Updated: Apr 4, 2020
At first glance, it is easy to mistake the concept of impeccability with perfectionism, but they are vastly different in that anyone who seeks to be perfect generally comes from an egoic place, and the one whose goal is impeccability comes from an exceptionally humble place.
Impeccability is about living a life of conscious, ethical, accountable choice, always aware that none of us is certain how much time we have on this planet, and that every moment, every thought, every communication, every action matters in terms of our own personal evolution in the time we're given in this incarnation. It is a life lived where mistakes are quickly owned up to and corrections made simply as a code of honorable behavior, as there is no room for egoic defense when fully embracing the path of inner transformation.
I first heard the concept of impeccability decades ago when I began reading the books written by Carlos Castenada that recounted his apprenticeship with a Yaqui Indian shamanic teacher named don Juan Matus. Although some claim don Juan was simply a fabrication, Castenada's writings about the nature of authentic spiritual warriorship hold valuable lessons on how to navigate our way in our life's journey. At the time, don Juan's teachings went way over my head, but were always something I returned to repeatedly as I gained awareness about how we show up in the world is a direct reflection of our degree of awakened understanding, and Castenada's books are highly recommended. Distilling impeccability down to its essence, don Juan said to Carlos, "Impeccability is nothing but the proper use of energy." That sounds simple, but it is layered in subtle complexities due to the nature of the mental interpretations and personal agendas of the individual. For instance, as we saw illustrated in the Star Wars saga, the bottom line choice is on what side of the Force one wishes to attain mastery, as all the characters sought impeccability in each dimension of their chosen warrior expressions, demonstrating one can become a master of white or black magic depending on what road they choose. In the context of choosing the light side of existence, we will look at what is "proper" use of energy. As we grow in both collective and personal consciousness we see that is unwise to waste energy, which means not wasting time, knowledge, gifts and talents we've been given, nor taking advantage of or for granted people and resources. For the spiritual warrior, death is the constant reference point that keeps the ego in check. As don Juan said, "A warrior must learn to make every act count, since he is going to be here in this world for only a short while, in fact, too short for witnessing all the marvels of it." Impeccability is about paying attention to what is going on all around us, and not being lazy on any level. It is not deluding ourselves with the ignorant narcotic notion that there are choices without consequence, and owning the fact that denial and blame are useless and ultimately rather petty. Impeccability does not allow us to be self-involved or self-indulgent and carry on as victims or entitled spoiled brats. It is the framework for a life lived with constantly mindful self-discipline and inner strength, because, as I have stated many times before, it is not enough to have knowledge or good intentions. The words of teacher A. Hameed Ali reflect the many dimensions of living a life of impeccability:
"Choosing to be an impeccable warrior means choosing to be a person, choosing to be a responsible adult, instead of being your mother’s baby. There is dignity in it; you are your own person, your life is your responsibility and you always have the choice to do your best. Impeccability can be in action, in feeling, in thinking. Impeccability can be in terms of the will, in terms of the mind, in terms of the heart."
In other words, it is an all-encompassing focus on aligning yourself with who you wish to be and what you wish to reflect on a consistent basis. Living impeccably means there is no gap between what you project to believe and how you act, as there is no room for hypocrisy whatsoever. It means being a person of your word, and someone that can be counted on to always show up with integrity no matter what the situation. Living with impeccability is a doorway to freedom from the small self. As don Juan said, "The only freedom warriors have is to behave impeccably. Not only is impeccability freedom; it is the only way to straighten out the human form." How do you begin to live the life of an impeccable warrior? Choosing impeccability is fully conscious decision, a commitment you make to bring all aspects of your life into order, and is taken with seriousness, humility, discipline, compassion and a sense of self-effacing humor. Deeply self-honest inquiry into the nature of your existing personal worldview and how you assembled it is a pre-requisite. Of course, it's easier said than done as looking at our samskaras—the patterns, weaknesses and shadows that play over and over in our awareness like a stuck groove in a disk—requires doing the work, and the ego generally resists at best and kicks and screams at worst. A wise approach is to begin with small steps and allow yourself to observe and monitor your thoughts and actions as an impersonal witness, making either mental notes or by journaling (highly recommended, as it allows you to step back from yourself a bit easier). Secondly, you incorporate constructive feedback from those whose observations you trust and respect, as we all have our blind spots and an outside point of view can be extremely helpful as long as we don't react defensively. As you attain small successes, you build upon that inner strength and accomplishment by creating new ways of living that don't keep you stuck in old samskaric patterns and away from awakened states of consciousness. You start living life with a moment-by-moment awareness as to what the mindful, impeccable choice in any given situation would be instead of reflexively falling back on spiritually self-destructive behaviors.
Remember to not to seek rewards or pats on the back simply because you have chosen to live an impeccable life. As don Juan said, "The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to infinity." Choosing impeccability is choosing the right thing to do in every moment even if you think nobody notices. Trust me, it will be noted where it matters. As A. Hameed Ali states so clearly, "When you are really impeccable, that’s it. It’s not as if you’re looking for truth because truth will lead you someplace, to something else. No. You are dedicated to the truth because the truth is truth. It is the same thing with impeccability."
A way to constantly reality check yourself is to simply ask in any personal challenge or dilemma you face, "If this were my last moment on earth, is this how I would want to behave?
So instead of running to the freezer to consume a pint of Ben and Jerry's or maxing out your credit card on two pairs of designer shoes when you are feeling sad, choose a different response that is reflective of proactive inner strength instead of reactive self-indulgence. When your first response to being cut off in traffic is to scream obscenities, choose to take calm, deep breaths. When you think you can pull off a lie because you know you won't get caught, always remember you can't pull a fast one on Source/God/Spirit. When you succumb to the blame game instead of taking personal responsibility for your part in any given situation, know this is spiritually immature behavior. When you find yourself thinking you are special and above others, get over yourself and do some anonymous selfless service. Instead of ingesting toxic substances like cigarettes, dangerous drugs, too much alcohol, chemically-laden foods or consuming way more than you need, honor and respect your body and treat it accordingly. Wherever you see imbalance or excessiveness in any area of your life, work to bring about equilibrium.
When you realize you have hurt others by your actions or words, go make amends and stop living a life you have to defend or apologize for all the time. When you find yourself beating yourself up or indulging in false humility, stop it. When you find yourself trying to seek approval from outside sources for everything you do, work on developing healthy self-worth. If you simply accept what any person or group says without carefully pondering if it is truthful and valid, take time to investigate and own your own mind. When you find yourself primarily thinking about what you want and need in a relationship, put on the other person's shoes. If you find yourself compulsively attracted to getting caught up in cheap, petty dramas, ask yourself what are you getting out it? When you find yourself making "really great excuses" as to why something won't work so you won't even try, consider taking the risk anyway. Let the fact that there are no guarantees as to how much time you have wipe out any stupid pride or grudges or notions that you are right and they are wrong and "its up to them to make the first move" attitudes you are self-righteously holding on to which will ultimately make you have to live with regret—because all of a sudden it's too late. Instead of bitching and moaning about how awful things are, go out and be the change you wish to see in the world.
As A. Hameed Ali suggests:
"It is not to be perfect but to do your best, to act according to all the wisdom, all the understanding, all the experience, all the awareness, all the will that you have." And when you find yourself trying to be perfect, try being impeccable instead.
© 2020, Suzanne Matthiessen, innerevolution media. All rights reserved.