Our problems arise out of our living in extremes. Like the weather up North. It is too cold or too hot. As human beings, we too can be very volatile. This results in conflicts, unpleasantness and stress. We are prone to impulsive fits of anger, sorrow, rage and depression. We are either too nice to people and get used or too suspicious and mess up human relations. We are too ambitious and ruthless or too laid back and useless. What is the secret then of getting out of the rut of extremes?
In the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna has a perfect formula for these ups and downs that we experience in our emotions and actions. Explaining the benefits of Dhyana yoga (a meditative attitude to life), and the practices one has to follow to make it meaningful, Krishna, in verse 17, tells Arjuna
Yuktahara viharasya yuktacestasya karmasu
Yuktasvapnavabodhasay yogo bhavati dukhaha
For him who is moderate in food and recreation, moderate in exertion in all actions, moderate in sleep and wakefulness, yoga destroys all pain and suffering
The key words here are moderation. Yoga, as is normally understood, is not about physical postures. It is about balance. The Lord is recommending balance as the best way to have a peaceful life rid of strong likes and dislikes. In our enthusiasm or greed, we tend to overdo eating, playing, working, even sleeping and waking. All these can cause disturbance in our state of mind. This in turn has negative ripples in our family and spills over into the community and ultimately the world we live in.
Like the tight rope walker, we need to learn to balance our act. With our attention fixed on our goal, we have to move towards it in a meditative way by being mindful of going into extremes. Students feel that they have to burn the midnight oil to score grades and go into deep depression when they fail. By balancing their schedule which includes study, recreation, exercise, sleep and food, they are more likely to reach their goal rather than push themselves into round-the clock studies.
Every thing happens in its own season and we need to learn to be patient. Our constant greed for acquiring material luxuries, fame and name, drives us to overreacting to situations and stirring conflicts. Let us follow the middle path that Buddha recommends. Observe the moderation that Krishna advises and see the difference. We live in a crowded world with more hands grabbing than giving. One way to stop this is to be moderate in our behaviour, speech and action.