Everything. Is. Perfect.

Via Ben Ralston
on Sep 24, 2010
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Buddha said: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”

It is so easy to fall into the trap of looking at the world and finding fault.
When we look, we find what we are looking for—every time. Because we are creators. We create our reality in the form that we choose. We are all-powerful.

If you want to experience peace in the world around you, there must first be peace in your heart.

If you would like to experience abundance, you must first find abundance in your Self.

If you would like to know more joy, seek that place inside yourself where joy comes from.

The world around us is perfect. Do you see it?

Through a telescope: All the galaxies expanding and contracting in the eternal rhythm of life (universe)…the planets dancing round each other in their perfect orbits.

Through a microscope: all the internal systems expanding and contracting in the eternal rhythm of life (breath)…the electrons and neurons and atoms and molecules dancing round each other in their perfect orbits.

(I am not a scientist, forgive any factual errors!)

But the fact remains that on looking up, we see macrocosm; on looking down, we see microcosm. There is a perfect symmetry to the world around us, a perfect order. This is the truth behind the ancient Hermetic law:

“As above, so below; as below, so above. As within, so without; As without, so within.”

When we see chaos, it is because we have created chaos. When we experience suffering, it is because we have attached ourselves to suffering. When we find we are without, then it is time to look within!

Then it is time to learn from our mistakes, to ask ourselves “what am I trying to teach myself?,” and to re-learn to see the world as a child does.

A child sees through eyes that are untainted by expectation. It sees things as they are.

Let us see things as they are. Without fear. Without expectation. Without judgement. Without shame.

Don’t look. Have the courage to see.

It means that we must open ourselves completely.

It means that we must not hold on to what we think we know.

It means letting go of all that is comfortable.

Sound scary? It is, I know.

But the trade-off is this:

We step out of our little bubbles, our little comfort zones; and into a whole new world of beauty and joy.

We realize that we are infinitely connected to all that is, in unimaginable ways—unimaginable because we cannot experience that reality with our imagination, with our thoughts, or with our ideas. Only through being, can we come to know that bliss.

A student asked me:

“What about war? What about rape? What about all the suffering in the world? How can you say that is perfect?”

It’s a good question, and not one that is easy to answer!

But the answer is this:

All human suffering is caused by our belief in duality. When we believe that there is suffering, there is. When we believe that the world is a hard place, it is. When we look for problems, we will certainly find them. And that is what we have been doing for a very, very long time.

Now, in this age, on this day, at this moment, you and I can change all that.
At any moment, any one of us, no matter our circumstances, can change. We can always look inside ourselves and choose a different way. We can always look inside ourselves and let go of the pain, the suffering, the depression, the anger, the lack.

We can always see beauty, joy, and love, within. Because that is where it comes from. And if we all do that, then war, rape, and suffering itself, will disappear. We, mankind, create them with our negativity.

We are perfect as we are. God, whether you think of him/her/it as a being, or an energy, or nature herself, doesn’t make mistakes.


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston has been practising personal development—necessity being the Mother of invention—since he was about six years old. He’s been teaching and sharing what he’s learnt along the way for a couple of decades. His main thing is Heart of Tribe retreats—whose very purpose is to help you fall back in love with life, no less. Leading these retreats alongside his woman Kara-Leah Grant—also an elephant journal writer (that’s how they met!)—they combine a deep well of lineage-based yoga teaching experience, with expertise in healing trauma and various other methods of personal development. Ben also works with clients one-on-one via Skype, writes, makes videos from time to time, and is passionate about parenting. He lives in an intentional, tribal community in the hills of Croatia, where you might find him gardening barefoot and talking to the rocks. Connect with Ben on Facebook or YouTube or check out his website for more info.


43 Responses to “Everything. Is. Perfect.”

  1. Ben_Ralston says:

    Via Ben's facebook page:

    Roger Wolsey: sounds like what wives who are beaten do all the time.

    Ben Ralston: Nope. I'm talking about an inner acceptance. They accept what is happening outside, whilst on the inside there is turmoil.

    Aron Stein Still, it's a slippery slope. You can't just have inner acceptance or you have inaction. At least for most of us. Commented on the article. Still like it!

    Roger Wolsey: Ben, could clarify what you mean. I'm a bit slow it seems. in particular, could you share how a beaten wife "could embrace acceptance" in the way that you do mean?

    Ben Ralston: Aron – inner acceptance does not equate to inaction. Inner acceptance means that you do not resist what is inside you: your feelings – resisting them *would* cause inaction due to incoherence. By accepting how you feel, you become free from it to change it.

