instruction called 'auditing.' 'Operating Thetan' is an even higher stage, one of total freedom in the world of being and able to take responsibility for all things. Atharva Veda 19.51.1: The human condition of internal conflict and contradiction--Maitri Upanishad 6.34, p. 390; Bhagavad Gita 6.5-6, p. 391--is overcome by one in perfect unity; cf. Mundaka Upanishad 3.1.1-3, p. 387. This verse also refers to the attainment of tranquillity and unity in meditation; cf. Bhagavad Gita 6.10-27, p. 845.
While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in a state of equilibrium (chung). When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of harmony (ho). This equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue. Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
23. Confucianism. Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
and who shall stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false,
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord,
and vindication from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek Thee,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
24. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 24.3-6
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
25. Christianity. Bible, Matthew 5.3-10
Doctrine of the Mean 1.4-5: Cf. Doctrine of the Mean 22, p. 317; Chuang Tzu 12, p. 589. Psalm 24.3-6: The conditions enumerated here correspond to the Decalogue; see Exodus 20.1-17, p. 166. This psalm was sung in ancient Israel by pilgrims as they reached the Temple gates, where they would proclaim their qualifications to enter its holy precincts. Cf. Yasna 60.21, p. 721. Matthew 5.3-10: These are the first eight of the nine Beatitudes. They proclaim God's favor to those who fear Him, who have cast off egoism, and who aspire to do His will. 'Poor in spirit' refers to those who recognize their spiritual poverty though they may know countless doctrines and formal teachings--cf. 1 Corinthians 1.18-25, p. 798. 'Those who mourn' expresses the fact that people in the lower classes of society who suffer grief, poverty, and oppression are often less bound by attachments to worldly things and more able to receive God's wisdom--cf. Matthew 19.21-24, p. 939; Luke 18.10-14, p. 902. 'The meek' are not puffed up with pride and do not act arrogantly towards others. They are the little children to whom belongs the Kingdom of heaven--cf. Luke 18.16-17, p. 912. 'Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness' have a deep sense of empathy with the suffering of others and are not just concerned with their own situation. On the 'pure in heart,' cf. 2 Timothy 2.21-22, p. 729. For Jesus' teachings on mercy, see Matthew 18.21-35, p. 995, and on making peace, see Matthew 5.23-24, p. 993. To willingly accept persecution for God's sake is the highest expression of discipleship--cf. Matthew 16.24-25, p. 875. Dhammapada 90: Cf. Sutta Nipata 1072-76, p. 532; Anguttara Nikaya ii.37-39, p. 654.
Arjuna: Tell me of those who live established in wisdom, ever aware of the Self, O Krishna. How do they talk? How sit? How move about?
Lord Krishna: They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.
Neither agitated by grief nor hankering after pleasure, they live free from lust and fear and anger. Established in meditation, they are truly wise. Fettered no more by selfish attachments, they are neither elated by good fortune nor depressed by bad. Such are the seers.
Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will. Aspirants abstain from sense pleasures, but they still crave for them. These cravings all disappear when they see the highest goal. Even of those who tread the path, the stormy senses can sweep off the mind. They live in wisdom who subdue their senses and keep their minds ever absorbed in Me.
26. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 2.54-61
For him who has completed the journey, for him who is sorrowless, for him who from everything is wholly free, for him who has destroyed all ties, the fever of passion exists not.
He whose corruptions are destroyed, he who is not attached to food, he who has deliverance, which is void [of lust, hate, and ignorance] and signless [without the signs of lust, etc.], as his object--his path, like that of the birds of the air, cannot be traced.
He whose senses are subdued, like steeds well-trained by a charioteer, he whose pride is destroyed and is free from the corruptions--such a steadfast one even the gods hold dear.
Like the earth, a balanced and well-disciplined person resents not.... He is like a pool, unsullied by mud; to such a balanced one, life's wanderings do not arise.
Calm is his mind, calm is his speech, calm is his action, who, rightly knowing, is wholly freed [from defilements], perfectly peaceful and equipoised.
The man who is not credulous but truly understands the Uncreated (Nibbana), who has cut off the links, who has put an end to occasion [of good and evil], who has eschewed all desires, he indeed is a supreme man.
27. Buddhism. Dhammapada 90, 93-97
He who possesses virtue in abundance
May be compared to an infant.
Poisonous insects will not sting him.
Fierce beasts will not seize him.
Birds of prey will not strike him.
