Wednesday, June 16, 9948

Balancing Mind and Spirit

We know that if we overuse our minds by working too much or chasing and worrying about things like money and social status, we can become miserable. But that doesn’t mean that we should run to the opposite end of the spectrum. If we stop thinking, working, and pursuing needs, and spend the rest of our lives just floating along, looking at everything with wonder, meditating, playing bongos, etc, then we will be unable to obtain housing, medicine, food, or healthcare. We might avoid the stress of fretting about money and social status, but we will be cold, hungry, and possibly alone.

The idea of putting aside our thinking and living a care-free life sounds nice, but it is not very practical. Even monks who spend their lives meditating obtain clothing and food via some form of work, whether it’s teaching or manual labor. They can’t simply sit alone in the wilderness for years at a time.

The mind is a necessary tool for functioning in this world, so we need to use it sometimes. Thinking helps with all our worldly chores such as working, driving, shopping, mowing the lawn, etc. But at the same time we need to know when to not think. We need to relax at times, and to do this the mind needs to relinquish control to the spirit, for spirit is what we ultimately are. The mind is for doing; the spirit is for being. You don’t want your mind spinning its gears when you’re lying on a beach in Jamaica.

Let us not demonize things that we sometimes torture ourselves with. Money, possessions, and social status are not bad; it is the frantic, desperate pursuit of more than we need that causes suffering. This is why the art of balance is so important: well-being is maximized by pursuing what we need but not overdoing it.