"Don't look for perfection in me. I want to acknowledge my own imperfection, I want to understand that that is part of the endlessness of my growth. It’s absolutely useless at this stage in your life, with all of the shit piled up in your closet, to walk around and try to kid yourself about your perfection. Out of the raw material you break down you grow and absorb the energy. You work yourself from inside out, tearing out, destroying, and finding a sense of nothingness. That nothingness allows God to come in. But this somethingness— ego and prejudices and limitations— is your raw material. If you process and refine it all, you can open consciously. Otherwise, you will never come to anything that represents yourself...The only thing that can create a oneness inside you is the ability to see more of yourself as you work everyday to open deeper and say, fine, ‘I’m short tempered,’ or ‘Fine, I’m aggressive,’ or, ‘Fine, I love to make money,’ or, ‘I have no feeling for anybody else.’ Once you recognize you’re all of these things, you’ll finally be able to take a breath and allow these things to open."
The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, and that one is prepared in the end, to be defeated, and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals.
Gradual awakening means that change and healing happen gradually as a result of the accumulation of causes. This is more the common way that healing is understood to occur. As a result of doing this and that a person gradually gets better.
Source: The Psychology of Zen Buddhism (dissertation)