Discovering one's own golden mean
K. VIJAYARAGHAVAN, ET, 17 Nov 2008
The term ‘golden mean’, according to Chambers dictionary means “moderation, a middle way between extremes.” An ancient Tamil proverb also notes that even the elixir of life (amrita) can become poison, if taken in excess.
Doubtless, life has to be marked by dynamism, extroversion and action but too much of these could also be damaging. Similarly, too much of ‘take it easy’ attitude or even reflection and introspection could lead to stagnation, with life drifting away without any tangible accomplishment.
The ceaseless and excessive dynamism of the warriors of Ulysses (Odysseus) and also their subsequent metamorphosis to lethargy and introversion, as portrayed by Tennyson, would suggest that there should be a golden mean between these extremes.
The ‘middle path’ concept, centred on finding the right ‘golden mean’, for sustained excellence, as applicable to each aspirant, would eventually depend on individual nature and needs. However, certain broad, practical and time-tested concepts in evolving this could serve as guidelines.
Those habituated to a busy bee life in search of fruits — they themselves may not be sure of and pushing themselves to near physical and psychological burn out — would do well to remember that all their activities would become counterproductive unless tempered with moments of needed reflection, solitude, relaxation and meditation.
Similarly the dreamer and one involving himself continually with substantial reflection, analysis and meditative exercises would also be benefited through forays into activities calling for dynamism and physical exercises marked by zest and exhilaration. In fact, too much time spent on such acts of introversion could also become counterproductive, leading to depression and lack of spontaneity, joy, and gaiety.
Research on depressed and schizophrenic patients has revealed that ‘work therapy’ and involvement with dynamic activities often work where passive counselling, analysis and even medication could fail. Indeed, work is worship. The business of life, if it were to be fulfilling, is to get on with it with briskness and natural ease, not cluttered by perceived ideas of excessive introspection, etc.
This natural approach could often prove to be the right sadhana for inner purification. Doubtless, the crux of all true accomplishment lies in discovering for oneself his own workable ‘golden mean’ and to build his dreams on this stable foundation!