Friday, September 23, 2011

the middle way

In every in-your-face tragedy, there comes a point where anyone simply has to step back, ignore the searing realities of the moment, and decide what to do. Perhaps they decide to do something that makes the situation worse. Perhaps they decide to do something that promises to make things better. Either way, you have to do something... this clawing, searing sandstorm is too much. Death, disease, drugs, divorce ... just to cite a few d's ... what's your next move?

But where is the balance? Step too far back and the very particular barbs of the situation are grossly ignored, buried under a feel-good fluff. Fail to step back and the storm consumes you with its on-going, self-fulfilling anguish.

I guess I am thinking about this because spiritual invitations can so often be used not to solve problems but to bury them. Sweet-talkin' Jesus has the answer; sage observations in Buddhism turn into more sage observations and more sage observations and ... well, shit, the problem is secretly and unwittingly enhanced because it is not addressed.

Where's the balance between acknowledging and addressing a problem directly and laying the groundwork for a nourishing resolution without getting drowned in sweet talk?

Someone once asked a Zen teacher the meaning of "the middle way." He replied, "It means the extremes." And that, as far as I can see, hits the nail on the head. There is no bullshitting sorrow and yet the bullshit is everywhere available. You can't 'seek' the middle way. You can only be it.

How? I haven't got a clue. "Live and learn" is about as good a reminder as I can think of.

No comments:

Post a Comment