Meditation 3: Balanced Effort

One of the most important ways that the Middle Way can be applied to meditation is through the idea of balanced effort. In fact, I think one could put it rather more strongly than that. One could even say that the practice of meditation, in a broad sense of the term, is balanced effort. That is, whatever one is doing, whether it is formally labelled ‘meditation’ or not, one gains more effective awareness through an immediate experience of balancing between extremes.

The two extremes that one is avoiding can be conceptualised in all sorts of ways, as the assertion or negation of ill-adapted fixed views. However, those extreme views are likely to be associated with reasons for either straining or slacking in meditation. For example, you might be too wilful in meditation because of anxiety about what your meditation teacher or other people in your meditation class will think – which could be identified with a fixed view about absolute value being placed with the authority of the group. On the other hand, you might be too lackadaisical in your meditation because of a fixed view that whatever you feel you want now is OK – which could be identified with a fixed view of yourself.

It is the views behind it that make the practice of balanced effort a practice of the Middle Way, but actually it’s probably not helpful to spend too long analysing the views behind your feelings in meditation. Rather, you can just experience extremes of feeling, whatever the reasons behind them, and respond to those extremes by relaxing what is too stressed or tightening what is too slack. The Buddha used the analogy of a lute-string for the Middle Way, and this applies very well to balanced effort as well. You need to be sounding just the right note.

Too much wilfulness may well be detectable physically, in the form of tension in your body. The shoulders and the face seem to be particular barometers of it, so initial relaxation as you start off in meditation needs to pay attention to the muscles in these areas. It can help to clench each muscle and then relax it. Other indicators of tension might be a tight chest or clenched teeth. I find it very helpful to deliberately open the chest at the beginning of meditation, and an openness of the chest seems to be associated with warmth of emotion.

On the other hand, too much relaxation may well result in a slouched posture. Assuming you’re doing sitting meditation (which you might not be, following Peter’s previous contribution on standing meditation!), you can try to find a balanced uprightness by imagining a thread attached to the top of your head, that is gently pulling your body upwards. If you follow the sense of such a thread, it should lead to a straightening in the shoulders and neck, though without rigidity.

Apart from developing the conditions for balanced effort through posture, there is also an ongoing process of responding to distractions that drag you one way or the other. If you are encountering high-energy distractions such as anxious thoughts or obsessive desires, you can try to balance them out Blondin_sculpture_Ladywoodby focusing more on your rooted body, particularly your abdomen. On the other hand, if you are feeling torpid or sleepy, then opening your eyes slightly, or making your object of meditation more stimulating, may help.

Every time you sit down (or stand up) to meditate, you are also tightrope walking. To practice their skill, though, I imagine that tightrope walkers have to get used to regularly falling off. Let’s hope there’s a safety net.

 

Picture: Sculpture of Charles Blondin, tightrope walker, at Ladywood in Birmingham

About Robert M Ellis

Robert M Ellis is the founder and chair of the Middle Way Society, and author of a number of books on Middle Way Philosophy, including the introductory 'Migglism' and the more in-depth 'Middle Way Philosophy' series. He has a Christian background, and about 20 years' past experience of practising Buddhism, but it was his Ph.D. studies in Philosophy that set him on the track of developing a systematic account of the Middle Way beyond any specific tradition. He has earned his living mainly by teaching, and more recently by online tutoring.

24 thoughts on “Meditation 3: Balanced Effort

  1. I know that sometimes a distraction when meditating is anxiety, usually caused when I question myself whether or not I have said something unintentionally hurtful or unthinking, it is like self induced torture! Most often fears are unfounded, although I know this, it doesn’t stop me from going through the same agonies on another occasion. I am aware that this is pride and a desire for approval, – still a school girl at heart. Finding a balanced view becomes a focus for meditation and calm returns, til the next time.

  2. I find the idea that ‘the practice of meditation is balanced effort’ a very useful way of explaining the process not only to other people but to myself as well.

    1. In my reflexive contrarian way, I’d rather suggest “effortless balance” than “balanced effort”. In my own experience balance finds itself, it can’t be constructed by tweaking oneself with fiddly adjustments, in order to achieve it. There are tight-rope walkers who don’t use a balancing pole.

      It’s perhaps more about surrender than effort.

      Robert where I think you’re right is in your description of “an immediate experience of balance” – opening your awareness to the sensations associated with the automatic operation of your balancing apparatus, structures in your middle ear, your eyes, and almost imperceptible signals from your muscles, mediated by the hind-brain (the cerebellum).

