CHAPTER ONE: HARMONY WITHIN BALANCE WITHOUT
Barbara Hannah, in her biography, Jung: His Life and Work, relates a story told by the great psychiatrist Carl Jung about Richard Wilhelm. Wilhelm was in a remote Chinese village while it was experiencing a terrible drought. After the villagers had tried numerous methods to induce the sky to drop it's rain with no success, they sent for a wise old Rainmaker from a far away village. Upon his arrival the old man "sniffed the air in distaste" and immediately secluded himself in a cottage on the outskirts of town. After three days it began to rain and the crops were saved.
Wilhelm was greatly impressed and sought out the Rainmaker who had now come out of his seclusion. Wilhelm asked him in wonder: "So you can make rain?" The old man scoffed at the very idea and said of course he could not. "But, there was a most persistent drought until you came," Wilhelm retorted, "and then --within three days --it rains?" "Oh," replied the old man, "that was something quite different. You see, I come from a region where everything is in order, it rains when it should and is fine when that is needed, and the people are also in order and in themselves. But that was not the case with the people here, they were all out of Tao (Balance) and out of themselves. I was at once infected when I arrived, so I had to be quite alone until I was once more in Tao ad then naturally it rained"
Like that Chinese villagers we too are in need of restoring equilibrium in our lives. There is a great yearning for balance in our time. With the pace of life quickened by technology, stressed by the workplace, and pressurized by relationship there is widespread longing for a better way. An aspiration for an approach to living that will bring more joy and satisfaction in the midst of what feels like the jumble of modern life.
Modern western culture has emphasized the material over the Spiritual. The mental over the emotional. As a result, we are out of balance. Through the fruit of our minds, science and technology we have almost won the "war against nature." In the process we are losing our selves. The victory is hallow and many are exhausted.
There is a better way, and it does not involve the loss of what we have already gained in material abundance. It is an addition not a subtraction. It involves the awakening of Spirit and the honoring of emotion. Integrated into our already well developed mental and material capacities, the renewal of Spirit and unfreezing of our emotional intelligence can create the internal harmony that will lead to the external balance we are seeking.
The underlying assumptions of this book flow out of a Spiritually oriented psychology. Fundamentally, we must nurture both our Spiritual identity and our emotional life if we wish to achieve balance. Each of us, as the Taoists sages teach, are already perfect. Underneath our socially constructed personality, at the level of the "uncarved block," we are flawlessness. It is only our social and personal histories which interfere with remembering who we truly are.
From an apparently different but complimentary Spiritual perspective, both Hindu and Christians sages teach that even within this human realm of apparent imperfection we are, each of us, on a constantly evolving journey to redemption. Our problems, our mistakes, our side journeys are not errors at all, but a pilgrimage towards wholeness.
Balance implies equalizing opposites, correct proportion, proper function, stability, and order. If we were to focus more fully and skillfully on developing our interior Self, our inner harmony, then the outcome would naturally be a reflection of this beauty; proportion and order in the various aspects of our external lives.
Balance is central to the pursuit of happiness. It is critical to the proper functioning of many human activities including the most hallowed of our time, science. As the principle upon which equations are based, balance is the foundation for much of mathematics, chemistry, physics and all the other physical sciences. Harmony and balance are generally considered the defining aspect of beauty in the arts, the measure of grace in painting, music, literature and dance. Balance is crucial to the successful execution of sport and other physical activities. Harmony and balance are major themes in the macro-economics of nations and the micro economics of homes. It is the primary principle for good health. And, all the great religions can be defined as having at their core what the Buddhists call the "middle way."
External balance, however, is not simply moderation. It is the equalization of opposing forces. The weight on both ends of a scale may be extreme, but if they are equal, there is balance. Balance is not the absence of excess, just as peace is not the absence of war. It is far more. Balance has a positive additive quality which integrates contrasting forces into a stabilized unity.
Leading life in balance is not about getting rid of anything. The "getting rid of" strategy, seldom works. It is an external solution to an internal problem. Though the injunction " just let go" appears to be easy and even hip, in practice it is almost impossible. It fosters a sense of failure and harmful self judgment. A more effective strategy is additive; cultivating inner harmony. From the quality of serenity which develops, the undesirable behaviors often drop away of their own accord..
For example, if we find ourselves worrying to the point of distraction, the command "stop worrying" is at best useless. It sounds good, in the same way that New Year's Eve resolutions are appealing but ineffectual. They are easy to make, satisfying for a short time, but overall create more conflict in the long run.
Alternatively, if we were to slow down, get quiet, perhaps take a walk we would be much better off. These activities dissipate the stored up energy driving worry while at the same time cultivates inner harmony. We would notice an immediate diminishment in anxiety, a sense of freshness, and it might produce the insight and power to make the necessary and proper changes.
is more than Temperance
We have learned Temperance
"don't go too far"
"fear the pleasure"
It's hard to practice Balance
when we have learned Moderation
It gets in the way
Balance is not a static quality or an end state which we finally achieve and then rest peacefully within it's embrace. It is a continuously unfolding process. Balance is wonderfully dynamic. In an integrated life we constantly move through balance. We move into it, out of it, and back into it again, endlessly. The motion is like a teeter-totter, each end an opposing quality and we, the inner Self, are the fulcrum upon which it is balanced. The emphasis is on the fulcrum, the inner harmony, and the action, the outer dynamic balance, flows from it but is not a static state.
It is really about the movement of balancing more than the state of balance. Like the moon, it is always changing, moving through phases, returning to fullness.