    Roger Wolsey: ah… i see, as long as she'd be free to resist her abuser and to resist that situation by fleeing from it.

    Aron Stein: Ben. Often inner acceptance does equate to inaction. It is a well known phenomena in Buddhism. we call it the Stink of Zen, where you go through a phase in which everything seems perfect to you.

    Roger Wolsey: perhaps something like – "I accept that I feel X when Bob does Y to me. I accept that I do not have to continue to feel X. I accept that if I am no where near Bob, Y won't happen to me and I won't feel like X" ?

    Aron Stein: It's the same phenomena when someone allows them selves or others to be abused by a master because there is no difference, no duality. You can accept the abuse as well as how you feel, but you are still stuck in non-duality. Wheter or not that woman was in a state of non-duality is questionable, but I assure you that does happen.

    Roger Wolsey this is a huge part of why I have not become a Buddhist.

    Ben Ralston Allowing abuse IS THE OPPOSITE of what i'm talking about! Someone who allows themselves to be abused doesn't accept THEMSELF! It's called having poor boundaries. Acceptance BEGINS with the self. When you accept yourself, you love yourself, and cannot tolerate abuse.
    Similarly, one who loves themself, loves the world around them, and will not tolerate cruelty, abuse, or pollution of the world around them. It is the ultimate revolution!

  2. Aron Stein says:

    Agreed. It's a problem with language most likely and concepts. To speculate that everything could be perfect is different than saying it is. Imperfect perception causes and imperfect world. i.e all is not perfect, even to someone with perfect perception;)

  3. Ben Ralston says:

    Hi Aron,

    I believe that if every human being would embrace their own perfection, and the perfection of the natural world, then the children you speak of would applaud us.

    Everything is perfect that human beings don’t tarnish with their ideas of imperfection.

    Bodhisatvas who have self-realized realize their perfect self, and try to help the world by getting us to realize it too… but we’re usually too busy discussing how imperfect everything is (in our heads, and with our tongues) to listen.

    Buddah said: “Be a light unto thyself”.

    Why? Did he want you to see your imperfection? No, he wanted you to wake up and see that you’re the same as he was!!

    This idea of suffering and imperfection is just that: as man-made idea.

    There is a load of work left, yes. But if each person on the planet did their share today, the world would be squeeky clean tomorrow.

  4. J. Carranza says:

    Great content, great article. Buddha believed that life is suffering. To acknowledge that piece is essential. Suffering in the form of sickness, old age, poverty and death. Those things are real. I believe you are saying that we must change our perspective when these real life changes occur and cause suffering. Reading the article had me thinking that you were insisting by simply changing the paradigm, we can eliminate suffering and chaos altogether. That we create it. Most of the negative energy is reflected, but suffering is static and part of life's reality.

  5. Well written piece. I have to side with Aron on the perfection. I spend my time trying to inspire others to see the world's imperfection (some man-made, preventable, all hopefully fixable) and take action to help improve the world. That is not to say, however, that we present these problems with anger (altho, sometimes I am guilty of this!) or with feelings of helplessness. Perspective.

  6. Padma Kadag says:

    Following what you have said here in your article and carrying out your philosophy…what will be the result of your death? What will become of you the one you identify as Ben Ralston? I am curious.

  7. Aron Stein says:

    Not seeing how that is relevant to the debate Padma. I don't what happens next as relevant to living life either.
    And really no one knows. It's all just speculation.

  8. marilee r torres says:

    yes…….but…..debating with Buddhism gets me loopy-or caught in circularity 😀 which if different than ping-ponging in duality.i hear Roger-i WAS the beaten wife, and i still find it hard to swallow that i accepted or allowed…until i saw the light and refused to be a part of it…there is an innocent ignorant time before there is awareness of boundaries, knowing self -acceptance…there is a time *before* and when still unaware one is a sort of accepting victim-but ignorant of any alternatives.
    how does the un-enlightened world teach the guerrillas in the congo that rape is not magic or patriotic? how does the LIGHT get turned on for those not on the path, how can the path to enlightenment be broadened and shared?

  9. Ben_Ralston says:

    Padma, I try to live my life as if each moment is my last. I find that approach helps me to forget as much as possible about the identity of Ben Ralston, and associate more with the world around me – it broadens my awareness, so that I am more in tune with other people, animals, nature…
    when I die I have no idea what will be 'the result.' I can speculate, and because you ask Padma, I will, for you:
    I believe that perhaps this body will again become food for worms, and the rest of what constitutes 'me' will go on to another dimension / another life.
    I feel about death that it's like a snake shedding it's skin. Nothing to be afraid of. Just another wave of change in the endless movement of the universe.

