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Balance: Are you giving, or taking, too much?

The equinox, when day (very nearly) equals night, seems a good time to ponder the notion of 'balance'.

Firstly, what strikes me from simple observation of the world around us is that balance is not a dull, static, flavourless state, but a dynamic, flowing, colourful process of give and take. It is like a good risotto, which is a harmony of ingredients, each with its own flavour, which, working together, produce a tasty, healthy meal.

Among the questions which, I think, we should ask ourselves from time to time - and the spring and autumn equinoxes seem naturally apt times to do so - are: Am I taking more than I need? And: Am I giving more than I can afford (not just in a financial sense, but in terms of time, energy, emotions, thought, etc)?

Take, take, take is, of course, selfish, but give, give, give can be as self-centred if done for the wrong reasons. For example, do we give out of love and caring for another person, wanting and expecting no reward? Or do we do so to ease our guilt so we can feel better about ourselves? Or to bolster our ego so we can look like the wonderful generous person we wish to be seen as, and so feel good about ourselves? Do we, for example, self-identify as 'the giver', whose feeling of self-worth derives entirely from giving, and who relies on others' grateful acceptance of our gifts for our own happiness?

Of course, there is nothing wrong with feeling good about giving, but it is important not to cling to that feeling or to give again and again simply in order to feel that way again. That is the path of the addictive giver. And behind such an addiction can often be a need to control, which possibly comes from low self-esteem. As I said earlier, can you give without reward? Or do you give in order to control the fate or feelings of another, perhaps to make them feel indebted to you? Do we give only when it suits us, or only what we think the other person needs rather than what they actually want/need? Sometimes giving, if done selfishly or carelessly or with the wrong motivation, can do more harm than good.

It is as important to ask ourselves about how much we give, and why, as it is to ask about how much we take, and why - and find the right balance, according to the time, skills and material, physical, mental and emotional resources we have available.

If we give more than we can afford, we can end up creating more unhappiness in the world, starting with our own. And if we are unhappy, it is likely that our unhappiness will spill over into the world, and on to the people around us. Give too much and everyone loses.

So, at times like the spring and autumn equinoxes, it is good to consider how we give and take, and how we can ensure that our actions respect the dynamic balance that is essential for us all to live fulfilling and harmonious lives, inside and out.

As the saying goes: we have two hands - one to give and one to receive.

Remember, to live we must breathe in as well as breathe out... accept as well as give...


  1. I found my judgement improved once I had completely rejected the "reward system" promoted by the abrahamic frameworks. If you negate these sort incentives, you tend to approach it much more holistically.

  2. Thanks, corvusrouge. Just to make sure I have understood you, what do you mean when you say the Abrahamic reward system?

  3. The concepts that provide frameworks for religious activities that promote the idea that following them will lead to a "reward" (read heaven, God's right hand "man" etc) or punishment (read hell, purgatory etc). Those sort of frameworks were devised in the early mediaeval as a way of controlling peoples behaviours, carrot and stick probably an apt description. I don't practice my religion for personal gain, and surprisingly (or maybe not) it seems to me the people administering these type of reward religions never seem to be materially disadvantaged.

  4. Yes, it feels more authentic to engage in a spiritual practice out of love and respect for life (or for an individual expression of life-force) than to do so in the hope of reward. If I were a god I would far sooner my believers came to me out of love than fear or expectation.


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