      Sustaining attention calls for effort, I do agree. Isn’t that a different quality of effort from the physical effort required in shifting position or attempting to line the head up with an imaginary thread. After all, gravity isn’t pulling us up, it’s drawing us down through the soles of our feet (if we’re standing), and through parts of the pelvis (the two ischial tuberosities) and the coccyx (tail)if we’re sitting.

      Any effort involved is in opening awareness to these, trusting them to work to prevent your falling over, and letting go of the fear of falling. There is no safety net, and you don’t need one. If you needed one, you’d be equipped with one in the womb, against mishaps as you emerged from mother’s birth canal.

      I find that the more open I am to the simultaneous ‘totality’ of body experience, the less I’m distracted by thoughts. Just as one instrument in an orchestra is – not lost, nor less distinctive – but qualitatively different when played ‘ in concert’ with the whole ensemble, so thoughts are invested with a new meaning against the lovely harmonies of many-sensory embodiment. Even a ‘solo part’ – an itch, a pain, an idea, a feeling, doesn’t distract, or not as much.

      Meditation does – for me – bring a realisation of my ‘holdings-on’, my rigidities, resistances and all the rest. It also opens me to what Eugene Gendlin, the ‘focusing’ chap, call “all of that” – a huge but palpable experience of nameless stuff, that invites my finding meaning in, perhaps by opening myself to its ‘name’. A little ‘effort’ helps in clearing a space for “all of that” to speak to me, and a little ‘effort’ to attend to its gentle whisperings.

      Maybe that’s my kind of calisthenics!

  3. When I meditate I try to situate myself in an area between the two poles of ‘effort’ and ‘effortlessness’ in an attempt to find a balance between the two. For me neither of these terms is really appropriate to convey that balance but I’ve not been able to come across another term either that does this adequately (although again maybe ‘miggle’ has potential here). In the Zen tradition, they seem to make a stab at it with the expression “effortless effort” . However it’s always sounded a bit too esoteric for me. It would be interesting also to know the root of the verb “meditate”. The first part of it does seem to indicate some kind of Middle Way. The problem with this verb is that it has lots of connotations that are often associated with metaphysics.

    1. I have found another way to practice standing meditation, I stand by the goldfish pond, shoulders relaxed, knees slightly bent and gaze into the water, it feels as though the weight of my body is sinking into the ground. I cannot do it for long for pain in my legs, but I think that as my legs get used to standing in this way the time will increase, then I will relax into it more easily.

      1. I like your ‘gaze’ Norma. I’ve heard gaze described as a very, very light form of touch, like that of a feather or snowflake, melting.

        I’ve found gaze very helpful in my work with very frightened, suspicious or angry people. At such times my gaze makes no significant contact with the other, and not with their own eyes, it opens around them, like a very, very light enclosing embrace; or it’s like a soft ‘safety net’ into which they can fall if they choose.

        Years ago – out of what seemed like nowhere – I suddenly ‘knew’ that my gaze sometimes acted on others, or was experienced by them, like my poking them with a pencil. With that knowledge grew some capacity in me for using eye-contact or gaze more sensitively, and awarely.

        Is your pond looking back at you?

        1. Hi Peter, that is a lovely description of a gaze, I hadn’t thought of it as a touching action. Perhaps frogs watch from their muddy hiding places! Like Narcisus I see a shadow, a reflection, I am only one of many living creatures in my small garden, a thought to focus on.

    2. Yes, Robert, I was interpreting effort too narrowly, as physical effort, hence my emphasis on “tweaking and fiddling” both of which involve small, physical adjustments.

      As you rightly suggest, energy takes other forms. Your suggestion about an ‘energy reservoir’ is also very helpful. Thus energy can be (thought of as) gathered, conserved, released, leaked, spilled, etc.

      Reading Barry’s comment about the word meditate, and its slightly incense-perfumed, saffron-coloured connotations, reinforces my sense that Buddhist associations with aspects of migglist practice do get slightly in my way. Like you, perhaps, Barry – ‘effortless effort’ has the flavour of austere sanctimony; but then my own pronouncements aren’t always made without a dollop of sanctimony, I tell myself.

      I’m also pleased to note the alliterative relationship of ‘miggle’ and ‘juggle’; maybe miggle can claim a spurious etymological ancestry with juggle? Oh, well…..

