The Five Buttresses of Jaminism (part 2): Perfection

Jaminism is laterally supported by five guiding principles which are known as the Five Buttresses of Jaminism. These Buttresses are Journey, Perfection, Argumentation, Moral Growth, and Honesty. In this article we’ll be exploring the Buttress of Perfection.

The Buttress of Perfection

Perfection, as understood by the Jaminist isn’t merely attainable, but inevitable. Every individual is, in this moment, a perfect representation of who they are. Whatever you do is a perfect indication of what you are like. Nothing you do can ever fall short of your own standard because your standard is set by what you do. If you set a higher standard for yourself and did not achieve it, then you didn’t really set a higher standard for your behaviour but only for your imagination, and in your imagination you did succeed in setting a higher standard. Whatever you choose to do, you will succeed in that choice. Whatever you actually do, you will perform that action or inaction perfectly in relation to the action being performed.

This can be an challenging belief to initially accept and then further difficulty can be identified in its practical application. This article aims to further unpack the buttress in its conceptual meanings and then provide practical examples of its value when applied. With that in mind, let’s dive into it!

To clarify what this buttress is, it needs to be made clear what this buttress is NOT. The Buttress of Perfection is NOT lying to yourself and saying that something is something that it is not. It is also not some mental gymnastics to make you feel good about yourself. The Buttress of Perfection is exclusively the awareness that everything is a perfect representation of itself. The territory is a 1:1 scale map of the territory. What is, is. This seems like a truism, and indeed it is, but it is a truism which is frequently overlooked when forming simplified models of the world. People will create models of perfection which do not reflect reality and then react with surprise and outrage when the world fails to meet their imagined standard. The Buttress of Perfection addresses this tendency with the gentle reminder that all things are what they are. To expect them to be anything else is to court disappointment.

For a practical example we can consider JK Rowling and the Harry Potter franchise. For many people who encountered the books when they were first published, they represented a safe world where they were able to escape the harsh realities of living in a muggle world where they felt they did not belong. After the success of the books though, the author has used her platform to make comments about transgendered people which would seem to undermine the safety that her books have represented. This has caused no small amount of angst among people who liked the books but now dislike the author. The conflict is formed by the desire that an person who is viewed positively in one way must be positive in all ways or else they are negative in all ways. The human mind strives to simplify every item, person and experience into being exclusively for one single homogenous value in all contexts. In other words: to create a simple map of the territory and then demand that the territory conform to the map.

The solution provided by the Buttress of Perfection is both simple and complex: Simply acknowledge that JK Rowling wrote some books which made you feel safe and ALSO promoted ideas which made you feel unsafe; that you can like a book without liking the author; that an individual who promotes harm can also promote healing and neither one nullifies the value of the other. That every person, idea and action is a perfect representation of itself and there is no great need to simply one’s understanding of the full complexity of a person into a single unified feeling. It is okay to hold several different feelings about a single person and their contribution to the world.

A place where this frequently comes up is in relation to influential historical figures. A common approach is to take somebody who is widely admired for their achievements and then hold them to a set of values which would not have made sense for them to hold in the context of their time and location and then use this to imply that their contribution to society was not valuable because they were not perfect. Perhaps it is a nation’s founding father who owned slaves, or a prophet of a religion who married a seven year old girl, or a scientist who contributed to a greater understanding of a phenomenon without having a complete understanding of the phenomenon at the time they were doing their research. To these judgements, the Buttress of Perfection says these people were perfect representations of themselves in their context and time. Nobody is wholly good or wholly evil, and such dualistic thinking is unprofitable for establishing a sound understanding of their contribution. You do not have to like a person to acknowledge their contribution. You don’t have to accept every idea they ever had to build on their legacy. You don’t have to add to their crimes and turn them into a fictional villain to soothe your disequilibrium. You may simply acknowledge their complexity.

This can also be applied in instances where you are judging yourself. Starting with the understanding that everything you do is a perfect representation of who you are right now, you can now accept your current reality in its entirety, without needed to alter the facts to fit a narrative. You do not need to minimise the good you’ve done to maintain a negative view of yourself, and neither do you need to justify your selfish actions to fit a narrative of being a good person. You may instead simply accept yourself in your entirety as perfectly you. If there are elements of yourself which you would like to change, then you have the freedom to do so. By acknowledging the reality of who you are without needing to modify the facts to fit a narrative, you free yourself to see the reality of who you are and, if you so desire, make adjustments so that you can transform yourself into the person you want to be.

We have previously looked at the example of learning to play the piano in relation to the Buttress of Journey, so let’s now consider in relation to the Buttress of Perfection. Let’s say it is your goal to perform a particular classical piece in a manner which is consistent with what is understood to be the correct method of performing that piece. You have the musical notation printed in front of you as a map to guide you toward the mutually agreed definition of this piece and you begin hitting the keys as instructed. At first, you hit the keys awkwardly, with little in common with what you understand this piece to sound like. Frequently hitting the wrong keys or the right keys at the wrong time, the whole things sounds disjointed and uncomfortable. To your ears, and the ears of anybody who knows what piece you are attempting to perform, your performance seems to be as far from perfect as it is possible to be. Indeed, it is not a perfect representation of the piece you are seeking to emulate. Rather, it is a perfect expression of your current progress toward performing the piece you aim to perform. It is a perfect snapshot of your position in your journey. By allowing yourself to accept this perfect expression of your progress for what it is, there is no need to apologise or excuse your failure. You have not failed. You have simply expressed your current capacity. By doing away with the need to judge your performance as good or bad, you may instead observe where it meets the target and what areas can be corrected to move toward the form that you desire.

Moving now to how the Buttress of Perfection can be applied to interpersonal relationships; it is often stated that relationships are built on trust. While there is a degree of wisdom here, the downfall of this approach is that we trust people to be something they are not, and then feel betrayed when they reveal themselves to instead be what they are. When applying the Buttress of Perfection, we would instead trust people to be a perfect representation of who they are. If somebody who is consistently late for things gives us a time when they will arrive somewhere, we can trust that the time they will arrive will be a true representation of who they are and is therefore likely to be significantly later than the time they have given us. The inaccuracy of the information they have provided does not make them untrustworthy, but rather they can be trusted to be perfectly consistent with their nature.

This understanding that people’s behaviour is a perfect expression of who they are also removes the need to say that somebody’s harmful behaviour is not their nature in order to maintain an overall positive opinion of them. If somebody is enjoyable to be around but they have political views which you do not agree with, it is possible to accept both of these characteristics as part of who they are and enjoy their company while also disagreeing with their political opinions. It is not the responsibility of the Jaminist to make the offer of friendship conditional on shared values in order to force a person to choose between holding to the views they believe to be right or maintaining a friendship with somebody who believes otherwise. Rather, a person whose company is enjoyable and yet holds to a worldview which conflicts with your own values provides an opportunity to test your own views against ideas you may not otherwise have opportunity to engage with. In this way, the Buttress of Perfection interacts with the Buttress of Argumentation.

In the most general terms, the Buttress of Perfection can be understood as accepting that things are as they are, and that reality exists independent of individual judgements of its qualities.

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