His bones are weak, his sinews tender, but his grasp is firm.
He does not yet know the union of male and female,
But his organ is aroused.
This means that his essence is at its height.
He may cry all day without becoming hoarse,
This means that his natural harmony is perfect.
To know harmony means to be in accord with the eternal.
To be in accord with the eternal means to be enlightened.
28. Taoism. Tao Te Ching 55
Living beyond the reach of I and mine and of pleasure and pain, patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith, with all his heart and all his mind given to me--with such a one I am in love.
Not frightening the world or by it frightened, he stands above the sway of elation, competition, and fear--he is my beloved.
He is detached, pure, efficient, impartial, never anxious, selfless in all his undertakings--he is my devotee, very dear to me.
Running not after the pleasant or away from the painful, grieving not, lusting not, but letting things come and go as they happen--he is very dear to me.
That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with equal regard, who is not buoyed up by praise nor cast down by blame, alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, free from selfish attachments, the same in honor and dishonor, quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere, firm in faith--such a one is dear to me.
Those who meditate upon this immortal Truth as I have declared it, full of faith and seeking me as life's supreme goal, are truly my devotees, and my love for them is very great.
29. Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 12.14-20
He who realizes here in this world the destruction of his sorrow, who has laid the burden aside and is emancipated [from defilements]--him I call a brahmin.
He whose knowledge is deep, who is wise, who is skilled in the right and wrong way, and who has reached the Highest Goal--him I call a brahmin.
He who has no longings pertaining to this world or to the next, who is desireless [for himself] and emancipated--him I call a brahmin.
He who has no longings, who, through knowledge, is free from doubts, who has gained a firm footing in the Deathless (Nibbana)--him I call a brahmin.
Herein he who has transcended both good and evil, and the Ties [lust, hatred, delusions, pride and false views] as well, who is sorrowless, stainless, and pure--him I call a brahmin.
He who is spotless as the moon, who is pure, serene, and unperturbed, who has destroyed craving for becoming--him I call a brahmin.
He who has passed beyond this quagmire which is difficult to cross, the ocean of life (samsara), this delusion, who has crossed over and gone beyond; who is meditative, free from craving and doubts; who, clinging to naught, has attained Nibbana--him I call a brahmin.
The fearless, the noble, the hero, the great sage, the conqueror, the desireless, the cleanser [of defilements], the enlightened--him I call a brahmin.
30. Buddhism. Dhammapada 402-22
Tao Te Ching 55: The little child is totally spontaneous and acts without any artifice. This spontaneity means that the child is fully expressing his original nature; this is the Taoist ideal. Cf. Tao Te Ching 10, p. 890; 20, p. 608; 28, p. 912; Atharva Veda 6.121.4, p. 531.
Whoever in his self the Supreme Being has lodged,
His name is truly the servant of God:
On his vision has flashed the Lord that is also within the self.
This by utter humility has he obtained.
The servant who ever realizes the Lord to be near,
At the divine Portal finds acceptance.
By divine grace falling on His servant,
Comes to him full realization.
To be with all, yet in his self unattached--
Such a way, says Nanak, to God's servant is known.
One that the Lord's command in mind cherishes,
Is truly to be called Jivan-mukta (liberated while living).
To such a one are joy and sorrow alike;
Ever in joy, never feels he sorrow.
Gold and a clod of earth to him are alike,
As also nectar and foul-tasting poison.
To him are honor and dishonor alike;
Alike also pauper and prince.
One that such a way practices,
Says Nanak, a Jivan-mukta may be called.
31. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Gauri Sukhmani 9, M.5, p. 275
Dhammapada 402-22: Vv. 402, 403, 410-414, 422. These verses, taken from the concluding chapter of the Dhammapada, describe the ideal of the arhat--one who has realized the highest goal. But they also make a political statement for the equality of all people regardless of race or caste. Instead of being a brahmin by birth, any person can become a brahmin--one who knows Brahman--by attaining enlightenment through the path laid out by the Buddha. Cf. Dhammapada 393, 396, p. 279.
The servants of the All-merciful are those who walk in the earth modestly and who, when the ignorant address them, say, "Peace;" who pass the night prostrate to their Lord and standing; who say, "Our Lord, turn Thou from us the chastisement of Gehenna; surely its chastisement is torment most terrible; evil it is as a lodging place and an abode"; who, when they expend, are neither prodigal nor parsimonious, but between that is a just stand; who call not upon another god with God, nor slay the soul God has forbidden except by right, neither fornicate....