  4. Hi Peter, I agree that sustaining attention is a different kind of effort from physical effort, and that the physical process involved in meditation is more about relaxation.

    How you react to the term ‘effort’ might depend on your interpretation in relation to these two types of effort. It might be misleading not to use the term ‘effort’ at all, when meditation actually requires a good deal of effort at sustaining attention.

    Buddhism talks about sampajana – not Samuel’s night attire, but ‘continuity of intention’. I’d see this as a reservoir of energy that one has allocated to meditation, and then needs to keep releasing slowly throughout the practice. This effort then needs to be distributed widely as awareness, not just of a process of thought, but of the whole body.

  5. Hi,

    My view is that to maintain balance, both physical and psychological requires effort. I think that when a balance is found, we can have an illusion of effortless. If we take standing or walking as physical examples then we can see this process at work. Both of these activities require a great deal of effort, even though we are not always conscious of it. When we stand our brains and bodies are working constantly to keep us upright, making tiny adjustments from moment to moment. In most circumstances this goes unnoticed, but watch somebody who has had a stroke (which has effected their walking) try to stand and walk – it is hard, even though there may be nothing physically wrong with their legs. Most of us forget how difficult it was learning to stand and walk, and we can take the effort that it takes for granted.

    The same is true if we are trying to avoid the extremes discussed by Robert. The desires to be over wilful or too relaxed, act like forces. We are drawn to them, and to strike a balance between the two requires effort, as does maintaining that balance. I suspect that once one has found a state of balance (which I am not sure I ever have) we sometimes have the illusion that it is effortless.

    I like the Zen saying ‘effortless effort’, suggested by Barry, as I like many of the Zen sayings. I think that Zen has got much right in its interpretation of Buddhism but it loses me with its veneration of Bodhisattva’s and other mystical practices.

    Rich

    1. Hi Rich
      I agree that maintaining balance, both physical and psychological requires a degree of effort but I can’t help thinking it also requires a degree of non-effort (as in being relaxed, not-wanting, letting go, open to experience etc). I don’ t think viewed in this way this needs to be seen as an illusion or am I just deluding myself?

    2. Rich

      These are interesting and valuable comments and as you know I’m an advocate of standing meditation (as a worthwhile option), so you’ll allow me to raise a couple of minor challenges on your points about standing.

      I disagree that standing requires a great deal of effort. Consider huge skyscraper buildings, no effort is needed to keep them standing, although considerable effort is spent on their construction. They are built so that all the energies used in their construction are scientifically rearranged around the buildings ‘centre of gravity’ and are effortlessly transmitted ‘into the earth’. Small compensatory movements of the building (wind, earth tremors etc) are enabled through the superstructure so as to maintain equilibrium without the expenditure of any additional energy e.g. necessitating motors attached to pulleys, counterweights etc. These are never called for.

      The same is true of the erect human form. Hardly any energy (and no effort) is needed to maintain alignment and ‘balance’. But it takes practice and the ability to relax.

      People who’ve had strokes usually lose power in major muscle groups innervated by motor neurones whose origins are in the motor cortex of the brain hemisphere opposite the muscles affected. Thus a lesion (injury) to the left hemisphere will block or hinder nerve impulses to muscles on the right side of the body, leading to serious weakness or paralysis. Such impairment has gross effects on the capacity for balance, walking, moving the hands and arms etc.

      Some strokes have lesser effects on muscle groups, but all strokes affect muscle groups to some extent, and the effects on equilibrium or balance can’t always be judged from the apparant structural damage. Consider how the twin towers collapsed – as if from the inside – as a result of hidden but catastrophic internal derangement of the stabilising structures hidden from view.

      Unless a child has significant neurological problems, I really don’t think learning to stand or walk is difficult (I speak as the father of six), although it can be nail-bitingly difficult to watch! There’s a stage of trial and error, of overcoming obstacles, and learning, but it consumes only a tiny amount of childish energy, and children have huge amounts, necessary for sustaining growth as well as development.

      Once learned, it’s easy to stand and to walk, it’s fluent and generally unconsciously performed. Walking uses energy, and modest additional effort may be needed over rough ground, steep inclines, for unusually long distances, or carrying unaccustomed loads. At 75 years of age I can walk for five miles over level ground without getting tired – the usual signs that energy is a little depleted. Many humans walk fifteen to twenty miles a day with the expenditure of little energy (as calculated by their consumption of dietary kilocalories).

