If you visit Centertao.org often, you’ll soon notice I sound like a broken record at times. Sometimes I even feel a bit guilty that I repeatedly make the same essential points. Then I remember the necessity of constant watchful review. This is akin to attempting to maintain balance under wobbly physical circumstances. Surely, psycho-emotional circumstances are no less demanding, balance-wise. Whew! My guilt subsides as I remember the secret of animate balance…
The Secret of Animate Balance
Animate balance is never ‘over and done with’. On the contrary, it is an ongoing moment-to-moment awareness. Normal physical balance like standing happens at a subconscious level. Once you get past the toddler stage, normal physical balance is maintained via the subconscious ‘awareness’ of your inner ear and autonomic nervous system, leaving you to carry out your daily concerns with deliberate awareness. You’re free to be as ‘super-conscious’ as you can be or just daydream as you like. However, what happens when you attempt an unusual physical task like standing on your head or walking on a railroad track rail?
You can’t just find your balance and forget it, and go on to other tasks. You must review your balance status continually. The more novel the balance task is, the more essential maintaining active review becomes. Conversely, if we don’t venture too far out on the physical limb, we maintain balance automatically and naturally. Yep, most of us can walk and chew gum pretty well.
Maintaining psycho-emotional balance, even in normal daily life, is a whole other matter. Other animals don’t have this balance issue, mainly because they don’t have psychological issues, for the most part. They just feel what they feel, without an “I” second-guessing everything. Human animals seem to be the only exception. Chapter 71’s, Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease, hits the nail on the head. Most likely, our species has yet to evolve a ‘no brainer’ way to counterbalance the emotion-linked-mental triggers of this “disease”. Until that occurs, it is up to us to observe and continually review as impartially as we can, if we want to maintain some degree of psycho-emotional balance. To paraphrase 71, — Re-realizing I don’t know is even better.
A recent NPR interview, Therapy Helps Troubled Teens Rethink Crime, speaks to the failure to remember. This excerpt sums it up:
Most serious violent events are almost Seinfeldian in their origin — someone saying something stupid to someone else, and that escalating and basically turning into a tragedy because someone had a handgun in their waistband at the time. “The solution to the problem”, Ludwig, Pollack and their colleagues surmised,” might lie in getting kids to slow down and think about their actions”.
Ludwig says the course was based on a kind of training called Cognitive Behavior Therapy — a mainstay in modern psychotherapy. The technique aims to get people to think about the way they think, and to recognize unconscious patterns of thought that produce unhappy life outcomes.
Unfortunately, within a year after the program ended, its effect seemed to fade. Teens in the group who had gone through the training went back to having the same arrest rates as kids who hadn’t gone through the program. Ludwig says the researchers are still exploring how to help young people retain the powerful benefits of this sort of psychological training, as part of a range of efforts in Chicago to stem homicide.
The comment above, “researchers are still exploring how to help young people retain the powerful benefits…” is curious. The answer is obvious in my view: learn, remember, and review! The hitch here is that one must desire to review, and desire is the main distraction thwarting review. Therefore, as chapter 64 says, Taking this, the wise person desires non desire. Naturally enough, the ‘young and foolish’ haven’t acquired enough wisdom for that to sink in. These researchers found the only thing that actually works, yet it they “are still exploring how to help young people…”. They don’t appear to comprehend the issue deeply enough yet.
We are attending the ‘school of life’; the longer you stay in ‘school’, the better your chances of ‘getting it’. The researchers have shown that the kids need constant in-person contact with older and wiser people who ‘get it’. Alas, modern culture makes this especially difficult to bring about. All it can do is fund programs that end when funding dries up, as it always does. The last time constant role model contact was truly possible was back in the hunter-gather epoch where social divisions were minimal, and there were far fewer ways to get off track. Back then constant in-person contact with older and wiser people was unavoidable! All I can say is, how can we resolve problems fully when we have yet to come to terms with the ultimate cause? I see every ‘solution’ serving as only a stopgap measure at best. Oh well, that’s evolution for you. (See Exquisite Balance for other factors at work here.)