“The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation, rather than upon mere survival.” – Aristotle
The key to all of life’s frequent and pressing questions is balance. Multi-faceted questions are typically asked in terms of which side of the spectrum does an individual stand. For example, should one act or not, should one live for the present moment or live for the future or past, and should one hang on or let go of a dream, of an idea, or pursuit. However, framing the question as to illicit a “this or that” response leaves much unexamined. A spectrum which is derived from two polar opposite poles of extremism also has many ticks in the middle to demonstrate movement and degree on the spectrum. In order to conquer the middle portion of the spectrum wisdom is required, which is partly derived from trial-and-error with life’s experiences. Also, in order to obtain understanding of the spectrum’s middle section and function one must build and define one’s own neutral point. An individual’s neutral point is self derived and understood as obtained through learned experiences and applied daily towards carving and shaping one’s inner essence of personhood.
Balance enables an individual to master both poles of the spectrum by evading carrying the weight of one pole and tipping the distribution of work, energy, and focus to one side. Moreover, balance occurs in the middle of the spectrum where one’s neutral point resides as well, and with standing in the middle in alignment with one’s neutral point an individual is more equipped toward seeing the entirety of the spectrum’s range. Therefore, through better positioning on the spectrum an individual has improved capacity of seeing the manifestations of each tick that leads towards one side of the spectrum, which enables greater clarity in responding to the bigger questions. Whereas the farther out an individual is positioned on one side of the spectrum then the more tunnel-vision and obstruction to an individual’s clear view occurs. In other words, the farther out an individual is positioned on the spectrum then the less access and visibility the individual has of the polar opposite side and all of the manifestations of the ticks between both points, which causes the individual to sink further onto one side and to perpetuate the same behavior causing a deeper vicious cycle of increased internal tensions, exhaustion, and stress.
In terms of achieving and living a good life, balance is key in order to adopt the average mean between two extremes of a given element. The aim, according to Aristotle, Buddhism’s Middle Path, and several other sources, is to arrive to a “just right” blend or mixture between having too little and too much of an entity. In Aristotle’s view he contemplated moral and ethical virtue as his spectrum and as his method to arriving at pure happiness, though his school of thought claimed that the final revelation of one’s overall attainment of happiness is only possible on one’s deathbed, where one’s entire life’s trajectory is visible and therefore capable of grading. In regards to fear, positioning on the too little side of the spectrum represents rashness, positioning under the middle just right part represents courage, and positioning on the too much side represents cowardice. The same notion applies to pleasure. On the too little side of the spectrum pleasure represents insensitivity, at the just right middle part pleasure represents temperance or self-control, and on the too much side of the spectrum pleasure represents self-indulgence. In contrast with Buddhism, the spectrum is an illustration of the Middle Path that demonstrates a method of living between extreme asceticism and hedonistic pleasure seeking, which again follows the too little and too much dynamic.
Balance has served ancient civilizations in achieving mental freedom, and it is capable of obtaining a similar result with modern civilization. Balance is an equal-opportunity skill set and perspective that aides the mind in reaching thoroughly examined conclusions on the most frequent and pressing ideas and questions. Too much or too little of any entity seems inherently flawed; the right mix makes for a more convincing argument. Furthermore, arriving at the right mix requires awareness of self and others as one acquires more experience with time.