Ups and Downs

Some folks pretend the pandemic doesn’t exist. Others are extremely paranoid. Somewhere in the middle is a sane response. The most important thing is to look at our personal situation and discover the settled mind between denial and fear. One way to discover this middle path is to visualize the pandemic as a long haul drive and we do not know the destination. We can relax and enjoy the ride.

The middle path is free from extremes and always more relaxed—like the fulcrum of a seesaw is undisturbed by ups and downs. The habitual mind is full of ups and downs because we think we are able to control life challenges. This only gives power to the extremes. Just look at the stock market. It is controlled by the play of greed and fear. Our mind is no different if we do not settle in between.

Before Buddha experienced his awakening, Mara challenged him by attempting to provoke his desire and anger, attachment and aversion. Buddha remained unstirred. He became a metaphorical fulcrum and demonstrated the middle path, free from extreme reactions. He noticed his mind was very relaxed and he experienced unlimited compassion for all beings.

It is important to remember the balance point always elicits love and equanimity, while the extremes tend to provoke discord. When we practice meditation, we are choosing to enter the “in-between,” the bardo of potential liberation. This is a very good foundation for recognizing the unity of up and down, the illusion of separation. With practice we may recognize the absolute level of ‘nothing to balance’—and the fulcrum disappears.

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