Recently, I did a series of workshops for executives and top sales producers with a large Philadelphia based financial institution. The workshop was called "Balancing Act: Integrating Work and Family Life." What impressed me in these encounters was the severe pain people were feeling. The irony was the presence of so much guilt, dissatisfaction, futility and powerlessness in a group of apparently self confident high achievers.
Initially, participants complained about the lack of balance between their work and family life. As we explored the issue further, it became clear to everyone that this imbalance in their outer lives was a reflection of the disharmony in their inner world. That the imbalance and discomfort they were experiencing in the various external components of their lives was deeply rooted in an inner discord of which they were previously not fully aware.
These people were startled by a discovery that is becoming increasingly apparent to many: we are nurturing our Selves even less than we are nurturing our families. No matter how much we wish to improve our lives, it will not really shift until the origin of the imbalance is addressed.
However outwardly successful these prosperous people were, it never felt to them like it was enough. No matter how many well intentioned resolutions these self starters made, it did not result in a balanced life. There was a deep seated and pervasive sense of loss and sadness. Life felt to them like it was slipping bye, and the material trappings simply did not fill the emptiness .
This phenomena is not confined to the United States or even the Western world. The rapid spread of our industrialized pace and technology has touched and effected almost every corner of the earth. The San Francisco Chronicle carried an article some months ago on the newly emerging South Central Asian Republics of Kazakstan, Krygzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The journalist described these former member states of the Soviet Union as "among the most thoroughly isolated lands of the 20th century." He noted that during his journey through this distant part of the world, he arrived in Ashkhabad, the Turkman capital, to hear the strains of "the macarena beating from loudspeakers at the outdoor rug market." He went on to say that, " At an outdoor mall in Tashkent the Uzbek capital, pedestrians line up to sing along with a Russian language karaoke machine. President Askar Akayev, whose 10 year old son surfs the Internet and idolizes software mogul Bill Gates, has ordered Hewlett Packard computers for every school in Krygyzstan."
There is nothing inherently wrong with technology, nor its spread across the globe. On the contrary, technology has brought us great gifts. However, the rapidity of its spread demands commensurate speed in developing counter balancing forces. The strength of our connection to our hearts and Spirits must grow if world culture is to find a satisfactory equilibrium. As has been noted by John Nesbitt, in his book, Megatrends, with the growth of "high tech," we need more "high touch."
It is hopeful that a significant proportion of the population is developing the consciousness necessary to adapt to our fast paced times. Bill Moyers, the popular television personality, has said that in his travels around the country the subject which he finds people most interested in and enthusiastic about is Spirituality. Similarly, in a large scale survey by sociologist Paul H. Ray, commissioned by the Institute for Noetic Sciences and appearing in the Spring, 1996 issue of "Noetic Sciences Review," the data shows that 24% of all American adults, or 44 million people, are what Ray calls "transmodern" or "culturally creative". That is, they are people who hold most highly the values of Spirituality, ecology, social consciousness, self development, authenticity and relationship.
If the survey data is correct, one quarter of the population is already making progress in the effort to harmonize themselves and balance the nation into the 21st century.
From a systems perspective, the cultural movement toward balance is to be expected. In general, large systems tend to move towards equilibrium in a dynamic way. They move in and out of balance. When they move too far from center, forces are generated within the system which draw it back toward equilibrium. The perfection lies in the fact that macroscopic forces at the system level support microscopic forces at the personal level to help us return to inner harmony and outer balance.
there is still hope
I was studying Spanish
listening to Mexican radio
when Bishop Carols said
"the more materialistic the society
the more the people hunger for God."
Harmony and balance are the inner and outer aspects of the same phenomenon. The inner aspect, harmony, is the fulcrum upon which the balance bar rests. The outer aspect, balance itself, is the quality of the two ends, the components of our lives. Harmony refers to our emotional and Spiritual condition. Balance is the way in which we integrate the external aspects of our lives; work and play, family and friends, activity and relaxation, church and community into a well proportioned satisfying whole.
Though the internal and external elements interact to support or inhibit each other, internal harmony has primacy. It is the foundation upon which the external components rest. It is the source from which the flower of balance grows.
Harmony functions at the level of cause. Balance is an external mirror of the inner state. Harmony is like the sun, it has originating energy. Balance is like the moon, it is reflective.
Though outer balance supports the growth of inner harmony, as the atmosphere creates the condition for healthy plant growth, it is difficult to effect change by shifting external behavior alone. Effective solutions and successful changes must address problems at their roots. For an effective cure the source must be treated. It is towards developing our internal harmony that our primary energy must flow so that our outer life reflects this beauty.
What does it take to develop this internal harmony? According to the psychology of Carl Jung, four core elements define the whole person. The Spiritual, the Emotional, the Mental and the Physical. For harmony to be present, all four elements must be healthy, active, and integrated.
As I see it, the four elements, are not equal. Spirit is at the center. It is the dominant causal and controlling factor. The extent to which our Spiritual house is in order largely determines the extent to which our emotional, mental and physical houses will be in order. Tragically, in western industrialized societies, this is often the least developed part of our selves.
a socio-Spiritual commentary
why so much violence in the movies?
as a culture
we are Soul Dead
we have forgotten the obvious truth
that indigenous peoples have known
since the beginning
there is a Mystery
and it is Sacred
beyond our understanding
call it God
or Chopped Liver
we need the fullness of Spirit
Spirit unites the Cosmos
most of us Know
though it's often hidden
under layers of cynicism
that there is a Force
greater than we
that science will never name
to attempt a society
based on materialism alone
like trying to breath air
in a vacuum.
denying the obvious truth
the Red eyed Monster
hoping to fill the hole
constantly seeking satisfaction
violence is the symptom
Emptiness is the cause
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