  10. marilee r torres says:

    yes…….but…..debating with Buddhism gets me loopy-or caught in circularity 😀 which if different than ping-ponging in duality.i hear Roger-i WAS the beaten wife, and i still find it hard to swallow that i accepted or allowed…until i saw the light and refused to be a part of it…there is an innocent ignorant time before there is awareness of boundaries, knowing self -acceptance…there is a time *before* and when still unaware one is a sort of accepting victim-but ignorant of any alternatives.

  11. ARCreated says:

    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
    Perfect 🙂

  12. Ben_Ralston says:

    Beautifully said Pauloone – that's exactly it.
    When we truly believe that everything is perfect as it is, we are more loving… as such, whenever we see imbalance, we take action. Its' in our perfect nature to do so… so complacency is impossible in one who feels the inherent perfection of nature.

  13. Natalie Jobling says:

    Thought precedes form.

  14. Val says:

    Love this article and the discussions it provokes! So many thoughtful people. It has given me a lot to think about… Thank you!

  15. Padma Kadag says:

    Aron…How can death not be relevant?

  16. Padma Kadag says:

    Ben…Lovely answer. What is the goal of your spiritual teachings? What is it that you hope to attain for yourself and your students? I ask because you qualified previous answers with "research and being a spiritual teacher". Is there a "guarantee" that the Bliss you claim to maintain is not subject to karma and how will this Bliss help you during or after you have "shed your skin"?

  17. Ben Ralston says:

    Thank you Val for loving and thinking.

  18. Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Well said!

  19. Lynn Hasselberger says:

    Phenom discussion. Thanks, Ben!!!

  20. Ben Ralston says:


    First of all I must correct you about one thing:

    You simply have no basis for this question: “Is there a “guarantee” that the Bliss you claim to maintain”…

    …because I have never claimed myself to maintain bliss. It would seem that you have jumped to certain conclusions about me. I am not claiming to be enlightened. I am not claiming to be a Guru.

    To answer your other questions: my ‘work’ is simply to share what I have found. But it is not really work in the sense that some people think of work, because to me it’s very joyful. Not a struggle.

    I don’t ‘hope to attain’ anything. I am just living my life with the courage to follow my dreams. I always dreamed that it must be possible to be completely fulfilled in life – in relationship (first with myself, and then with others) and in ‘work’. In order to achieve that fulfillment I had to be uncompromising and courageous in my choices, and eventually i found what I was looking for.

    As for your last question, I’d rather not be drawn into another debate about Bliss, I think we covered that at length here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/09/living-lif

    How about you tell me something about yourself?

    With love,


  21. Padma Kadag says:

    Ben…Thank you for your response. No I am not interested in another Bliss debate. But I am still curious about how Bliss does figure into your teachings? You speak of Bliss and you have said that you are a spiritual teacher. Certainly do not feel that an answer is necessary. I have asked this question of others who have been in pursuit or have attained some kind of Bliss. I am interested in the many concepts of Bliss and the, what appears to be, thinking behind that this may be enough to attain some kind of wisdom or state which will make one ONE. Regarding the "guarantee", yes you have never made that claim. Yet your lovely style of writing expresses the ease of Bliss and "perfection". Because if this ease of putting into words I was interested in the method of your experience. As for me, I try not to get too comfortable. As for anyone who is a "Columnist" they should expect to be asked questionsregarding their subjects. As you have so graciously attempted to answer

  22. Ben Ralston says:

    Great content, great article. Buddha believed that life is suffering. To acknowledge that piece is essential. Suffering in the form of sickness, old age, poverty and death. Those things are real. I believe you are saying that we must change our perspective when these real life changes occur and cause suffering. Reading the article had me thinking that you were insisting by simply changing the paradigm, we can eliminate suffering and chaos altogether. That we create it. Most of the negative energy is reflected, but suffering is static and part of life’s reality.

    Thanks for the thoughtful response J.

    I think it’s both: we *can*eliminate suffering from the world – but I guess not all of it. We can eliminate war (when all people evolve enough), and we can similarly eliminate poverty, because we have the technology, and there is enough food to go round.

    However, I also think that suffering is often a question of perception: people in the West often think of poverty as suffering, but to be perfectly honest, some of the happiest people I’ve ever met have been the poorest people I met on my travels in the developing world… so poverty does not equate to suffering necessarily. Wealth often does equate to suffering!

