Zen and the Art of Perfection

What is Zen?

Well, za-zen is a practice aimed at achieving enlightenment.

What is enlightment?

Achieving Zen. To become enlightened with pure wisdom. To achieve Nirvana.

What is Nirvana?

“(in Buddhism) a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.”

In Buddhism, Life is full of suffering. We might not think it at the moment, but eventually we will decay, grow old and die. Our friends and family will die. And either way, the process will include suffering.

The goal of Buddhism is to free ourselves from the bondage of karma, from this cycle of suffering, death and rebirth.

Nirvana is the final goal.

So, perfection might seem like a goal, but in life, what we are trying to achieve is a process, and perhaps in the greater scheme of things, our goals to fulfill our desires of wealth, prosperity and happiness is (in a sense) our process of achieving Nirvana.

Za-zen or meditation is one of the keys. And is merely a tool to achieve that enlightened state. To go beyond this life and this world is another goal.

But… it’s all the same thing.

In Zen, enlightenment can be achieved within the moment.

And many times we mistake perfection with enlightenment, but this is not necessarily so. For imperfection can be its own form of perfection. Things aren’t always what they appear to be.

For, many wise sages will also tell you that this world we live in is also an illusion, or a veil that hides the real truth about our universe. About this existence.

So, perfection might appear to be Zen, but it is not.

And perfection can’t be treated like a goal, because it isn’t.

For perfection never ends. And life is a process that continues on and on… and perhaps it’s the process itself that is perfection.

When we look at a beautiful sunset, we think that is perfection. But, this beautiful sunset changes from day to day, yet it still can be acknowledged as perfection.

When we look at a beautiful sunset this way, we are admiring its Zen-like qualities. And from day to day it still retains its perfection. Yet, it’s a process of nature, or the way the universe is unfolding before our eyes.

If I practice a piano piece, I might reach a sense of playing the piano piece to perfection, but it too is a process, for it may sound perfect but the performance is in a process of achieving perfection with each repeat performance. It’s a process, and the pianist might get better and better at playing it, but its a process to achieving a sense of perfection.

Especially in Jazz, a song might be played differently each time, and each time it achieves its own sense of perfection, but this process becomes Zen.

In Jazz Music, it is performed, it is improvised, and it is performed in real time, and once that moment comes and passes, it is gone.

That is a form of Zen perfection.

And once that performance is done, once that moment is gone, that is it. For each moment is fleeting. But Zen was achieved in that moment.

What is perfection?

No one knows.

What is Zen?

No one knows.

The more you think about it.

You won’t know Zen until you achieve it.



Carlos Rull

Carlos Rull is a musician living in the San Diego area. His interests include Yoga, Eastern Philosophy, Zen Buddhism, and Gardening. He plays drums, piano, and composes New Age & Ambient music, and his albums are available on iTunes and Amazon.com.

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