Friday, August 05, 2011

The Middle Path

Life is tough. There’s a lot of responsibilities, challenges, and aggravations. Most days I cope with all of this fairly well. I believe the secret to handling life’s challenges with grace is being centered within oneself. Most of the time I am able to do this because I strive to have a contemplative attitude. What does this mean? For me it means walking what some call the middle path. Many people think there are only two approaches to life’s challenges. You can fight them or you can run away from them. When you walk the middle path you do neither. People who walk the middle path strive to be awake, aware, and present to what is going on. They flow with life and strive to respond to life rather than react to it. They strive to be one with their surroundings. In my life I strive to be the eye of the hurricane often going on around me. In many ways the middle path is also the slow lane. Many people are driven and always running through life. Not only do they sometimes knock other people down, they miss a lot of life as they dart in and out of life’s traffic. The middle path is the way of contemplation. Contemplatives notice things. They not only see the flowers, they stop and smell them. The Dalai Lama is a contemplative leader although he’s one of the busiest people on the world stage. In the midst of leading India’s fight for independence from the British, Gandhi spent one day a week in silence and seclusion. We all need to breathe. We all need to slow down. We all need to smell the flowers, play with our children and grandchildren, notice sunrises, feel cool breezes, taste our food, and be centered within ourselves by noticing and paying attention to life. The middle path, the contemplative way, is the way of Zen. Zen is being where you are and doing what you are doing. Simply put, it’s presence.

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