A Matter of Balance

Much of the answer – as to Who am I? What am I to do? How am I to do it? etc. – begins with or can be found in one word: balance.

At different times in my life I have encountered (& been affected by) those who (continually or exclusively) tout “get in touch with the inner you”, “look inside yourself”, “peace, peace”, “love yourself”, ‘”you can’t love another if you don’t love yourself first”…

This thinking in and of itself is OK, but things get worse when the ‘meditators’ start implying that nothing much can be done without meditating first, or meditating is the only way to deal with life… forests being killed off? let’s meditate & chant… or do you mean that I can’t love my hungry neighbor and feed him until I love myself?
…Something in this song just seems a bit off key to me.

Sometimes being near these people causes me to get kind of mixed up about things… maybe it’s because I’m weak at the time, or because I’m in need of the message – but I start to doubt myself, thinking or believing that maybe I don’t know myself like I should (like this one or that one keeps implying) and therefore I’m not qualified to act… that I’m missing something inside so I better stop & meditate & ‘get’ it before I do something outside.

In the past couple or three weeks I went through a phase like this (again). But there was one difference this time – I was determined to figure out why this ‘spiritual agitation’ happens… what is the cause of this effect?

Well, I found out…
It is because – as I’ve said before in other posts – everybody is right and everybody is wrong.

The people who push the ‘know your inner self’/meditation thing are right – insofar as this is a good thing to do… well, that’s kind of self-evident isn’t it?

But they are wrong when they present it as something that should be (or even must be) accomplished before any real action can be taken (or even instead of).

Example of why they are wrong:
If I have children to feed, I have to feed them. Doesn’t matter if I know myself or not, if I love myself or not, or if I am healed inside or not – I have to feed the kids. Seems kind of obvious when I look at it like that… and it also implies priorities…

But still, this did not seem quite complete for my inquiring mind (an unfinished symphony) and I was determined to find a deeper, stronger understanding.

That’s when I was answered – it is all a matter of balance…

We each have/need to balance all the aspects of our lives – work & play, waking & sleeping, action & inaction, etc… Good start (and again obvious), but still not complete (for me). How do I know what to balance if I don’t know what is to be balanced? (how do I know what I don’t know kind of thing)

Well, let’s look at what we have (or are made of) that could be balanced… very simply & basically: heart, soul, mind – alive within a physical ‘carrier’ (or ‘spaceship’ if you want – but remember that we only ‘rent’ it for the duration)… and these three basics could be ‘translated’ into or may be synonymous with: emotions, inner self, thoughts… all good things… but they are internal, so we need to add the external influences which (rightly) are internalized.

Still, all of this is essentially useless (to anyone else other than ‘self’) without some form of action (doing) – influencing our environment or others (giving)… certainly right thoughts can count as influencing our environment but when they do that they are/become a form of action, do they not? Yes, I am aware that anything we do (inside or outside) can be considered action, but here I am differentiating between internal and external.

So balance implies that any one of these things, or all of them, should be nurtured, cultivated, utilized – equally. To spend more effort or time on one while ignoring the others can be problematic; can cause dis-ease (unless, as in an illness, one aspect needs the extra attention)…

I believe that we can & are meant to be in balance in all of our ‘aspects’ or dimensions… although we each have certain strengths (or talents) that bring one part of us to the fore, even in this we remain (or should remain) essentially balanced.

This is similar to, say, a healthy (as in not abused) child – who may be young and inexperienced (in all aspects/dimensions) but who may have a special talent for music. This child does not necessarily know ‘the inner self’ as we think of it, but probably is in better tune than most adults… and although the musical talent may stand out, the child remains in balance in work, play (being young, more of this), thought… The cool thing is, the child does it so effortlessly or unconsciously… He or she just ‘is’… something we somehow lose as we ‘grow up’.

So what am I trying to say?

At different times we should be ‘doing’ different things (keeping in mind that ‘not doing’ is actually a form of doing)… obvious again… if we are in balance, we know what to do… but even in this scenario, life determines some of the priorities and after that (or within that) we can/may determine others.

For example:
We may determine that meditation is needed at a particular time but life may determine something different at that time as when, for instance, our house is on fire. In this case, meditation and knowing myself may (or should) prepare me to deal with the fire appropriately (or accept the loss if it burns down) – but it will not help to put the fire out.

In other words, it is good to meditate and know myself, but it is also good and necessary that I take action – as in many cases meditation will simply not cut it… unless of course you are one of the blessed ones who has progressed to working miracles – in which case this entire post is pointless.

So this realization – a matter of balance in all – has helped me overcome the distraction of “oh wow man, let’s sit and OM our way out of this”…
How?
Why?

