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Choosing the Higher Middle Way


Occasionally, we find ourselves torn between feelings of pleasure and pain; excitement and depression; confidence and fear or love and hate. Whenever we become emotionally polarized, we are prisoners trapped in the gravitational pull of past patterns. We find ourselves stuck. It feels as though we are moving inexorably back and forth – following a course reminiscent of the arc described by a swinging pendulum. What we forget is that the pendulum hangs from a fixed point – a higher place of poise and singular awareness. Finding this point of integrated stillness in the clear air above the turbulent waters of the emotional plane is one of the tests of Libra.

Polarization on the plane of the mind is also a challenge. When faced with tough choices our human tendency is to oscillate and vacillate – unable to make a decision as to which path to take. Many sages down the ages have offered their advice on this subject. Yogi Berra, the legendary wit and member of the New York Yankees baseball team who died recently, advocated, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” However, yogis of a different ilk, such as the Buddha, have given more helpful and pragmatic suggestions. The Buddhist tradition speaks of treading the Noble Eight-fold Path and the Middle Way as the preferred path of ascent towards the peak of wisdom and enlightenment.

There is a simple and effective exercise for experiencing and potentially helping resolve the natural tension between the two poles. This may be an experiment you wish to try in your living room or out in nature. If so, here is how. Place three markers about 20 feet apart to form a triangle. Name the two poles on the baseline by acknowledging the particular pairs of opposites with which you are currently wrestling. Stand at the mid-point on the baseline and focus yourself fully in the present. Move slowly to your left and stand on that far pole. Take time for its energy to fill you. Make your way back along the baseline to the other pole and experience the opposite energy infusing your total psyche. Returning to the mid-point, sense the competing energies.

Now walk slowly and deliberately up towards the apex of the triangle. As you do so, bring with you the two energies. With each step sense the deeper and more refined aspects of each pole emerging. Feel them slowly converging until they merge at the Apex. Stand at this point of synthesis and embrace and absorb the former duality that has now resolved itself into an all-inclusive singularity. Register this awareness in your bones and carry this gift of resolution into all of the day’s encounters.

As we become more practiced in walking the Higher Way and have cultivated the required qualities of decisiveness and non-attachment, we begin to evince and emulate the soul motto of Libra that declares, “I choose the way which leads between the two great lines of force.”


(image credit of Foucault’s Pendulum taken at the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan, Italy, courtesy of Ben Ostrowsky / Flickr CC 2.0.)

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