Nov 29, 2006

Respect and balance

That's what it says on my Dove shampoo bottle: Respect and balance.

Respect - an action. I admit I don't quite get "respect", what it means exactly, how to conjur it up automatically in myself. Generosity or gratitude seems easier. What I have observed about respect, though, is that it seems more universal than love because every living being recognizes it without fail. I have seen both animals and people with mental handicaps pull away when they were disrespected; they knew right away what was happening and didn't tolerate it. So what does that tell me about respect? That it's about not putting anyone else down, it's about not forcing your will or way onto someone else. It's all those good things: Listening well, being patient, having the attitude "live and let live", understanding that no-one else is exactly like you and still meeting the other as an equal. Respect is about acknowledging the rights of other living creatures to breathe the same air as you.

Balance - a quality. Back when I was fiddling around with various vegetarian diets I also tried macrobiotics. Macrobiotics defined foods as neutral, yang or yin - yang and yin being opposites. The idea was to eat as many neutral foods as possible, staying in the middle as it were, avoiding the two ends opposite of each other, in order to create balance. Going from one extreme to another is not balance; it is see-sawing (or even conflict). Recently I came across a comment that no guru goes to extremes but tends be a "middle-of-the-roader". To go to extremes means to lose balance. Think about how over the top some people are in their reactions (politics is a good place to look for examples). Those who see things as extremes (good or bad) are also the most easily upset; they aren't able to stay in the middle where it is easiest to achieve balance. It also takes a lot of energy to live on the edge, even in cooking, so the happy medium is the goal.

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