While striving for perfection, the very first idea to recognize is that it will never be attained in its complete form. The reason is that man cannot hope to ever reach perfection because man is innately flawed. Death itself dictates imperfection, because a perfect body would never die. Thus physical bodies are not perfect, so the senses conveyed from the body cannot be perfect either. The limited sense perception restricts the understandings of man in areas that cannot be sensed physically. Since the senses inarguably dictates the conducts of the human mind, the mind must also be thought of as imperfect along with everything else.
The human mind arguably is the center of the senses, tasked with interpreting the physical pulses in the brain. This places the mind as being the center of imperfection. Therefore what cannot be physically sensed becomes increasingly hard for man to understand. But what flawed men cannot sense is not indicative of false existences outside the current realm of understanding. The proper manner in which to become more ideal is to understand the limitations of man, in order to understand what cannot be understood, thus becoming more perfect without ever reaching full perfection. This means to witness what cannot be immediately witnessed, and to know what cannot be currently known.
Death & Life After It
Religious beliefs are centered on the concepts of life and death. But any individual who would be able to convey the exact nature of death, having gone through death, and the happenings after death, if any, are unable to audibly or physically message on this fact in a manner that would be undeniably understood by those who have not yet gone through death. One undeniable fact regarding death that can be presently surmised without testimony of those already dead is that it is a necessary life step. Life relies on death, because without death, life would not long survive as is currently witnessed. Imagine if birth never ceased in its current rate, yet death did not come as it does to those who have been and will be born. A population’s demand for material resources would exceed the supply on earth; therefore death would inevitably ensue, regardless of its present nature. Religion seeks to convey understanding of this life stage, and since no person can adequately describe the exact nature regarding death, having not gone through it, the religious beliefs seeking to convey this understanding should not be disregarded entirely. Herein lies the potential benefit of religious teaching, not merely beneficial to understanding death, but most especially life and its stages. Consider this parable of the twins:
One upon a time, twin boys were conceived in the same womb. Weeks passed, and the twins developed. As their awareness grew, they laughed for joy, “Isn’t it great that we were conceived? Isn’t it great to be alive?”
Together the twins explored their world. When they found their mother’s cord that gave them life, they sang for joy, “How great is our mother’s love that she shares her own life with us!”
As weeks stretched into months the twins noticed how much each was changing. “What does it mean?” asked the one. “It means that our stay in this world is drawing to an end,” said the other one. “But I don’t want to go,” said the one. “I want to stay here always.” “We have no choice,” said the other. “But, maybe there is life after birth!” “But how can there be?” responded the one. “We will shed our life cord, and how is life possible without it?” “Besides, we have seen evidence that others were here before us, and none of them have returned to tell us that there is life after birth. No, this is the end.”
And so the one fell into deep despair, saying: “If conception ends in birth, what is the purpose of life in the womb? It’s meaningless! Maybe there is no mother after all.” “But there has to be,” protested the other. “How else did we get there? How do we remain alive?”
“Have you ever seen our mother?” said the one. “Maybe she lives only in our minds. Maybe we made her up because the idea made us feel good.”
And so the last days in the womb were filled with deep questioning and fear. Finally, the moment of birth arrived.
When the Twins had passed from their world, they opened their eyes and they cried. For what they saw exceeded their fondest dreams.
While this parable is undoubtedly favoring the existence of both a divine presence and life after death, therefore giving it favor with religious beliefs, the dialogue between the twins mirrors the struggles of understanding this topic. Perhaps another example to consider is Plato’s Parable of the Cave, which can be read in Plato’s Republic. The liberation of the prisoner from the bondage of the cave, witnessing life outside the cave for the first time, provides that prisoner with belief of that existence outside of the cave. This can represent humanity’s tendency to not understand what cannot be physically sensed and the transitional existence of life after death that cannot be understood except by those who made that transition.
An ideal man may or may not adopt a particular religion as his spiritual belief system or not. However, every man who would be ideal will understand the benefits of such a belief system, permitted that belief system does not incite violence against humanity. An ideal man cannot adopt any belief system that fosters hatred and violence against others since such a man always must be a fervent protector of the continuance of all life.
There are beliefs that love the concept of divinity, as well as those that rebel against the any concept of divinity. Just as there are beliefs that love the concept of humanity, and those that despise humanity. An ideal man must serve humanity, therefore he cannot adopt beliefs, whether religious in nature or not, that are against it. Because an ideal man realizes the rarity and value of life, as well as the collective lack of power in man, so life shall be preserved by not being destroyed. Since man inherited the capacity to understand this notion, man also inherited the responsibility that goes along with it of preserving life. Christ once stated in Luke 12:48 (NIV): “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
After considering the limitations of man in both mind and body, one can also recognize the flaws in everything devised by man in consequence, even in belief systems and fields of study. Some may regard religion as a belief system that is flawed because man himself composed the system. While this is true of religion, and religion itself may be flawed, this cannot discredit the belief system in its entirety, no more than one can discredit a tree for having leaves. The scientific fields of study are also imperfect for the same obvious reason; man who is limited by his own understanding devised it. The telling factor in determining the flaws of scientific research is its ongoing pursuit. For instance, much of science is based on theory, which is in itself limited, and research requires constant updating because of its faults. While these two inventions of man serve their own purpose, religious beliefs system seek to understand the spiritual, while science looks to examine the physical world, they are considered polar opposites of each other by many. But this cannot be so, because one describes spirit over matter while the other describes matter over spirit, they are in fact parallel to each other. They are not opposites; man has made them opposite by blindly trusting one over the other.
This specific reflection all together compliments intellectual pursuits previously discussed. Understanding concepts of life and death, as well as life after death is to increase understanding of all things. While religion seeks to convey understanding of aspects harder for flawed men to comprehend, science also strives to understand what else can be seen. These two fields are both tools in which to increase man’s understanding; to entirely abandon either is to limit understanding. To further intellectual pursuits regarding a spiritual aspect of life, which may or may not be connected to the conscious mind, interpreting the lessons of both fields is required. Therefore a study in religious text is appropriate, regardless of one’s preference in beliefs. And while religious text has been arguably composed by man (some would disagree wholly to this statement), an ideal man understands the limitations of that as well, but nevertheless utilizes every tool to aid in further understanding. To tread beyond the confines of the dark cave described by Plato, to consider questions beyond the capacity of flawed men, by utilizing every tool available to man, is to become more ideal.