Buddhism and the Balancing Act of Excellence…

Violence solves nothing. It only creates more violence. We all know it, yet still we do it, reveling in our passions and bathing all awash in our emotions unapologetic, for this is what we are taught from day one, in the wild wild west, to be passionate about what we do, and anything less is ‘middling…’

Yet middling is part and parcel of Buddhism and its Middle Path, the avoidance of excess and its extremes, in favor of the boredom of ‘middle-ness.’ From this viewpoint happiness is as often as not the avoidance of sadness, and bliss might very well be suspect for its dalliance with extreme emotion…

Does this attitude build great cities? Does this attitude conquer continents, and send rockets to the moon? No it probably doesn’t, and we are probably better off because of it. Because neither does it commit genocides, enslave peoples, or cause global warming, and it can produce great art…

Has your life really improved with the invention of Roombas to Hoover your floors? Do you really need four hundred channels of mediocre programming on the idiot box to satisfy your palate? And before you point out to me that I seem to be championing mediocrity as the Middle Way between lack and excess, I wish to point out that excellence is not a threat to anyone’s existence in the same way that luxury and self-starvation are, which is the original inspiration to the Buddha’s awakening…

The Middle Path itself is nothing if not excellent. Do you think that it is easy finding that meandering sweet spot between extremes? It’s not. It’s an exquisite, but not excruciating, balancing act. And balance is crucial to the equation. Is it even possible for an equation to not be balanced? Of course not…

Yet our lives in the 21st century are far from being balanced. We worship the gods of technological salvation, but we are never saved. We are only further addicted to our own existential cravings. Now I love science, and technology, i.e. applied science, but I don’t really need a self-driving car. I need a city that doesn’t’ require automobiles…

Internet is sublime, and Virtual Reality is transcendent, but what else do we need? Interstellar exploration is wonderful, but you don’t need rockets for that, just better telescopes. Our cities are sh*t-stained pits and our lives wallow in the mire, accordingly. Nature, and dharma, can, and should be, a refuge, on a good day. Cities and technology? Meh, not so much…