      Anyway, this may be boring to most. But as Robert’s comment made clear to me, it’s important to distinguish mental effort and physical effort, and this thread has helped in that respect, of clarity and specificity, if maybe not in others……..

      Best wishes, Rich

  6. Hi Peter,

    I am not sure that the human/ sky scraper analogy works. The sky scraper is engineered so that it will stand effortlessly, the human body is not the same. If we take standing meditation as an example, then even if you are in what feels like the most stable posture that is possible, you cannot remain in this state without the constant efforts of your brain, nervous system and muscles. If you lose consciousness then you will fall and if your nervous system is compromised, blocking the signals to your muscles (which are working hard to keep you upright) then you will also fall. We burn more calories standing in any posture than we do when we lie down. A sky scraper does not need consciousness to remain erect, nor does it need fuel to keep itself standing.

    My example of somebody with stroke is merely to demonstrate that standing/ walking is not something that the human body can do without the effort of the brain. Once the part of the brain that is responsible for walking has been damaged (not always by stroke) then the patient has to ‘create’ new neural pathways that will be able the send the correct signals to the muscles – this takes a lot of effort and is difficult, but if the neural pathway is successfully created then the effort will become less and it may (if the patient is lucky) feel like there is no effort required. But even then the neural pathway is being used, as are the muscles – it still takes effort to stand or walk.

    I accept that a toddler does not find learning to walk difficult, my use of the word was misleading. I do think that it requires effort though, and it is a credit to our evolution that we can achieve something with apparent ease, that our best Robots find extremely difficult (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6291746.stm). Language is another example of this, as one of the most complicated things that a human learns to do – which toddlers also manage with apparent ease, and adults if they need to learn to do it again don’t.

    I think that the word effort is sometimes used interchangeably with difficult or exertion but I do not think that effort has to be difficult or require exertion.

    Hi Barry,

    ‘I agree that maintaining balance, both physical and psychological requires a degree of effort but I can’t help thinking it also requires a degree of non-effort (as in being relaxed, not-wanting, letting go, open to experience etc)’.

    I am not sure that these are examples of non-effort, to be relaxed one has to first make effort to relax, even if it is only to decide to relax. I would also say that even during very deep levels of relaxation (as long as we are still alive) there is effort occurring in the body and mind.

    To not-want is, to a greater or lesser degree, to make the effort to not-want. I think that if somebody believes that they do not want anything then they are likely to be repressing their desires. A better way might be to recognise and accept our wants without being dominated by a need to act upon them, which takes effort.

    Letting go also requires effort and is an active process, for example recognising an attachment, understanding that attachment and then letting go of that attachment.

    Again, being open to experience is also an active process that might start with a decision to be open to an experience and then to experience that experience, the experience of which requires effort, even if it is only by using ones senses (and of course ones brain).

    I do not think that the illusion of effortlessness is delusion. I am not conscious of my kidneys working even though I know that they must be. The illusion is that I drink water and then with no obvious effort convert it into urine (in an unpleasant parody of a New Testament story). Experiencing the illusion does not make me deluded. Although there is no reason why I need to know that my kidneys are working. It would be possible to live a healthy and full life without even knowing what a kidney is.

    Warmly disagreeing

    Rich

    p.s. this seems like as good a time as any. I am often conscious (perhaps neurotically) that my posts have an authoritative tone, which is never my purpose. I write in the style that I do, only to make my thoughts legible to others. I am sure that those that have met me will agree that I am not at all authoritative in person.

    1. Hi Rich
      That makes sense to me (in a clear but unauthorative way). You’ve helped me to clarify my thoughts on the matter. To use an expression of Peter’s, I’m occasionally prone to “woolly thinking”. Maybe after whizzing around for a while, I’ve finally come full circle and recognise that Robert’s term “balanced effort” is perhaps indeed the most appropriate one to describe finding a balance between concentrating and day dreaming, holding a posture rigidly or floppily etc.
      Warmly agreeing
      Barry

  7. Hi Rich

    Without getting into an extended ding-dong about sky-scrapers, our muscles don’t ‘work hard to hold us up’ when we’re standing erect (no more than when we’re sitting). I’d like to see where the data comes from that proposes a significantly higher metabolic rate for a standing subject over a sitting one.

