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The balance of things

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I'm not sure if any of you have noticed this, but I have a pretty deep fascination with Taoism and the Tao de Ching (I mention it like this because my signature is an excerpt from the book). Anyway, I've been thinking recently -- oh god I know what a horrible thing to do! -- and I have been contemplating the idea of balance. Now, for those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Tao de Ching, it is an ancient Chinese philosophical/religious text that was meant to instruct its readers on how to live a deep, meaningful, and peaceful life. Whatís more, it speaks deeply about the idea of balance in oneís life. Have you ever seen the Yin and Yang? Well, that is a Taoist symbol meant to represent the balance required for life. For every Yin, there must necessarily be a Yang.

Iím sure at this point you must be laughing quietly to yourself at the absurdity of talking about such a text. After all, if you did your research you would find the book itself is older than the Bible and its inception is clouded by mystery. The writing is unclear and poetic, while also very much of an umbrella gospel as it seems to cover everything under the sun with enigmatic language. But, regardless of its age or its complexities, I think that we can all take something away from the writings; namely that a good life is marked by balance.

What I mean to get at is this: the idea that happiness is the solution to the human plight is as outlandish an idea that all hate could be eradicated in the world. Allow me to explain. The Tao teaches that for every good (or what we as humans call good) there is a bad, something to balance it. So, some examples might be as follows: to Hunger there is fullness; to Happiness there is Sorrow; to Peace there is Violence.

What we find then, is that a good life is not found just in peace, or in happiness, or in fullness, but rather in a middle-ground between the two poles. If one wished to find a Western example of such teachings, one could look to the Epicureans who taught of moderate hedonism -- or the indulging (in moderation) in pleasure. Pleasure is something that allows humans to thrive, but indulging in purely just pleasure man would not flourish.

So, in a very long winded way, we arrive at my point. We see so much violence in the world and so much hate because it sells on the TV or in the newspaper, but I wonder, is there enough love to balance all this hate? Have we strayed too far from the balance of things that we have thrown a branch into the spokes of life, causing mayhem and destruction? Or, is there a true balance that each of us strikes up daily either through the love that swells in our breasts for others or the small acts of kindness which go unnoticed due to their uninteresting congenial nature? Either way, let us not forget the idea of balance, for I think that it is paramount to our livelihood, even if I do not denominate myself a Taoist or a Buddhist or a Christian.

Happiness is not the answer, but neither is self-pity and sadness. Let us look to strike a balance between the two. It is not evil or vile to be happy; rather it is normal, so long as you donít shy away from the idea of being sad now and then. Because in the balance we strike, in that grey space where black and white intermingle and fade, that is where we find contentment. That is where a good life exists.

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Updated August 11th, 2016 at 12:11 PM by Greyson

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  1. Plasticweld's Avatar
    The other way to look at it, is that you can find both sadness and happiness in anything. Me being an optimist always tend to see the good in things, a pessimist the negative. I don't need to acknowledge the pessimist or his thought to validate mine, for me "happiness is the answer" in that area I seek no balance.
  2. kaminoshiyo's Avatar
    I'm not sure if things tend to balance out as one might think of it rather than we get varying amounts of good and bad in our lives.

    Personally, I want to strike toward the ideal, not a balance. I want the good, not the good and the bad. Maybe the bad is inevitable, but i can decrease the amount of bad in my life if i do all in my power to remain good.
  3. Smith's Avatar
    ^ Perhaps it is better to think of things as a balance, in the sense of a mechanical balance. And that yes, we do have a certain amount of influence we can use to try and tip the scale in the favor of more good than bad.

    Sort of reminds me of the old Native American story about the good and bad wolf, and having the ability to choose which to feed.

    But if you've ever heard of complacency, or boredom, or chaos theory, I think "bad" might seem naturally necessary.
  4. escorial's Avatar
    life is about finding these things out..everyone defines life's journey differently and most will be of the opinion this happened to me and i done this..blah,blah..so why can't you... your journey is only yours to travel and all the decisions were yours to take, whether wrong,forced,manipulated,correct,perfect..the journey started with you and will end with you so find that happiness man.
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