Readings on Balance
by Fiona Heath
“Balance is the keynote of spiritual attainment.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
“All of a person’s misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room.”
Everything has a right to live. Everything wants to exist and we have to respect that. The weaker side in any relationship naturally demands things, because of the need for mutual balance. War, sickness, unhappiness is imbalance. You can get sick from either over-eating or under-nourishment; excess yin or excess yang. Peace, health, happiness, is balance. The same for justice. In this restaurant, for example, justice in business exists if the owner can make a living and if you also feel that the price is right. Both sides of the picture are satisfied and stabilized.
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was often times filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
There is peaceful
There is wild
I am both at the same time
Equanimity doesn’t mean keeping things even; it is the capacity to return to balance in the midst of an alert, responsive life. I don’t want to be constantly calm. The cultural context I grew up in and the relational life I live in both call for passionate, engaged response. I laugh and I cry and I’m glad that I do. What I value is the capacity to be balanced between times.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 2: Soul Food
Everybody on earth knowing
that beauty is beautiful
that goodness is good
For being and non-being
hard and easy
complete each other;
long and short
shape each other;
high and low
depend on each other;
note and voice
make the music together;
before and after
follow each other.
That’s why the wise soul
does without doing,
teaches without talking.
The things of this world
exist, they are;
you can’t refuse them.
To bear and not to own;
to act and not lay claim;
to do the work and let it go;
for just letting it go
is what makes it stay.
Translation by Ursula K. LeGuin
This distinction that I am making between purpose and meaning isn’t always carefully maintained in our everyday language and thought. In fact, we could avoid a good deal of confusion in our lives if we did pay attention to the distinction. It takes only a minimum of awareness to realize that our inner attitude when striving to achieve a purpose, a concrete task, is clearly different from the attitude we assume when something strikes us as especially meaningful. With purposes, we must be active and in control. We must, as we say, “take the reins,” “take things in hand,” “keep matters under control,” and utilize circumstances like tools that serve our aims. The idiomatic expressions we use are symptomatic of goal-oriented, useful activity, and the whole of modern life tends to be thus purpose-oriented.
But matters are different when we deal with meaning. Here it is not a matter of using, but of savoring the world around us. In the idioms we use that relate to meaning, we depict ourselves as more passive than active: “It did something to me”; “it touched me deeply”; “it moved me.” Of course, I do not want to play off purpose against meaning, or activity against passivity. It is merely a matter of trying to adjust the balance in our hyperactive, purpose-ridden society. We distinguish between purpose and meaning not in order to separate the two, but in order to unite them. Our goal is to let meaning flow into our purposeful activities by fusing activity and passivity into genuine responsiveness.
Brother David Steindl-Rast
Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.
To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.
“Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of our being.” Orison Swett Marden
“Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us.” Melody Bettie
This short essay by Bahram Akradi from Experience Life offers a description of what it means to live a life of balance.
From the Church of the Larger Fellowship, The Rev. Meg Riley offers up a consideration of the struggle to find balance.
May 01, 2020
May 01, 2020
May 01, 2020