    We will never be able to eliminate old age: but with old age comes wisdom (should do anyway!)… old age is only suffering if one places more value on mobility and physical condition than they do on wisdom, spiritual awareness, and peace of mind. So why should old age be suffering – I know that I have become happier as I’ve grown older, and I think I’ll continue to do so…

    As for sickness, there is often a great deal of suffering there. I watched a documentary once called “The boy whose skin fell off”. It was about a boy with a *very* rare disease that caused his skin to literally fall off. Every day he was skinned alive. One of the most moving things I’ve ever seen was the way he handled his pain. He believed he was atoning for sins in past lives, and knew he would die feeling relief that his suffering was over.

    I can honestly say that watching that documentary changed my life, and I’m sure it did others.

    There is always a silver lining in every cloud: something positive comes from everything that happens, no matter how ‘negative’ we feel it to be. Suffering is just one side of a complex coin, and I truly feel that if we *choose* to look at life as if everything is perfect, it helps us to find that silver lining.

    Ultimately it’s a choice (like anything else). The reason I preach this choice is that I’ve found it very, very helpful in terms of personal development and self healing.

    With love, Ben

  23. Blake says:

    Put down "perfect." It's just another label.

  24. Ben_Ralston says:

    Surely not!
    Form precedes thought.

  25. Ben_Ralston says:

    Padma, first let's define Bliss.
    For me, bliss is the deepest possible all-encompassing sense of relaxation: it is what a small baby clearly feels as it giggles and gurgles and admires the world around it – when nothing is lacking. Of course, when the baby gets hungry, all that changes… but in the moments when the baby has all it needs: mother is nearby, belly is full, environment is safe and warm: then the baby appears to be – to me – in bliss.
    Now, this deep state of relaxation is beyond most people, because they are too focused on problems – what is lacking. If, like the baby, they would need only food, warmth, and safety to feel utterly relaxed and happy, then they would be capable of bliss. But the truth is that in today's society the vast majority of people suffer from the opposite of relaxation: *stress*. And not mild stress, but toxic, deeply rooted, compulsive stress.

    So, for me, bliss is the natural outcome of relaxing as deeply as possible.
    The deepest relaxation only occurs when the mind is focused… when there are too many thought waves, the consciousness is 'stirred up', and relaxation is limited: so when the mind is focused, and relaxation goes very deep, a meditative state is entered. When this is practiced, we can go deeper and deeper, and finally know what true bliss tastes like. It is the experience of absolute love, or oneness. Total being.

    So, this is more or less how I would define bliss, for now.
    To answer your "how does it figure in your teachings?" – for me, it is really a point to which I would like to bring people. Not for the experience of bliss itself, although as a goal it's not a bad one. But my motivation is more about transformation. Since a child, I have always felt a great injustice in the world; always been deeply saddened by the plight of animals at our hands; always wanted to share my experience fully with people, but been mostly disappointed by other people's lack of openness and honesty.

    For many years these things caused me great – wait for it – suffering! I have come to accept the world as it is, and part of that acceptance has come from the deep realization that all is as it should be.
    Now, though my experience of bliss is not permanent, it is usually within my reach, and I find that when i experience it, there is nothing I want more than to share it.

    I have a vision of a world in which all people are able to experience such deep focus and relaxation and bliss, and i see that there would be very little suffering: in that state of awareness a person has no interest in greed, anger, lust, or any of the things that cause more suffering.

    I believe that in order to truly change the world for the better, we must first stop contributing to the suffering ourselves. We can be as noble and well meaning as we wish, but while we continue to cause the problem, we cannot solve it.

    My vision requires people to make this their priority: self awareness, that leads to deeper relaxation and focus, and finally bliss, or love, that leads to genuine compassion. Personal transformation must come before global.

    Because honestly, we cannot be truly, fully, compassionate until we are completely secure in ourselves, and I see that this security only comes from the freedom that real, lasting bliss / love gives.

  26. Ben_Ralston says:

    it's a good one huh? Great comments from people, challenging, honest, courageous…

  27. Ben_Ralston says:

    But Marilee, you did accept and allow.
    Even before that, you *chose* your husband – an abuser.
    Until you take responsibility for those choices, and what came out of them, I fear your healing will not be complete.

    I agree with what you say about innocence and ignorance – unawareness leads you into the role of victim: if you knew better then, you wouldn't have done what you did.

