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.
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”…
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)…