The Art of Balance
From Buddha to Aristotle many have spoken about the importance of balance.
This balance is the one which man acquires when he moves on the middle path.
When he avoids extremes and follows the golden mean. Then for example, he is
not a coward, nor is he rash -he is courageous. Similarly between pride and
diffidence he chooses modesty, between miserliness and extravagance, liberality,
between moroseness and buffoonery, good humor, between belligerence and
flattery, friendship and so on.
One who attains to a balanced walk of this kind finds that when he is so walking,
happiness walks alongside him. It eludes him only when this equilibrium is
upset and that too for only as long as he can’t find his center again. When he is
balanced like this he is in tune with the Tao of the Universe and available to his
In a nutshell extreme behaviours cause distress in you and when you come to the
golden mean you come to your restful self.
These thinkers have spoken of balance and their concern is the individual
Confucius takes the understanding of balance much further. He takes it to the
He says for example that the younger brother should respect the elder brother
and the elder brother should be gentle with the younger brother. So he balances
the relationship through this advice. By balancing it thus he ensures that the
burden of carrying the relationship is equitably distributed. Similarly for
example he says that the wife should be obedient to the husband and the
husband should be righteous (faithful). (Note how again he has hit the nail on
the head by asking for man to be faithful as he understands that woman wants
security most and if her husband is faithful her world is secure). By thus
presenting counterbalancing expectations in pairs, Confucius takes the concept of
balance from the individual realm to the social sphere. He spread its reach and
tries to achieve social harmony through it.
The beauty is he doesn’t stop here. Post giving his prescription he says I cannot
respect my elder brother as much as I want my younger brother to respect me. I cannot
respect my senior as much as I want my junior to respect me. He is now talking about
the practical difficulty of following the way of the mean. He is confessing that he
expects more from others than he is prepared to give himself. There is a gap in
his expectations and his performance.
And then he says that A gentleman asks of others no more than of himself so long as
they correct their mistakes. So he will be patient. Just as he cannot always maintain
this balanced walk he will understand if others also stumble. As long as they
come back on track he will overlook their transgressions and excuse them as he
has excused himself.
It is because of this candor, this practicality, this tolerance that Confucius
continues to inspire nations.
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