Because I believe that unless we are balanced (as individuals and as a group) we are doomed… because we need to be coupling our meditations with some solid & appropriate action (anything real and honest, using the best of our individual abilities) to remedy the situation that we humans are in – our current plight… if we don’t, then the chanting is (or soon will be) not only ineffective, but irrelevant…

We need to pour some water on this burning house that we live in… the meditating can come later (or when we’re on break resting & someone else is pouring)…

M

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About SprinklinThoughts

Give good to the world & make sense of it... the world, not the good... well... OK, the good too. :-)
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22 Responses to A Matter of Balance

  1. Many thoughts come to mind from your post. First, could you please define the word “meditation” as it’s meaning in this article. The word can mean many different things to many cultures. It can mean resting to some people and to others it’s a person sitting with their legs crossed and just eyes closed taking in nature.
    To others the words mean praying…So, hard for me to comment on this aspect without the meaning in this article.

    Although, I do feel balance is important as I myself have felt out of balance for sometime now. Well, external traumas knocked me off balance unexpected family illnesses, etc. seemed to put me on my behind and was off balance and still am. However, did notate the word, “self” used often in the post.

    Maybe this is the problem…each person is so wrapped up in this:

    Me, myself and I

    That we are not seeing, hearing, or noticing others needs and wants or important societal changes going on around us…while we are “meditating” on self, others suffer that could use our help.

    I did this, I went on a quest for “self” knowledge and discovery…and I found that my “self” is better when I help others around me, instead of questing for discovering who I am…Who are we, but a vapor and a mist soon to be gone…not my words of course.

    However, if a person gets too caught up in the quest for “who am I?” We often lose site of the needs of those around us and do not see others, I did this and caused many people much heartache. My selfish quest to find out who I was, made me lose site of those whom I loved and, thus the quest taught me:

    My “self” is only made up of those whom I love and care for…as my granny said:

    “Me, myself and, I never did nothin’ for nobody.”

    —-My grandmother’s words

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    • Meditation I would define as the focus on self with what commonly comes to mind (sit, crossed legs, etc.) — but I really like what OhcgD says in comments (below).
      Overall I agree with you.
      Bottom line: its all about what we give, not what we get.

      Like

  2. OhcgD says:

    Too often meditation is misrepresented. A person whose life is founded in somatic meditation is a person whose life is grounded in the reality of the moment. Duality is done away with. So there is no longer a concept of doing or not doing. But again, meditation, especially in the west, is misrepresented as sitting on a cushion thinking good thoughts and everything will be fine. The is actually harmful and spiritual materialsim. Meditation is somatic. The brain cannot meditate. Liberation is found through the body. So, being grounded in reality, in the moment, whatever needs to be done, gets done, selflessly. Sounds like you are just being exposed to inexperienced meditators. Don’t be too harsh, though. They’re just trying to find happiness as well. Took me a long time to find an authentic teacher

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    • Makes sense, thank you.

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      • OhcgD says:

        your welcome. I just came out of another 8 day stay in a hospital (mental health related) and realized I might have come off as authoritarian about the subject of meditation. I was at a point of “high static, neurotic living” phase, as I call it (all rights reserved and copyrighted, OhcgD…j/k) In this phase I can’t seem to get the millions of thoughts swirling around into a concise paragraph, so I apologize for the vagueness of my comment.

        I am speaking of my meditation lineage and tradition. I am way off mark and arrogant to think I can narrow meditation down to a single paragraph. In short, MY experience is that meditation is about touching the earth (as the Buddha did at point of enlightenment. He did this to make sure it was not a concept or thought, but an actual touching with reality of the moment unclouded by concepts.. again, MY experience) SO humbly, I apologize for judging someone or their experience; especially without knowing it first hand. But then again, I am human. And I’m trying to be more human.

        I do want to say how much love and gratitude (truly; this is not lip service) I have for you speaking honestly about a subject that is often considered taboo to criticize. I do not think we can go forward without challenging our beliefs; no matter how sacred.

        with gratitude

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        • No apologies necessary, really… I thought your comment was presented in a cooperative spirit, found it helpful (and lucid)… and that’s the way I took/accepted it.
          And thanks for the ‘gratitude’… just tryin’ to do my little bit…
          Hang in there 🙂

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  3. Gigi wanders says:

    Further to my first:
    A person who never meditates may be a better ‘meditator’ in how he negotiates the moments of his life than one who disciplines himself to meditate, say, twice a day for 20 minutes.

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    • Yes! I would call it ‘being in the moment’ – as children are able to do without meditation…
      But I believe there is some value in meditation in that a deep meditation does reveal certain things that are difficult to ‘see’ without it (if a person is searching for this)… I think this is the same with anything we do in that a certain focus and effort are needed to pursue depth (excellence?) in any particular endeavor…

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      • Gigi wanders says:

        Agree completely!
        It’s rather like, talent will get you only so far, after that some effort, focus, discipline, hard yakka etc is required ;,)

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  4. Gigi wanders says:

    Hallo

    MEDITATION
    I sincerely do not understand, nor practise, meditation the way you’ve understood and described it here. For me, the practise of meditation is meant to carry forth into your everyday prosaic life. If you are able to live each moment of the day completely absorbed in that moment, no matter what action or non you are engaged in, then you are a meditator.

