Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekly Pondering

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.
- Verse 9 of Tao Te Ching

This entire verse speaks to the majority of things which make me unhappy on a daily basis. I recently had a long talk with my mom about cultivating the ability to step away from my work. For me, school work is constantly on my mind, I set myself a schedule, which is good, but then if I don't get things done in the time I had set aside, I am super hard on myself and will be distracted until I am able to catch up.

Caring about people's approval has always been a problem for me, which takes it's form in social anxiety. I have spent much of my adult life battling the fact that I actually get physically ill if faced with unpleasant social situations. Interesting, though, that I never saw this as a part of my spiritual journey. Clearly, in this verse, Lao Tzu has pin pointed how much social anxiety made me a prisoner, and I am so happy to be casting of those shackles more and more each day.

Above all, this verse speaks of moderation to me. Moderation is a matter I feel I need to introduce into every aspect of my life. Diet, clutter, TV, FB, and various unproductive leisure activities are areas where I tend to either be too lenient or to strict. Each of these things has value, from nutrition to destressing, but can also be damaging if allowed to go unchecked. Moderation is the key not depriving, but not overindulging either.

Obviously, this is all easier said than done. But I am perfectly aware that I'm just a work in progress. :D


  1. We are all works in progress, and I agree that moderation in all things is the key to happiness. Having enough money in our lives is important, but greed isn't. Having friends in our lives is essential to our happiness, but over-reliance on their approval isn't. Having a job we enjoy is important in our lives, but work addiction isn't. And the list goes on.

  2. This post describes me as well--being hard on oneself, social anxiety, and of course the tendency toward being too lenient or too strict. It seems I am often shifting from one end of the spectrum to the other, and practicing moderation is a difficult, but worthwhile, discipline.

    Finding balance is elusive--the scales tip first one way and then another, but I find the more mindfulness I bring to my daily life, and the more I focus on finding balance, the less far the scales tip on way or the other--closer to balance than imbalance. I know I've stopped focusing on it when I go to extremes--that's my reminder to pay attention. I hope as I continue on the path that I will need fewer reminders!

  3. We are all works in progress. I hope to be to the day I die.