IDEAL IS NOT PERFECT AND PERFECT IS NOT IDEAL (Lessons from The Black Swan)
Human beings always intrigue me as much as they fascinate me. We have been taught from our childhood to be ideal – ideal child, ideal student, ideal professional, ideal husband, ideal father, ideal son, ideal brother- so many varied roles we play throughout our life and in all of these we have our defined precincts. We operate within these and try to be ideal. In many of my talks I say “Try for excellence, perfection is God’s business”. This entire excellence is programming us to reach the bookmarks of IDEAL in whatever role we play. But then what is ideal is never perfect. This wonderful depth gets unveiled in a recently viewed academy award winning Hollywood film - The Black Swan. I salute the makers of this film and the entire cast who have churned out a masterpiece.
In the film there is a story of a ballerina who portrays the white swan so easily. But the challenge comes when she has also to portray the role of her twin - the black swan. The white swan is the ideal in all of us. It is easy to become a white swan as we all are programmed to be so right from our childhood. We are always conscious of the fact: be ideal, do this, don’t do that. The closer we are with the dos, more ideal we are. But that is not what is the complete of us. Amongst all of us is a black swan that is also a natural manifestation of ours. It wants to indulge. It wants to break the rules. It wants to rebel. It wants to speak out. It wants to be violent. It wants to be an exact antithesis of the ideal.
But the world doesn’t permit this. It is only comfortable with the white swan and calls it ideal. The black swan is not ideal. It is the most undesirable. However nothing in the universe (including human beings) is all white. We always have the black in us - the gray in us. This black is most difficult to handle just as the character played by Natalie Portman finds (she got an Oscar for this role). The white swan is ideal, she is absolutely white. She follows all rules. She follows all that is expected of her. But deep within her she is severely stressed. The black within her wants to revolt. It generates intense stress. It wants to break free. But her superego so strongly programmed to pulverize the black just doesn’t allow this. In the bargain she develops stress induced rashes. The director of her ballet at a very delicate moment recognizes the immensely potent black swan in her. He selects her for the role not because he finds her perfect for white swan but he senses the roaring black swan in her suppressed and pulverized but rearing to go.
Over a period of time she works hard fighting with herself to let the black in her get manifested. She drinks, does drugs, indulges in wanton sex and fantasizes those hidden fantasies she had so assiduously crushed in herself. As these become slowly but surely manifested her role as the black swan betters. However it is not till the climax that she lets herself go of the white swan which was already in its full grown ideal state in her. At the climax the black swan also roars out in its full regalia and there she says “I have touched perfection”.
We as human beings are always taught to view and classify this world and its inhabitants as either white or black. But never is any one completely white or absolutely black. Seeing this reality all pervading leaves the viewer perplexed. We are tuned to be ideal but that is not perfection. Perfection is a comfortable coexistence of both the white and the black. Black and white together only make one complete and perfect. That is perfection.
Masters too have been baffled when they have to handle both. They teach to be white, see white and suppress the black or at best become blind to the black. I have found one master to be an exception to this. He is Osho. He is the one who can handle perfection. He teaches to accept both the white as well as the black. He is therefore most misunderstand and abhorred. The world can’t handle him but he can handle the world.
In Hinduism perfection is handled so efficiently. Krishna is one figure who can handle the white swan and the black swan in us easily and efficiently. For him the black swan is as much a reality as the white swan. He doesn’t quarrel with the white swan or the black swan. He accepts both as they are in a state of complete choicelessness. No wonder Krishna is perfect. Krishna may not be ideal but he is perfect. Even when Hinduism handles Shakti the power, it is so comfortable. The force of The Almighty which brings about the creation of the universe (Jagatjanani) can play music and create art (Saraswati) can also become ferocious and destructive (Ma Kali). This seeming dichotomy is the most natural state. That is the way the universe is. One who can handle the black swan within us naturally as the white swan is most at peace with the world. He/she is in sync with the universe. He can accept a Krishna playing a flute in the battlefield and the serve Krishna annihilating his own uncle for the rule of justice and righteousness.
While going through some writings on the film Black Swan I read one commentator commenting The Imperfect Perfection. (http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/O-zone/entry/you-are-perfectly-imperfect). She too finds it hard to handle the Black Swan. She calls the black swan coexisting with the white as imperfectly perfect. Perfection is complete. It can’t be imperfect. Both exist together so comfortably. It is only out of our discomfiture at seeing both together that we call it imperfect perfection.
The film teaches us what Masters fail to teach: ideal is not perfect and perfect is not ideal. The more you strive to be ideal the more you are in asynchrony with the universe Learn to handle both the swans in you choicelessly and you become in sync with the universe and at peace within yourself.