    Meditation is not something I do, and then it is separate from the rest of my day. I try and lengthen that meditative ‘pose’ into all I do. Of course, I fail miserably almost all the time it seems, but I just do it.

    It’s not the practice that is tainted, but what people tout it as.

    BALANCE
    What the fulcrum (perfect equilibrium, still point) is for one person is not the same for another.

    Each stillpoint balance is unique, and to know your balance, it helps to know yourself. The better or deeper that knowledge, the easier and quicker it is to alight on that fulcrum. And stay there.

    Anyway, that’s my understanding.

    Interesting post. Thanks.
    G
    http://gigiwanders.wordpress.com/

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    • I agree and like the way you put it…
      I don’t practice meditation as such either, it is more of ‘tuning in’ as needed (or when I remember)…. balance IS unique for each person and in each moment…
      What you write is kind of what I was trying to get at — and you said it in less than half the words/time — I could almost be jealous but choose rather to be grateful for I have learned… thank you.

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  5. I’m so encouraged to have read this post. For many reasons, but one specifically continues to vibrate a certain awareness to life for me…

    My husband is a deeply practical human being. He is incredibly self-motivated, and his sense of self is implicitly tied to his ability to provide for our family, to accomplish a hard day’s work and make sure our needs are net. While this is a primal need found more often in men, it is 100% who he is. A ‘doer’.

    I’m quite different, in that my very existence is one giant philosophical meandering for me. I see everything in terms of what is real versus what is perception; what is beauty versus what is ugliness, what needs to be changed for the better good of humanity, versus what powerful revolutions have already paved the way for humanity’s inherent goodness. When I brush my hair, I contemplate the complexities of how the tiny molecules that comprise a hair follicle contain DNA. I wonder which museum has the ‘first’ discovered comb and where it might have been found. I consider my great fortune to live in a country that allows me to style my hair and wear makeup instead of covering my head with a shroud. I can’t help it. My brain’s appetite for knowledge and its constant curiosities are insatiable. It drives my husband stark-raving mad. Consequently, he finds me to be as much of a lunatic as I find him to be. God’s sense of humor is funny that way.

    But what makes this so significant is the inherent BALANCE that we create as a parental unit, as well as the incredible balance we have between us for the sake of our marriage. While it used to hurt my spirit to be so completely intellectually disregarded (which more often felt like being stifled), I’ve grown into an unshakeable gratitude for the very balance it provides.

    While it still discourages my heart on occasion to share my world with someone who doesn’t have the capacity to put the same emphasis on corporate greed & the need for change as I do, who doesn’t care whatsoever

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    • about the deeper implications of our way of life and what effect it will have on future generations, at the end of the day I am thankful to be the wife of a man who takes pride in being the man, who considers his responsibilities a priority over his own desires and dreams. That’s something not as many women can say as there used to be. The growth of gender roles in our culture shifted as women became more independent and self-reliant. The need for hunters and gatherers isn’t there like it used to be.

      It’s balance. Thanks for sharing.

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      • You are very lucky – not only to have such a man, but to know this and appreciate it (which is also something that not as many women can say as used to be)…
        FWIW, like you, (as you can see by this blog) I think all the time too and now that my ‘provider’ days are done I can spend more time at it – but I have to admit that usually when I’m combing my hair in the AM, pretty much all I think about is not losing the comb & have it fall into the toilet. 🙂

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  6. Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
    After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
    –Zen Buddhist Proverb; perfect irony.

    Beautiful post.

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  7. As a former gymnast I can attest to the necessity we all have to be centered at our core…..to find balance. Great post.

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    • Exactly – a good example… I think most people understand what it is when applied to their particular ‘field’… but it seems to me many struggle when it comes to applying it to other areas…
      Thank you for the comment… the confirmation helps to keep me going.

      Like

  8. risinghawk says:

    I must agree completely – balance is critical. And, as you have implied, balance is something that constantly shifts. We walk a balance beam all of the time, and constant adjustments are required to keep us from falling. At any given moment, weight (importance) may need to be shifted to one side or the other to keep our footing. This is a great post. Balance, balance, balance. Awesome stuff. Thanks! Blessings…

    RH

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    • I agree… the balance is a fluid thing…

      When I put something like this out there it’s good to know that I’m not completely off base or out in left field someplace… so, thank you…

      Like

      • Sometimes truth must learn to stand confidently in the awkwardness of an unfamiliar crowd, out of its comfort zone, “off base,” before it becomes accepted by the masses and reciprocated in a way that affirms the inner longings of our soul.

        It’s these types of leanings that make the greatest claims: the ones we haven’t the gumption to follow without waiting anxiously to see how the world might react; the ones we feel in our bones but must form new words for and fit uncomfortably in our newly aged skin. The ones without immediate gratifaction, where we know beforehand it will require much conviction of our spirit in order to remain committed. And yet these very same life-breathing ideas are typically the precipice for a deep awakening.

        Loveliest transparency and lovelier loyalty to honesty.

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