    We cannot teach rapists anything. We can sharpen our spirit so that we no longer contribute to the causes of these things. Don't worry about enlightening others until you are enlightened yourself: otherwise you simply allow yourself to be distracted from the real work – in my opinion.

    With love

  28. Padma Kadag says:

    Thank you Ben…I appreciate your willingness to "lay it out there"! Very Good.

  29. yogadon says:

    you want to be happy,be happy, you want to be sad, be sad, you want to be angry,be angry, you want to be enlightened, be enlightened, just be

  30. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hi Ramesh,
    Thank you!
    I am aware of these subtle philosophical differences between yoga and tantra, and different branches of vedantic philosophy within each… but the truth is I turned my back on philosophy a little while ago.
    I was in training to become a Swami; met my wife; who introduced me to an enlightened teacher… who keeps things really simple. And now I find myself thinking more and more in his terms.
    I see that everything has reason: there is no real chaos, only cause and effect. As such, everything in the world is perfect as it is.
    I love the quote from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj… something like:
    Only one who is beyond the need of help, can truly help others.
    That's what I believe – perfect yourself, then worry about the world. If we all did that with all our energy and attention, within one generation we'd have peace on earth. Two at most. It's going to happen but not that fast! Kali Yuga still has some way to go right?
    Love, Ben

  31. Ramesh says:

    Ben, in so many words, perfection is a state of mind! My philosophy is not to turn my back on anything…. philosophy is important, logic is important, rationality is important, science is important, as signposts to live by. But if these just becomes an intellectual game, philosophy is useless. I agree with you in a deep sense that we must firts perfect ourselves, and as part of that perfection, deep yoga philosophy is a useful tool to reveal dogma and new age mumbo jumbo.

    Peace on earth? Peace in the heart, yes! But ultimate peace in the world, not possible! Even in nature there is no perfect peace, there is suffering, there is pain. Not always peace. Peace is a state of mind, and thus perfection is only possible in the spiritual realm. That beautiful insight is also yogic, or Tantric, and I think it is very useful and devoid of illusion.
    I love Nisargadatta. His classic book I am That, is often in my hands and heart. But I love Krishna even more, because he understood this tantric balance of the dual and the nondual. Just look at a bird when being eaten by a wolf, it is not peace, it is brutal pain and fear. That is also part of nature. Only in the spiritual heart of the realized yogi is there ultimate peace and love. Have no illusion and be brave in the heart with infinite love! The world will always have a certain element of turmoil and chaos and pain and violence. That's how the universe works, from imperfection toward perfection….That is God's Divine Dance, and we should see it in the face, have no illusions. Divine perfection is a state of being!

  32. All is perfect, so perfectly perfect!
    Whatever being lives, moves
    And breathes on Earth
    At every level from atom
    To galaxy is absolutely perfect in its place
    Precise and choreographed…

    When you have surrendered your ego
    To "That"
    You will find true happiness….

    (Isa Upanishad)

    Bob Weisenberg

  33. Steve S. says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reminds me of aspects of "Conversations with God". Very powerful series of books.

  34. Ben Ralston says:

    Hmmm, sacred 'activism' and yoga 🙂 … reminds me of the verse that I consider the most 'important' in the BG:

    "He who sees action in inaction, and inaction in action, he is wise among men; he is a yogi"

  35. Barbara says:

    Beautiful piece, wonderful discussion – thank you!

  36. Joe Sparks says:

    Humans, free of distress, would automatically care deeply about the universe around them and seek to work to build a just society, clean up the environment, and pursue all other desirable goals.

  37. Ramesh says:

    Ben, using the wonderful quote Bob gifted us from the Isa Upanishad, I'd summarize my point as follows: Great is the yogi who surrenders his or her ego to THAT, greater still is the yogi who surrenders his or her ego to THAT while also serving the world to make it a better place for all of us. That is sacred activism!

  38. Ben_Ralston says:

    Hey Ramesh,

    "he who sees action in inaction, and inaction in action, he is wise amongst men; he is a yogi"
    BG 4/18


  39. Ramesh says:

    Fantastic choice, Ben!

  40. […] Really disappointed in how our culture relies so heavily on a binary system; if there is something in-between physical and mental we avoid it or institutionalize it. I’ve never found comfort in church like settings and thus in […]

  41. […] and even new experiences can teach you different versions of the same old lessons. If the past was perfect, why wouldn’t the future be perfect, too? Yeah, you’re going to make more mistakes because […]

  42. Andréa Balt says:

    God help me stop looking. Give me the courage to see.