    As for the skyscraper analogy, think of two hundred 500 g packets of chippolatas stacked neatly on top of each other, in such a way that they don’t fall over. That’s a tall tower of well-stacked meat (sorry if you’re a Vegan reading this), and the body’s no different, except there’s no bones in the sausage. Bones add to to stability. Those chippolatas don’t have to work hard not to fall over. They’re just stacked right. Just as we are, if we’re relaxed, and allow alignment round our centre to work for us (it does).

    Yes, the body makes tiny adjustment via proprioceptive sensors and subtle movements to stay balanced, but it’s emphatically not a strain or an effort, and sitters are in the same situation. If you think sitters are ‘still’, watch a meditator expanding and contracting, swaying and twitching, and be disabused. Sitting still is for old ladies who died peacefully in their chairs.

    Yes, I’m a miggling bolshie, and authoritarian at times, but I won’t buy into what I reckon has become unquestioned Buddhist mythology about the primacy of sitting, and stuff about my centre of gravity being in my arse or at the bottom of my spine on the cushion. The centre of gravity is, I think, anywhere on a radius from the centre of the earth vertically through a body at or above its surface. The shape of the body is irrelevant. You’ll have seen those irregular stones balanced incredibly on their tips? And if you’re sitting and you lose consciousness you’ll be liable to topple over too! :)

    Peter

  8. The debate between Peter and Rich seems to be about whether physical energy is required to maintain a pose. I don’t know about that – it requires a survey of scientific evidence. But there also seems to be a certain amount of equivocation between effort in the sense of muscular activity (or however else you define ‘physical’ effort) and what feels like effort for us.

    I agree with Rich that what feels like effort (‘mental effort’) involves making new neural connections. You can also understand mental effort as involving a conflict between our desire to achieve something on the one hand, and the resistance to it on the other. The resistance might be because of unconscious resistance due to repression, or we might remain conscious that we need to suppress a certain resistance for practical reasons. If an activity is very new it might be a doubtful or unconfident voice that articulates the resistance. Either way, though, overcoming mental resistance is going to feel like an effort.

    The problem with repression (which I would link closely to metaphysical beliefs) is that it requires an effort to maintain activity in the face of resistance, and that effort is unnecessary. We don’t really have to repress in order to address conditions, only to suppress. So energy keeps having to be invested in keeping the repressed stuff down. Keeping consciously suppressed stuff down also takes an effort (e.g. keeping your mind on the relevant issue when you’re talking to someone you find sexually attractive) – but that effort is unavoidable in the circumstances. I’d suggest that ‘balanced effort’ involves suppression but not repression. Wilful energy can go into maintaining repressions, but if we maintain some level of awareness of what we are suppressing and treat it kindly, we will just be suppressing, which takes only a more moderate effort.

    This kind of mental effort, whether balanced or not, is of course an aspect of the physical system. For example (according to Daniel Kahneman) we find it easier to make a mental effort when our blood sugar is higher. When we’ve done too much of it and our blood sugar is low, we are subject to ‘ego depletion’. Nevertheless, mental effort seems to be one channel down which energy flows, and it is also needed for unconscious bodily activity. So it’s not as though mental and physical energy are entirely separate, but nevertheless I don’t think that whether or not we use our muscles when standing makes any difference to the issue of balanced effort. It would only be if we use our muscles in an unaccustomed way and have to overcome mental resistance to doing so that it would become relevant.

  9. Hi Peter,

    We could go round and round and round here couldn’t we?

    Either way, the first point that I feel I must make is that I am in no way advocating sitting over standing for meditation (at least not in this context). I would say that both require effort – everything that you say about a sitter swaying and correcting is correct, at least in my experience. I agree that sitting absolutely still is for dead old ladies, but this only applies to chairs.

    If we die while we are meditating, in the classic ‘Buddhist’ posture or standing then we will collapse as the effort (not strain) that is required to maintain the posture is lost. In the case of an old lady in her chair, once dead then the chair is holding the posture not the body.

    If we were just comprised of meat then we could be stacked, but we are not. It requires effort to hold our skeletal frame in position, the only way that we can be stacked is prone or supine. Anecdotally, my work with anaesthetised ‘bodies’ has demonstrated to me effectively that an unconscious body cannot be stacked in position without heavy duty equipment, that will resist the forces trying to bring to crashing down.

    This is not really evidence, although it does quote some, that claims that standing burns more calories than sitting. but I would add that effort can be easy and even go unnoticed – it does not have to involve any strain. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24532996

    Barry,

    If my arguments are (sometimes) persuasive without being authoritative then I am a happy man. The problem comes when I am incapable of being persuaded myself, which hasn’t happened yet.

