The first question:
Please comment on the art of balanced living. My life is often an experience of extremes, with the middle road difficult to maintain for any length of time.
Life consists of extremes. Life is a tension between the opposites. To be exactly in the middle forever means to be dead. The middle is only a theoretical possibility; only once in a while are you in the middle, as a passing phase. It is like walking on a tightrope; you can never be exactly in the middle for any length of time. If you try, you will fall.
To be in the middle is not a static state, it is a dynamic phenomenon. Balance is not a noun, it is a verb; it is balancing. The tightrope walker continuously moves from the left to the right, from the right to the left. When he feels now he has moved too much to the left and there is fear of falling, he immediately balances himself by moving to the opposite, to the right. Passing from the left to the right, yes, there is a moment when he is in the middle. And again when he has moved too much to the right, there is fear of falling, he is losing balance, he starts moving towards the left. Passing from the right to the left, again he moves through the middle for a moment.
This is what I mean when I say balance is not a noun but a verb – it is balancing, it is a dynamic process. You cannot be in the middle. You can go on moving from left to right and right to left; this is the only way to remain in the middle.
Don’t avoid extremes, and don’t choose any one extreme. Remain available to both the polarities – that is the art, the secret of balancing. Yes, sometimes be utterly happy, and sometimes be utterly sad – both have their own beauties.
Our mind is a chooser; that’s why the problem arises. Remain choiceless. And whatsoever happens and wherever you are, right or left, in the middle or not in the middle, enjoy the moment in its totality. While happy, dance, sing, play music – be happy. And when sadness comes – which is bound to come, which is coming, which has to come, which is inevitable, you cannot avoid it – if you try to avoid it you will have to destroy the very possibility of happiness. The day cannot be without the night, and the summer cannot be without the winter, and life cannot be without death.