Monday, January 15, 2007

Life in the Balance

I've read a lot on the internet about the young woman who died of alleged water intoxication after participating in a water drinking contest sponsored by a Sacramento radio station. While the whole affair is certainly a tragedy, I think what has been missing from much of the discussion is the concept of balance.

Water is essential to life and the lack of it in humans means certain death of the body. Consequently, since it is an essential element, in some ways it seems counterintuitive to believe that one could get too much of a good thing. The problem here is that, regardless of something's intrinsic value, the key to a healthy life is balance.

Too much of anything is bad. It tips the delicate balance that we call life. Anytime you possess too much of one thing, other important elements are decreased and life becomes out of whack.

Some people believe a person can never have too much money, yet the super rich find no more security in their wealth than the average person. In fact, as they strive for more and more, other important facets of their life suffers.

The same can be said of pleasure. If our lives are filled with too much pleasure, we lose the ability to empathize with others. More importantly, when pleasure is not balanced with pain, pleasure starts to lose its intoxicating effect.

I dare say a person can receive too much love. Like with pleasure, it must be balanced with hate. Too much love can be suffocating and it tends to desensitize us to the workings of the world.

As both Taoism and dialectics teach us, the life of opposites is what provides a framework of meaning in our lives. Without comprehending both sides of any concept or sensation, we genuinely can't understand either. It is the balance of opposites that sustains us and leads to enlightenment.


  1. it's been here on the news too. Apparently it has something to do with the amount of sodium in your blood. Anyway, yes, too much of something is always unhealthy, whether it's something physical or emotional. Modesty has always been the key to understanding and accepting, maybe it's time we learn to reappreciate this...

  2. Is it possible to focus too much on balance?

    Can one place too much interpretation of life by Taoism?

    While some religions claim that can exist an ultimate life of harmany, peace, and love it sounds like you are claiming that Taoism and dialectics can only have meaning if their is a polarization in the world. I would agree with that.

    I don't believe quite like you describe because it is subjective, but in general it's always beneficial to consider all alternatives.

    For example, "too much" - how is that defined? It is relative to some assigned metric.

  3. "Can one place too much interpretation of life by Taoism?"

    Well, not really, since Tao includes all of life and life is part of Tao.

    Tao isn't an interpretation of life. It just is. It's not a religion, either.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.