A fine balance

To attain balance in body, mind and spirit, is no small matter. It calls us to free ourselves of the pull and push of craving and aversion, and of the emotional and psychological needs that keep us in thrall, says Suma Varughese
A friend of mine still has not forgiven her father for an incident that happened many years ago. She was a college kid then, and while driving the family car, she had an accident that all but wrecked it. Thoroughly shaken, she came home to a ballistic father whose rage could not be appeased. She is angry with him not because he bawled her out, but because he did not even notice that the car may have been totalled but she, his daughter, had had a miraculous escape.
On the other hand, a Facebook story shares that when parents call their children on their mobiles, and do not get a response, 99 per cent immediately jump to the conclusion that their child is either dead or dying. Only one per cent entertains the sane thought that perhaps they did not hear the phone, or were not near the phone!
Is such an ideal achievable? Like all absolute ideals, it too has its basis in the spiritual journey and it will be realized in its full perfection when we reach the end of that journey – when the ego has dissolved and the individual entity has merged with the larger consciousness. But even if we never get there, the balance journey is a crucial one for any level of happiness, health, peace and success.
While the quest for balance has always been critical for human happiness, history offers vivid proof that most of us have failed to get there. The bloody and brutal battles and wars, the sheer scale of inhumanity of man against man testify how much we have been in the grip of our lesser desires such as the lust for power, possession and conquest, and negative emotions such as anger, resistance and reaction.
Even when it comes to individuals, I am going out on a limb out here and asserting that the public space has not been too privy to examples of perfect balance. Even geniuses, it was popularly considered, were flawed in one way or the other, as if to make up for their considerable gifts. It was pretty much a given that they would be, at best, eccentric, or at worst, alcoholics, sexually promiscuous, or mentally unstable. We only have to look at the evidence furnished by writers and artists like Doestoevsky, Piccasso, Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath, and others to see that balance was completely off the map. Even enlightened spiritual masters may not have balanced every aspect of themselves. Many owed their spiritual evolution to their powerful right brains, but quite often their less able left brains put them at a disadvantage in practical matters. Ramakrishna Paramahansa or even J. Krishnamurti, were rather helpless when it came to worldly matters. Many lacked organisational skills or some vital part of human capability.
Our present times are pushing us to achieve balance individually at all levels. Whether we are men or women, existence is coaxing us to balance our male and female energies. Whether we are right- or left-brained, we are being goaded to develop a whole or balanced brain. Whether we are head people or heart people, we are meant to straddle the opposite dimension. Being thinkers or doers will not do, we are meant to be both.
Collectively too, nature is pulling us towards perfect balance. The East and West, who Rudyard Kipling had once considered inimicable, are steadily coming together. The East, the zone of the right brain, and the West, the zone of the left brain, are exchanging their skill sets, and developing the neglected part of themselves, and therefore arriving steadily at a middle ground.
It is a breathtaking prospect. Both collectively and individually we appear to be poised to achieve total balance. It is the call of the times, and an indication that we truly are moving towards a new era of evolution on Planet Earth.
The journey begins
The movement towards balance is nothing more or less than the movement towards enlightenment, for balance only happens when the pendulum swing of craving and aversion begins to slow down, if not actually cease. As long as we are in the hold of compulsive likes and dislikes, desires and distastes, we are not in our control, and therefore cannot achieve balance.
I have a friend who is a compulsive flirt. She loves the attention she attracts from men, and cannot give it up, although it has virtually destroyed her marriage. In my own case, my addiction to food has caused me great suffering, and plunged me into many ailments such as asthma and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is only through diligent inner work that I have largely healed myself of the ailments, and have brought my food addiction to a more controllable level.
Indeed, when I first awakened to the spiritual path, and started the work of inner cleansing, I was aghast to discover what a momentous task was before me. Having spent 16 years in a low-grade depression where I had more or less let myself go, I found that I was in a state of deep lethargy or tamas. And here I was trying to make my way into satva and then beyond! Furthermore, I found myself with little or no discipline, self-control, focus, concentration, sense of organisation or self-esteem. Naturally, my journey has been extremely turbulent, with huge swings of the pendulum leading me from compulsive impulses to equally compulsive resistances, giving me, and those around me, great pain.

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