danieLion wrote:I agree that Buddhism is byzantine, but that's a result of improvement attempts. You seem to be putting the cart before the horse. I might be wrong, but the history of Buddhism chronicles one attempt after another to improve it.
Agreed. Wasn’t saying otherwise. In the last 2500 years whether it be in an attempt to clarify, re-translate, re-establish, strengthen, consolidate, streamline, reinterpret, assimilate or even maintain what the Buddha taught, many efforts have brought a good deal of pork into the situation, and now even when there are teachers that provide a solid interpretation it does nothing to effect the overall product - the “overall product” being an authoritative interpretation that everyone agrees on. That ship has sailed or perhaps was never even there. So improvement in that respect does not seem possible. You can't get rid of the fluff.
danieLion wrote:I agree that how we conceptualize the Buddha can influence the skillfulness or unskillfulness of our striving, but what, specifically, do you mean by "perfect." That is, how do you imagine the Buddha's "perfection."
Please keep in mind throughout this discussion that I am only talking about what I imagine the Buddha was based on what I have learned. That's it. I'm not claiming to know anything.
The only way to understand what I mean by perfect is for me to convey the appreciation I have for the goal of this practice. The Buddha identifies a problem with life and explains it thoroughly - the problem, the cause, the solution and the way to leading to that solution. If one can practice this method properly they will eventually be able to decipher how reality is constructed and awaken from a perpetual misunderstanding of experience. Understanding will then be at the most fundamental level so it is no longer possible to misunderstand anything that is experienced from then on. There is no longer the possibility of relearning to misunderstand.
If you properly take the time to see that this same problem is present in your situation, learn why it is actually a problem (very important), you will begin to see its complexity and get an idea of how difficult it will be to solve. You imagine being free from problem. For me the prospect is glorious. I see what I am caught up in, and I imagine what it will feel like to eventually see through it. To me there is nothing more perfect than this freedom. So knowing that the Buddha achieved this very same freedom that I imagine for myself allows for "perfect" to be applied. However that's just for me. I do not expect people to agree.
danieLion wrote:I might be wrong, but there are helpful and unhelpful ways to imagine the Buddha as "perfect," no?
In my opinion the only way an idea of perfection can be harmful is if you fail to properly integrate it into your own experience and see how it could be possible for you. You can't keep too far away or it becomes scary and overwhelming. The idea needs to be analyzed often and gradually yet meticulously applied to your own experience.
Through many of samsara’s births I hasten seeking, finding not the builder of this house - pain is birth again, again. O builder of this house you’re seen, you shall not build a house again, all your beams have given away, rafters of the ridge decayed, mind to the unconditioned gone, exhaustion of craving has it reached.(Dhp - 153, 154)