In this four part series Amy, a contributor, explores what it means to have balance in our lives.
Balancing the Material and the Spiritual
How can we find balance in the chaos that surrounds us?
As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the balance—this is the balance—this is the balance.
~‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v. 4, p. 217)
Not a blind faith, but a faith which is born out of conscious knowledge. Which implies that we must investigate for ourselves.
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
~Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642)
The Sacred Scriptures of the major religions of the world speak of a day when peace will reign on earth. Which in itself is rather remarkable considering the differences in their doctrines about how we will get there. To me this speaks to God’s faith in us. That one day we will figure it out. But to get there we must understand our true nature.
The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man.”
~Euripides (484 BC – 406 BC)
All of life is a balancing act. It’s what we are all striving for, to find that perfect balance. And we are a unique species. We exist with one foot in the physical world and one in the spiritual world. Awareness of this fact makes it much easier to grow and develop. It’s easy to believe that we are physical beings that occasionally have spiritual experiences, but like Teilhard de Chardin, I believe the opposite is true.
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.
~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881 – 1955)
To help illustrate this point, I am reminded of a favorite story about a young couple who had a toddler and a newborn. The toddler asked her parents if she could go see the baby by herself. Although it made the parents nervous, having a baby monitor relieved their concerns and consequently they gave permission. What they heard brought tears to their eyes. The toddler said to the newborn, “Tell me about God, I’m forgetting”. You see, the physical world has a way of making us forget our true nature, and this often begins at an early age.
Therefore, finding balance is finding faith: faith in humanity, inspired by various religious traditions, each pointing towards greater peace on earth. The very act of increasing our awareness of the need for equal material and spiritual progress further solidifies the reality that the establishment of peace on earth is not out of reach.
It is indeed a good and praiseworthy thing to progress materially, but in so doing, let us not neglect the more important spiritual progress, and close our eyes to the Divine light shining in our midst.
Work In Progress
Finally, we have to remember that there are many aspects of spiritual progress that are important. However, in addition to prayer (an act where we essentially ask God for assistance) and meditation (in which we quiet our mind and give God the opportunity to provide answers) we must seek humility and come to terms with the fact that we don’t have it all figured out. In the words of Dan Gilbert, “Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.” We must always be open to new information and acknowledge that we have a basic understanding of our universe. And that what we accept as truth today, may very well be false tomorrow.
In part 2 of this blog series I will explore independent investigation of truth, its role in contributing to an ever-advancing civilization, and how this principle assists us finding a balance.