It’s the spring equinox. A time of balance, equilibrium, symmetry, harmony.
In art, in philosophy, in spiritual development and indeed in all of the finer fields of human endeavor, the state alluded to by these words is regarded as the the highest, the most sublime and the ultimate aim of all that is noble in human progress. Indeed, so many disciplines tell us that nothing should distract us from our quest to achieve this state as it’s achievement is the only real point of our existence.
So what would life be like if everyone and everything existed in a perpetual state of perfect balance and equilibrium? Well, it wouldn’t exist, and nor would existence. The truth is that the role of chaos is as essential to our existence as is our instinctive desire to achieve harmony. What gives the universe substance and indeed life is it’s chaos, combined with the desire of it’s substance to move toward equilibrium. If everything existed in either one of those two states, chaos or balance, there would, quite literally, be no existence. What creates the beautiful, fascinating and magnificent experience we share is that eternally driven movement from one state to the other. It’s the movement that creates stars, planets and life. In other words, it’s all about the journey.
Perhaps the most powerful demonstration of this is provided by the fundamental building block of our perceived reality, the atom. For a building block to work it has to be able to bond to other building blocks, in this case to form molecules, the chains of atoms required to form the chemical elements of which everything is made. This bonding is only possible because even atoms are created in a state of imbalance but have an inbuilt need to achieve balance. Let’s take water, for example. It’s molecules famously consist of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen ones. All of these atoms exist in an unbalanced state. They don’t have enough electrons for their structure to be balanced so are eager to take on more from elsewhere. They achieve this by sharing electrons. In a process known as covalent bonding the two hydrogen atoms share electrons with the oxygen atom and thus all achieve equilibrium, but only as long as they remain bonded. Hence the existence of water.
Right from the start, at the beginning of existence, three things were needed for that existence to spring into being. Chaos, equilibrium and a primal desire of all matter to move from one state to the other. Nothing has changed. As matter formed structures and those structures became ever more sophisticated, eventually giving rise to living organisms those two states and the primal desire to move from one to the other had to be replicated in every form ever created. The existence of the entire cosmos depends on it.
Let’s consider a human life in this context. When we are young most of us spend some time enjoying the chaos. Reveling in an anarchic lifestyle of spending a few minutes in the morning wondering who’s lounge we’ve woken up in. Taking spontaneous road trips on the back of one conversation or just for the heck of it. Many even consciously rebel against stability. This has nothing to do with politics or even social revolution, just a youthful love of adventure and the unpredictable. It’s only as we get older that balance, harmony and equilibrium become more attractive.
Initially balance is achieved by finding a mate. The balance of masculine and feminine, Yin and Yang, (remember, an atom doesn’t initially find balance internally, it needs another atom). This may lead to procreation, requiring more balance and the perceived stability that comes with that. Older still and a human becomes vulnerable, giving rise to a perceived existential need for the safety of equilibrium and harmony. Ultimately, comes death. After this, the material body decays and it’s molecules break down to the chaos from whence they came.
This is, of course, a simplistic generalisation. There may be times in our life when we achieve equilibrium only to lose it and return to chaos. We may even do this simply because of a need to break with routine and get back to the freedom that comes with chaos. A more earthy freedom of a different quality to the spiritual freedom promised by a state of balance. After some exploration this may be followed once again by the return of the desire for a more harmonious state of being. Even the explorer and adventurer needs to rest, but to most the urge to go and play in the chaos again will return, especially when the knowledge of how to return to equilibrium at will is instilled.
These alternate states of harmony and chaos may even give way to each other several times within one person within the span of one day. Perhaps the art of happiness is not to obsess on the balance and chastise our selves for the chaotic, but to enjoy both and learn how best to do so while “harming none”.
This cycle of chaos and equilibrium and most importantly the reciprocal movement between the two, is the churning engine of creation. Perhaps our souls will, postmortem, reside in a state of perpetual balance. Something joyous to anticipate. To fully enjoy the physicality of life, however, chaos, equilibrium and all the colourful states of being in between are not only just fine, they are essential.
Today it is the equinox. Even the Earth will know balance for but one day, before hurtling into summer and the heady chaos of parties, road trips and pale and dreamy nights full of magic. Falling in love, with another, with you, or with life itself. Enjoy and even revere this time of cosmic equilibrium, but don’t be afraid to be caught up by the wild, sensual seduction of the season that beckons you to fully enjoy what it is to be in physical form. Because, it’s all about the journey.