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These past few days and weeks have seen some momentous events in the country. I don’t need to enumerate them for you. But many are saying that we have reached a pivot point, an inflection point, in the country’s history where social justice – especially racial justice – is concerned. My response to that is, “I hope you are correct, but we shall see.” Sadly, my own personal experience does not permit me to say or feel otherwise.
What I can say is that it is well for all of us to maintain a sense of balance about what we see and how we live in these days. Even though there is cause for hope, we should also be prepared for things to move in a direction different from what we’re hoping for. Yes, we got a new and more progressive president; but we also got stricter voting restrictions in many states. Yes, a murderer got convicted in a court of law, but another young person got killed the same day. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Here’s a verse from the Tao Te Ching that may put us at our ease somewhat. This is Verse 2, about how things are in the realm of Reality:
Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.
Therefore having and not having arise together.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short contrast each other;
High and low rest upon each other;
Voice and sound harmonize each other;
Front and back follow one another.
Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing, teaching no-talking.
The ten thousand things rise and fall without cease,
Creating, yet not possessing,
Working, yet not taking credit.
Work is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.
There’s a lot of duality in this verse, I know, and we’re always talking in terms of non-duality in our practice and our outlook. Duality may be a delusion, but it looks real to us. But we can take the middle way between all these seeming opposites. The opposites balance out in the moment, and in the end.
So, whatever posture we adopt, whether it be one of activism or teaching or writing or sitting or praying or whatever, clarity, equanimity, and peace will prevail when we can keep this balance in being as our ground, our reality. Each of us must do what we are bidden or called to do, in our own way, while we keep ourselves right in each moment we are. All things arise together in the oneness of the Universe.