    Rich.

    1. Hi, I feel prompted to add a comment with regard to the phrase ‘old ladies sitting in chairs’ how about old men too? I’m feeling rather out numbered, not seriously bothered, but I have to uphold women’s equality! Your debate is very interesting, I’ve enjoyed reading all the threads. I had no idea meditation techniques could stir up so many differing views. Wonderful.

      1. A very important point, Norma. Sexist imagery on my part, death comes to us all, men and women alike. I’ve been reading ‘How to Live’ (A Life of Montaigne) by Sarah Bakewell; she quotes him thus: “If you don’t know how to die, don’t worry; Nature will tell you what do do on the spot, fully and adequately. She will do this job perfectly for you; don’t bother your head about it.”

        Although I’ve learned to be wary of the personification (or objectification) of Nature as a discrete entity with agency, I’d endorse the idea that death is 100% successful, and – as a process – takes care of itself, so to speak.

        As for the extended discussion, I got a lot out of it, and Robert’s and Richard’s comments gave me lots to think about. I sometimes approach debate in a roustabout spirit that isn’t appropriate or sympathetic to other participants. It is important for me to move more cautiously and thoughtfully through arguments, and to have more regard for the meaning of words I use, and for whether others share that meaning.

        I’ll continue the discussion on Wednesday, when I have an opportunity to post Meditation 4.

  10. Hi,

    Norma, It is amazing how easy it still is to use sexist language – it can even appear to come naturally, which is disturbing, interesting too. I have been asking myself why the image of a deceased old woman sitting in a chair seemed more appropriate than a deceased old man, and I don’t know – but I would have used the example of a woman rather than a man too. So my apologies.

    Peter, I have always found your arguments entirely appropriate and sympathetic – if they are not sympathetic then that has been lost on me :). They are robust, assertive and sometimes at odds with what I am saying – but that is the point of discussion. I don’t really like the idea of perpetual back slapping – as I have said here before – it would make me suspicious. I look forward to Meditation 4, I am finding this series very fruitful.

    Rich.

  11. I suspect a certain negativity towards the feminine is to some extent hard-wired in all of us in a Lakoffian embodied metaphorical way. When I say all of us, I imagine it’s predominately men but I feel it’s in women too. In language, If you take any set of male/female pairs, the female term invariably has for many people more of a negative bias – master/mistress, king/queen, bull/cow, dog/bitch fox/vixen etc. Arguably, religion has played a big part, why for example are terms related to the female genitalia generally regarded as the most offensive terms in our language , cunt, twat etc. I can only surmise this has something to do with original sin. I think however it goes deeper than that, for example there’s nothing in the Koran that says the clitoris should be removed so that women cannot enjoy sex, I understand this is a phaeronic practice and is arguably about control (or fear). I also don’t think the reason the estimated 3 million women who were murdered as witches in the Middle Ages was solely religious. Obviously things are changing and awareness building in all its many forms is playing a big part in this but I still think we’ve got quite a way to go. What are other peoples thoughts on this?

  12. Thank you Barry,

    This seems to go some way to explain the inherent sexism within the overwhelming percentage of societies, past and present, which is often supported by Women too!

    I also hold religion partly accountable for this, although I would agree that it does not originate from religion – rather religion justifies and perpetuates. Fear and control (or perhaps fear of losing control!) does seem to be an important factor.

    My favourite (if I have one) John Lennon song is ‘Woman is the Nigger of the World’, and the line ‘Woman is the slave to the slave’ feels especially pertinent – it is one of those that makes me cry. Of course John Lennon was also capable of cruel chauvinism himself, but then he also sang about love and peace, yet was capable of fits of rage and violence.

    Rich

  13. Good morning to you all. Thank you for your responses to my comment, I appreciate them. I was up on my high horse, I have stepped down now!
    I would accept Lakoff’s view Barry, not that I have read his work, also that religion and many institutions have much to answer for with regard to attitudes to women. Woman are either the root of all evil or are lifted to the height of saints, although progress is being made, glass ceilings are being splintered. The suffering women have and still endue at the hands of dominant shamen/priests/rulers is incalculable. On another tangent, the magic of discussion.
    I think of dying sometimes, I will take the process as it comes, we all hope it will be painless, no choice really, it is the end, leaving just memories for those left and they may fade in time.
    I look forward to Wednesday’s meditation blog Peter.

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