The Path to Harmony
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
By Reverend Denise Tracy
Presented by Omni-University
I grew up thinking that I was the center of the universe. If we were going on a picnic and it rained, I felt I must have done something wrong. If my parents had a fight, somehow it was my fault and it was my job to make it better. If I was good, did everything the best I knew how, the world would cooperate. All would be well! I feel silly admitting this, but I lived this way, distressed and feeling responsible whenever things went wrong, for far, far too long. It was not until I was 30 that I learned something that released completely my sense of vigilant self centeredness. I was at a Tai Chi workshop. Al Huang, "Pied Piper" of both Taoism and the Human potential movement, explained the meaning of the Yin Yang symbol. Everything is what it is and also its opposite. There is a larger holistic pattern. Look at a tree. Yes, it is the branches and leaves and trunk. The tree is also the space around it. Both the space and the branches make up the whole image. We can see that this is true of physical things….it is also true of feelings. Take happiness. In order to really understand happiness, you must have experienced unhappiness. Knowing both increases understanding of either. The Taoists turn this into a larger type of harmony in the symbol of the yin and yang. When you are fully most happy, your best day, ever…there appears a bit of unhappiness until unhappiness grows, until you are unhappy, then a bit of happiness appears and grows…the cycle is continuous. In some way the understanding of the cycles of life, saying they are natural and to be expected, means we can step back and be less panicked in the face of the constant change. We can be more relaxed because change is expected and is a natural part of being.
Take anything: feelings, wellness, weather, etc., and apply this symbol and what happens is that a larger pattern, a more inclusive harmony occurs. In this way there is a cycle of push and pull, anger and joy, love and hate, calmness and anxiety, grief and joy….when seen this way a natural pattern emerges. Taoism and its sense of embracing both sides of everything, allows us above, below- to step back and understand and accept the cycles of life. Nothing is forever…not the good, not the bad…this too, will pass. During this time of pandemic, I have found this perspective both a relief and helpful. We all wish for lives that are harmonious. Very few people look for lives of rancor and discomfort. Most of us are looking for lives of purpose and meaning. The people that we meet and the experiences that we have, help us to clarify our identities and create a larger sense of being. On the playground, bullies may try to rob us of beauty, in rehearsal halls, cranky people may have power over us. If we can step back and see the larger patterns, a harmony emerges that allows us to relax into the ebb and flow of human being and human living. There is no recipe book. There is living and making a life of meaning.
We are in the middle of some pretty ugly stuff right now. A pandemic. A Political reality that seems to sink lower every day. Our lives have been changed. In his poem, "The Discordants", Conrad Aiken says, “Music I heard with you was more than music. Bread I broke with you was more than bread”. So may it be with us. May any discordant become harmonious and beautiful by the perspective of how we hear, see, and live it. May we be thankful for the lives we have and the companions on the path with us. May we bless ourselves and each other by our perspective. May we be reminded that there is a harmony in everything, even the inharmonious; as the Native Americans say, may it be so, above, below, within and around us. Shalom. Amen. Be Blessed