Do you know what is better than charity and fasting and prayer?

It is keeping peace and good relations between people,

as quarrels and bad feelings destroy mankind.

- Prophet Mohammed


Day 25

"Too much of everything is just enough."
Those words have rang true with me since I can remember. I'm prone to extremes. I don't want two beers, I want twenty-two. I'm not going to buy one pack of smokes for the trip, I'm going to buy three so I won't run out.   I don't want to split that pizza, I want the whole thing. I don't want to call in sick today, I want to quit. 

I love going all-out (or in). I'm an all or nothing guy and that is a problem. It's been a problem for me in many ways and I'm starting to wonder if Buddhism can correct it. It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that my culture frames how I interpret my religious life. I can't separate myself from America's overt rejection of moderation. It's a best or worst kind of mentality and it has rooted itself deeply within my psyche.

So, rather than trying my hardest to live a life of moderation, I'm going to focus my energy on living within my own regenerative capacity. That includes health, economics and just about every other facets of life. Focusing on the petty details is a waste of time. There's a story that I'm going to have to paraphrase because I can't find the exact wording in my books.
A man is shot with a poison arrow. He asks his nearby teacher who had shot him. He asks which direction the arrow came from. He's curious as to what kind of poison it was and from which animal the feathers had been plucked from. He obsesses over these details rather than pulling the arrow out and ultimately, he dies from the wound. He never knew the answers to his questions and died a bitter, angry man. 
Rather than obsessing over questions like "Am I being too extreme?" or "Is this moderate enough?", I need to be more aware of my own limits. Having a health scare is a good way to recognize the boundaries of your body, but it shouldn't be the way. I don't want to go bankrupt before understand how much is too much. Just like with the environment, studying the regenerative capacity of life would serve us much better than reacting only when the limits have been pushed. 

Moderation is just a word. I have within myself the knowledge and wisdom to protect myself from the extremes of desire. 

No comments:

Post a Comment