True peace is achieved
And blending with life (Tao 22).
You hear a lot about being centered, but just what is it?
The ancient Greeks advocated “the golden mean,” or middle way.
Roman writer Vergil based his Aeneid on Pietas, or something akin to self-control.
Perhaps drawing on his Hellenic education, St. Paul advised moderation in all things.
Excess is always dangerous in any pursuit, for it forecloses on alternatives that may prove more tempered and thus wiser than those fostered by our passions.
Unfortunately, indulgence, or excess, defines history with its repeated accounts of obsession gone astray for power and possession. History is narcissism writ large.
At the everyday level, we hear continually of people who have ruined their lives and hurt others simply because they were unable to rule themselves.
Because self-interest especially dominates in politics and religion, I generally am suspicious of them both. As I write, there’s the rancor in Congress over raising the debt ceiling so government can pay its bills. Currently, however, a persistent few are willing to shut down government unless they have their way. As I’ve written in an earlier blog, political parties lead to narrow partisanship, as President Washington so wisely observed in his Farewell Address.
In religion, we needn’t dial back to the Crusades or Inquisition to access the violence of fanatical fundamentalism. If you look at a worldwide map, you’ll find religious mayhem abundantly distributed, whether in the Middle East, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, and Indonesia. As for Africa, there’s last week’s heinous massacre at Nairobi’s West Gate Mall in Kenya by Somali militants, who selectively shot non-Muslims. Nigeria has its own ongoing debacle with Islamic extremists. These things happen because without centeredness we lack balance and thus forfeit stability and often our humanity, too.
On the other hand, fraudulent centeredness can possess its own rigidity if focused merely on ourselves. True centeredness serves as a reference point that proffers balance, always its marker, between extremes. Think acoustics. Think harmony.
Centeredness promotes equilibrium, a check on ego, a capacity to not confuse the parts with the whole, enabling us to respond more patiently and thus more wisely. A state of being, it isn’t found in having.
Centered people aren’t dismayed by the fallout of time or chance. They see the evolving pattern and not the ephemeral circumstance. They’re grounded in the Eternal, not the transitory. Thus change and loss and disappointment don’t throw them off balance. In touch with themselves, they live in harmony with nature’s artifice. .
Writing from a jail cell and facing imminent execution, St. Paul could cogently advise his friends that they pursue “all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable–fill all your thoughts with these things.”
This is centeredness. This is harmony. This is the fabric of Eternity.