Balance and the Utility of Absolutes: Part II
It’s a bit more than obvious that that the examples of Part I do not resolve the issue of balance amidst polar conceptions. This is the part where the answer precipitates closer to pragmatic sense. Fortunately, the question itself- as I understand it- considers two things a given, or close enough: a) that balance is a desired and beneficial state and b) that relativism and the wishy-washy, arbitrary interpretation of basic memes is not where we want to go.
The aim of this essay is to affirm and show that we can cultivate natural states of balance. These are beneficial in the midst of solid conceptions that form two ends of a spectrum of options. In balance we are in an embodied psycho-spiritual state free of denial or repression. Balance allows an efficient distribution of forces so that we are free to be who we are, and unstrained in all our relations.
We are, therefore, most ourselves when balance is the status quo between body and mind (and/or any other quality and attribute of healthy human nature one wishes to pose in the works). To understand balance, however, it behooves us to note that polarization can be either creative or destructive, and that balance is meaningless when we are dealing with the latter.
We see proof of creative polarization in the form of a battery whose poles generate a current of electricity that is a valuable resource, and hence benefits lives as we see fit. Destructive polarization, on the other hand, is conflict: a clash of rivals and competing foes. This is not to be confused with themes such as sportsmanship. That involves ritualized competition meant to diffuse otherwise destructive social energy and channel it into constructive resolution. Therein we have the positive attributes of athletic competition or any situation involving pitting one’s self against an obstacle to be transcended or overcome.
If our poles are creative, therefore, it is in our best interest that they are absolute. In the case of electrical poles, science proves that they are a universally natural phenomenon we can technologically reproduce under specific conditions. You cannot really fake electricity in a convincing manner, unless you use electricity to do it.
This is not the case for the more abstract conceptions of understanding. Therein there is danger of deception. Destructive polarization sold as creative, and creative polarization used as a scapegoat for what is destructive. Both are common today, so that up is promoted as down, good as bad and the innocent are victimized for the acts of the guilty.
Given that the above is often due to deliberately conspired, criminal manipulation, navigating the sea of lies and misconception in our complicated information age is more than challenging. It is designed to wear us down unless we can engage in a state of balance.
Part I offered examples of natural body/mind balance, where body and mind were in complementary states. When mind was sharp, body was relaxed. When body was strained, mind was relaxed. In this form of balance one side charges with energy to feed the other side. Body and mind are not the polarizing concepts. Together they actually represent the wholeness of body/mind (keeping it simple and free of complicating concepts such as soul and spirit etc.). Body and mind in opposing states encouraged creative balance between them and that enhanced the wholeness of body/mind in its chosen pursuit, be it philosophical revelation or climbing a mountain.
Even though relaxation and strain are not objectively absolute, they are still very human states. I have no doubts when I am relaxed and no doubts when I am stressed. There is no arguing this because my subjective sense is definite. If someone were able to cast doubt in my sense of stress vs. relaxation and convince me I was relaxed when I was not, my psychological integrity could be in jeopardy. It is significant, therefore, that strain and relaxation represent a prominent dynamic continuum of our being whenever we deal with psychological and ideological polarization.
Instead of looking at the correctness or lack thereof of ideas and concepts, it is probably more constructive to focus on being sensitive to our stress/relaxation response when thrust in an arena of destructive polarization. It is irrelevant if the concepts are posed in absolute or relative terms (as my/your/their truth or as the truth).
If we consider mind and body as two expressions of a single entity, the key to getting the most out of polarized absolutes and sustaining creative balance is to practice maintaining said state when free of conflict. So many today we are stressed, scheduled, threatened, moralized, demoralized, terrorized and enraged in a manner two systematic for it to simply be happenstance. Instead of diving headstrong into the issues themselves like philosophers, mountain climbers, warriors or negotiators, we can consider that we are being set up for being victimized by chronic stress.
When mind and body via creative and complementary polarization support each other, balance is natural, and we build immunity to the engineered effects of chronic destructive polarization. When extremes co-exist in a single medium the result is either conflict or mutual dilution and co-operant weakening. In other words, if the mind cannot balance with body, and both are strained, then both can break. If both are relaxed perpetually, both can get dull and weak.
The idea is to indeed engage in the stream of polarized concepts, even if they appear destructive. How else will peace come if there is nothing to stand between conflicting factions, or destructive extremes? But if such a thing is to be done dynamically, with power and strength and wisdom, then we must sustain intrinsic balance first. The mind especially is challenged to find its balance within a balanced body/mind experience so that it can engage in heroic relationship with polarized absolutes in a peace-making, harmonizing, and even transforming function.
Concepts can will either be in conflict or in complementation. They dilute each other or one dominates. They mate and establish a synthesis for better or worse or remain mutually alienated or in conflict. When we reinforce creative poles, however, we strengthen the current between them, or the synthesis they generate. In doing so we may experience the dawning realization that the sought-for balance manifest through the experience of the ‘energy’ that flows between the poles, or it can be the very synthesis of their mating.
To conclude this installment, I want to note that the conception of absolutes can be problematic, and when oversimplified the poles can manifest destructively. The next installment of this essay will attempt to address the issue. I encourage the reader to think on this: Just because concepts, memes (truths) are polarized doesn’t mean that balance between them has any meaning, especially when our idea of balance is remaining safe and secure in one place, state or ideological stance.