Venugopala (form of Krishna Playing the Flute)
Late Chola, 12th century A.D.
National Museum, New Delhi
Photograph by the author
The Perfection is a Grace sent to help us develop understanding.
It's a rare thing to experience the Perfection, because to do so for more than a few moments is overwhelming. Our organism isn't designed to receive God's Glory in this way for any extended period of time.
The Perfection exists at a level so far above our own that to contact it for anything more than brief moments is, on our own level, basically unlawful. Now, through Grace and Mercy, God may offer glimpses of the Perfection in order to remind us of His Glory. Yet this only happens after long periods of suffering on His behalf, and is sent strictly to remind us of His infinite Grace and compassion.
The Perfection can't be described in words, so it's not really possible to transmit the exact nature of it. An encounter with the Perfection is unmistakable. Those who are fortunate enough to experience it know at once exactly what it is, since it transmits its own nature purely and perfectly at the instant of its arising, which is infinitely Graceful.
The most compelling feature of the Perfection is its ubiquity. It 's ever-present and ever-active. All things arise from it, consist of it, and perpetually dwell within it; even, paradoxically, all of that which appears to us to be coarse and low, fallen or evil. The Perfection is all-encompassing; this is a Great Mystery, eluding the collective rational ability of all comprehending minds.
That in itself is yet another demonstration of God's Glory; the Perfection emanates perpetually and directly from God's own heart of hearts.
The Flower Ornament Sutra is a document whose entire purpose was, originally, to describe the Perfection; while it may seem to us repetitive and long-winded (it is) the exhaustive descriptions make no perceptible mark worth noting in relation to the full scale of the Perfection, which effortlessly surpasses even an infinite amount of additional books just like it.
The character of effortlessly surpassing is the essential character of the Perfection, which can be applied to all objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. Existing in this and every instant with them, all across every universe, the Perfection effortlessly surpasses all universes.
In Buddhism the term Dharma is used; it means, in essence, truth, yet even truth is effortlessly surpassed, since truth is merely a pale reflection of the Perfection.
We suffer inwardly in order to prepare ourselves for the Perfection. The reason for this can only be understood through the suffering itself, which organically and wordlessly prepares us for the Perfection; which, like the inner work that precedes it, cannot be put into words. One could say it emerges from silence, but it also effortlessly surpasses silence, both before and after its arising.
Every angelic visitation, from whatever level, contains elements of the Perfection, although it may not be completely expressed. The mystery is only unveiled to the precise extent necessary under any given set of circumstances. Often the Perfection is revealed without the tangible presence of angels, as they are not necessary for its manifestation; it effortlessly surpasses the angelic kingdoms.
Lee van Laer is a senior editor at Parabola Magazine.