Introduction to Balance
by Fiona Heath
Balance is the Unitarian Universalist way of being in the world. We seek balance, not redemption, not enlightenment. As Unitarian Universalists we choose to stand on the earth, within the greater mystery of the ever unfolding universe, honouring both the material and the spiritual.
We offer a middle way, an emerging balance theology, which links science and spirit. A religious balance theology is an ancient perspective but new to western culture. World religions scholar J.D. Windland places religions into three categories – Middle Eastern, Indian, and Balance. The Middle Eastern are the Abrahamic faiths, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They focus on the one God. The one reality faiths which originated in India, such as Hindusim, Buddhism, and Sikhism, focus on the self and emphasize the unity or oneness of all. Balance traditions have a focus on the universe. They originated in China, with Daoism and Shintoism, but also occur in indigenous cultures through out the world. In a balance tradition there is a striving for harmony with self, society, and nature. Balance traditions affirm humanity and the world.
Canadian Unitarian Universalism holds an emerging balance theology in addition to its liberal Christian and liberal humanist theologies. A focus on the here and now, valuing the earth as much as the mystery, acknowledging the connections between beings. This is our balance orientation. We strive for harmony with self, society and nature.
The religious concept of balance is deeper than making things equal out, or moving between two opposing poles. This is not about big brass scales weighing and measuring our time and behaviour. Some for family, some for work, some for exercise. Judging what we should or shouldn’t be doing.
Religious balance is subtle and complex. As anyone experiencing trouble walking – or even just standing – knows, keeping your balance isn’t just about having two feet to touch the ground. It is about centering. About finding the mid-point which can align with the earth (think of the tree pose in yoga where you stand on one foot). Balance is an act of alignment.
There are artists who balance rocks. They don’t stack them. They balance chunks of rocks on each other to make strangely beautiful stone sculptures. It takes incredible skill, patience, and “listening fingers”. They find the balancing point of an asymmetrical heavy rock
and stand it gently on another. They connect at a single point. It looks impossible. The sculptures are temporary as only gravity holds them together, but for a little while these ungainly rocks are graceful.
Finding balance in our lives is like stone balancing: difficult, temporary, and lovely. To seek balance means is to find the centre, the still point that allows it all to hang together. Finding your alignment.
Unitarian Universalism is an orientation which helps us balance the stones of our lives. Each set of stones, each alignment, will be different. Some of us will be more devoted to our work, some to our families, some to a personal passion, some to a particular place.
For each of us, finding our alignment helps us flourish. We are most truly ourselves when we find that sweet spot when it all holds together.
This month, as we explore the concept of balance, consider what centres you, what is the still point in your being?
(adapted from Starlings in Winter, a reflection given in February 2015)
November 01, 2019
November 01, 2019
November 01, 2019