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We looked at the problem we have with balance last week, but now we’re going to look at balance itself.
Balance is not perfect and perfect balance is no more achievable than any other perfection.
So I wanted to pull back and step outside the system that we talked about last week to look at balance from the outside. (I realize that I just cautioned against this last week)
From a distance, we see that true balance is different from the idea we have of balance. When we think of balance we think of harmony and peace. It conjures up idyllic zen gardens with meditating yogis living a blissful, soulful existance. We think of life free from pain, agony and difficulty where everyone is happy and nobody suffers.
This is not balance.
If we pull back for a moment we can see the earth, and the teeming mass of life that lives here. This is balance. This is the system maintaining itself despite everything we do from within.
It is messy and chaotic.
There is joy, beauty, love and peace.
There is conflict, pain and suffering
The problem is that we associate balance as “good” and unbalanced as “bad”.
For example, we are supposed to:
Eat a balanced diet
Have fair and balanced reporting
Balance our checkbooks
Balance our personal and work lives
And balance our relationships
All of these ideas of balance are supposed to make our lives better. We perceive unbalanced as messy, dirty and bad.
We have to remove these associations from the idea of balance.
When I talk about balance I don’t mean that zen kind of balance, because that kind of balance doesn’t exist as a panacea. It exists within the system, but not as an achievable total of the system.
Look at the earth as a whole. This planet is one large ecosystem. It is comprised of trillions of smaller and smaller ecosystems.
And by our own reckoning, it’s a mess.
We have earthquakes, tsunamis, oil spills, pandemics and epidemics. There is starvation and global warming. Economic bubbles bursting, massive hoards of wealth with masses living in poverty.
It’s a mess, and it’s partly a mess because of more.
But it is also a mess because we perceive it to be a mess.
If we let go of those perceptions and look at balance without expectation, we will see something very different.
For example let’s look at wealth distribution. In the United States studies suggest that 10% of people hold 90% of the nation’s wealth.
Think about that for a moment and see how it makes you feel.
This wealth distribution is generally viewed as unfair. Anger and the desire for more create the expectation that this wealth should be spread out evenly among the populace.
Here’s what this looks like through our normal lens of perception.
This looks extremely unbalanced.
But if we look at it like this:
We can see the natural balance. In this example the wealth on the two sides of the scale totals 100%, matching the 100% of people on both sides of the scale.
I recognize the question of fairness and equality. The question of whether or not it is right that 10% of people hold that much wealth when so many people live in deprivation.
These are questions that are looked at through the lens of fairness and expectation, questions that don’t have clear answers.
Let’s assume for a moment that fairness and balance are the same. Now take a look at the wealth distribution systems such as taxes, charities, socialism, markets and theft and ask yourself if these systems promote or execute fairness?
Now ask yourself if they promote balance?
I think the wealth distribution example above suggests that they seek a natural balance despite the our own interventions in the system.
Now let’s look at a different balance, the balance of our presence here on earth.
Right now, we’re consuming 1 and 1/3 the resources the earth is able to provide.
That is out of balance, because of more.
As a response, the earth seeks equilibrium. To achieve that equilibrium, it has to offset the consumption of humanity, it has to reduce the consumptuion, or provide more resources.
And this equilibrium sought by the earth is a is a confirmation that there is something greater than us. I don’t necessarily mean God by this, whatever that means to you. Rather this is to demonstrate that humanity is not the pinnacle of all of this.
We are at the mercy of not only ourselves, but of the earth that we live on.
Look at the earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, blizzards, droughts, diseases, and other natural and man made phenomena that have deeply impacted humanity. These phenomena are an expression of the system we live in seeking it’s own balance.
This is balance, and it encompasses all of the messiness of life that we don’t associate with balance.
Just as the lion eats the zebra. Is that fair to the zebra? Maybe not.
Is it fair to let all zebra live to overpopulate their habitats, decimating their own resources? Is it fair to let them suffer the outbreak of disease, famine and death that will bring the zebra population down to a level that their environment can sustain?
Maybe not, but I believe that the outbreak of Chronic Wasting Disease that came to Wisconsin’s deer population was exactly that. Pushed out of their environments by our voracious development appetite, deer in Wisconsin are unable to find habitats that can sustain their populations. Chronic Wasting Disease is a natural balance exerting itself to bring the population in line with the habitats left to them.
So just as the lion eats the zebra to achieve balance, man hunts deer to help achieve balance.
What does this mean? It does not mean that I believe people deserve to die in the disasters that seem senseless to us. They are senseless from our point of view, but that is because our worldview assumes that we are the pinnacle of existence, and that death is to be feared.
But death is balanced by life and destruction is balanced by creation.
And knowing all of this, after taking a moment to look at it from the outside we have to ask ourselves the question we all ask at some point in our lives:
What does it mean?
It doesn’t mean anything at all.
The core idea that I’ve been getting to week after week is letting go, and this is the ultimate letting go. Letting go of all of our understandings, expectations, feelings, assumptions, wants and desires.
Including the idea of balance.
This is not a summit I have reached. I am not preaching down from on high. I am looking up, standing at your shoulder and, seeing that it all matters, and none of it matters. It is all balanced.
I seek balance in my life, equanimity for myself, and my balance is upset by the person who does not understand or care to cultivate balance.
And that itself is a balance.
So when you think of balance and seek it in your life, Accept and embrace the messy untidy nature of life. Accept that the dirty, horrifying, sad, messy and painful existence that we live in is full of wonder, life, joy, love and happiness.
Seek balance with an understanding that life is life. It is not for any reson. It is not to be squandered. It is who we are and it is how we express ourselves.
We often seek meaning and purpose in life, and with that comes expectations.
Seize that meaning and purpose, but leave out the expectation. Take up the game and play it with all of your heart and soul.
Forget about the score. It doesn’t matter.
This may seem very pithy, contradictory and amorphous.
This is exactly because life is not precise. There is no prescription, no answer, nothing but the existence we make for ourselves.
How you approach that existence is entirely up to you.
Embrace the messiness and grab the purpose and meaning in your life, live it hard with all your heart, and if it seems fair or balanced to you, share this via the tweet and like buttons below.