Monday, August 27, 2012

Don't confuse symmetry with balance. 
~ Tom Robbins

What is good, what is right, what is wholesome?  What is awakening, moral wisdom or sanity?   

Despite obvious epistemological divergences in how they understand “mind”, there is significant convergence between the moral, philosophical and psychological points of view.  

Moralists describe goodness, or moral conscience, as a sense of responsibility that motivates compassionate action.   Philosophers and mystics describe awakening as a quickening of awareness that reveals the nature of experience more clearly.  Psychologists describe mental health in terms of our adaptability, the ability to adapt to our lives and the people in it.   

Responsibility, awareness, adaptability.  These are qualities that characterize a sound person, whether from the point of view of morality, psychology or religion.  

What do these have in common?  They are all interactive and dynamic responses to our lives and other living beings, orienting us to them in a way that embraces the human experience more completely.  They enable more balance between us and the world, not as the homeostatic equilibrium of an autistic monad but as the supple (and subtle) response of a person in sync with an ever-changing universe.  

Integrity (not flawlessness) is the rule, and attunement (not perfection) is the goal.  This is basic goodness.  This is basic sanity: to embrace our world just as it is, without excluding any of its discomfiting ambiguities or contradictions; so dilemmas can be resolved without dissolving their complexities; so suffering can dissipate into a wider embrace of experience that includes both joy and sorrow; so ignorance and error, while not always overcome, can be transmuted into reflective and responsible self-awareness.

Evermore in the world is this marvelous balance of beauty and disgust, magnificence and rats.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson