Friday, November 27, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing...

The Thanksgiving feast is now over and I'm looking forward to leftovers. Thanksgiving and Christmas have become times for overindulging one's appetites for food and drink. In the past, I've eaten too much delicious Thanksgiving food. This year, I tried my best to eat enough to be comfortably full and had modest success.

When the food is so good, it's hard to stop enjoying it. My tendency is to keep eating until I'm stuffed like a tick. However, too much of a good thing isn't good for body or soul.

Just as it's possible to overindulge one's bodily appetites, it's possible to overindulge one's soul. Take whatever feeds your soul and imagine doing that activity over and over. At first, it may be enjoyable. But, eventually, even the soul can suffer from overindulgence.

In Buddhism there is the concept of "the middle way," a spiritual path between extremes of excess and deficiency. In Confucianism, there is the "doctrine of the golden mean," which emphasizes balance and harmony in one's life.

Just as a balanced diet is good for the body, a balanced inner life nourishes the soul. Finding the right balance between being and doing, between activity and inactivity is one of the important challenges of a spiritual journey. Avoiding the extremes is a good beginning.

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