And those who bear not false witness and, when they pass by idle talk, pass by with dignity; who, when they are reminded of the signs of their Lord, fall not down thereat deaf and blind; who say, "Our Lord, give us refreshment of our wives and seed, and make us a model to the godfearing." Those shall be recompensed with the highest heaven, for that they endured patiently, and they shall receive therein a greeting and "Peace." Therein they shall dwell forever; fair is it as a lodging place and an abode.
32. Islam. Qur'an 25.63-76
In order to know Shinto, the people must first be united with the mind of the kami.... Whoever would serve the kami in worship must cast off his polluted mind, and stand with pure, bright mind before the deity both morning and evening, serving the kami warmly and with utmost propriety and awe, in order to accord with the august mind of the divine.
With propriety never ending, the utmost in truth, without a single falsehood, correct and rectified without a single error, pure and without a spot of pollution, without selfish desires, and thus not greedy of personal gain, full of love and affection. Such is the mind of the kami.
With the foremost quality of truth, the mind of the divine is purity and honesty. Since this is so, the emperor, too, has been in accord with these virtues since ancient times to the present. Accordingly, the people as well should follow the emperor's example of purity and honesty, making their own minds earnest, meek, and gallant.
33. Shinto. Ekken Kaibara, Divine Injunctions
Qur'an 25.63-76: Vv. 63-68, 72-76. Cf. Qur'an 6.151-53, p. 168; 8.2-4, p. 751; and 17.23-38. Divine Injunctions: The Emperor of Japan has traditionally been regarded as ikigami--a living god. In life he is already manifesting the kami nature, which ordinary people will manifest only after death. Many of the founders of the new religions in Japan are equally seen as ikigami. Their words and actions have inherent authority and ultimacy. On the responsibility of rulers to manifest the most perfect character, see Doctrine of the Mean 33, p. 1034; Analects 12.19; Bhagavad Gita 3.20-21; Anguttara Nikaya ii.75, p. 1072; and related passages.
Mahamati, when the bodhisattvas face and perceive the happiness of the Samadhi of perfect tranquilization, they are moved with the feeling of love and sympathy owing to their original vows [made for the salvation of all beings, saying, "So long as they do not attain Nirvana, I will not attain it myself"] and they become aware of the part they are to perform as regards the inexhaustible vows. Thus, they do not enter Nirvana. But the fact is that they are already in Nirvana, because in them there is no rising of discrimination. With them the discrimination of grasped and grasping no more takes place; as they recognize that there is nothing in the world but what is seen of the Mind itself, they have done away with the thought of discrimination concerning all things. They have abandoned adhering to and discriminating based upon the faculties of cognition (citta), analysis (manas), and judgment (manovijnana), and external objects, and self-nature. However, they have not given up the things promoting the cause of Buddhism. Because of their attachment to the inner insight which belongs to the stage of Tathagatahood, whatever they do all issues from this transcendental knowledge.
34. Buddhism. Lankavatara Sutra 80
What do I mean by a True Man? The True Man of ancient times did not rebel against want, did not grow proud in plenty, and did not plan his affairs. Being like this, he could commit an error and not regret it, could meet with success and not make a show. Being like this, he could climb the high places and not be frightened, could enter the water and not get wet, could enter the fire and not get burned. His knowledge was able to climb all the way up to the Way like this.
The True Man of ancient times slept without dreaming and woke without care; he ate without savoring and his breath came from deep inside. The True Man breathes with his heels; the mass of men breathe with their throats. They, crushed and bound down, gasp out their words as though they were retching. Deep in their passions and desires, they are shallow in the workings of Heaven.
The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death. He emerged without delight; he went back in without a fuss. He came briskly, he went briskly, and that was all. He did not forget where he began; he did not try to find out where he would end. He received something and took pleasure in it; he forgot about it and handed it back again. This is what I call not using the mind to repel the Way, not using man to help out Heaven. This is what I call the True Man.
35. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 6
Lankavatara Sutra 80: This describes the bodhisattva who has taken a vow not to enter Nirvana until he has rescued all beings from suffering--cf. Sikshasamuccaya 280-81, pp. 979f, and Garland Sutra 23, p. 980. His attitude is so totally without self that he is, according to this sutra, already in Nirvana. Thus Nirvana is a state of being that can be lived out in the world; cf. Mulamadhyamaka Karika 25, pp. 91f; Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti 2, p. 965.