by Navid Zaidi
Developing a flexible approach to living is instrumental in helping us cope with everyday problems. ‘Balance’ becomes a key element of a happy life.
A balanced and skilful approach to life, taking care to avoid extremes, is an important factor in our existence, explains the Dalai Lama in his book The Art of Happiness. It is important in all aspects of life. Too much or too little of anything can have destructive effects.
This gentle approach applies to healthy mental and emotional growth, as well. For example, says the Dalai Lama, if we find ourselves arrogant then the antidote is to think about our own limitations to bring us more down to earth. On the other hand if we find ourselves helpless, discouraged and depressed, then thinking about our achievements and positive qualities can uplift our spirit.
In other words, this skilful balanced approach is like a voltage stabilizer. It prevents irregular power surges to give you a stable and constant source of power.
This also applies to our spiritual growth. Even in observing religious practices we should not be extreme.
The Quran says: ‘We have willed you to be a community of the middle way.‘ (2:143)
The Dalai Lama goes on to explain that our tendency to go to extremes is often fueled by an underlying feeling of discontentment. Another factor that leads to extreme thinking is narrow-mindedness.
Contact dispels narrow-mindedness. When we come in contact with different traditions and learn about them, we come closer to each other, realizing that among humanity there are so many different mental dispositions. Through closer contact with other traditions we can realize the positive things about them, and that can give rise to a comfortable feeling of fellowship.
Essay by Navid Zaidi; photo by Ali Hammad