Saturday, January 03, 2009

Have We Lost the True Meaning of Balance?

Almost 20 years ago our Fraternity set forth a plan to take us into the 21st Century. The Balanced Man logo was introduced subliminally at the Conclave in St. Louis and it depicted the "balanced man or the epitome of man" in a motion vector study reminiscent of early Greek physicians and mirrored in many of Da Vinci's drawings of human form and function. Bordering the logo, in classic Greek, is the phrase ("sound mind in a sound body") which is symbolic of the balanced life in which you have "Spirit Healthy, Body Healthy." The logo was supposed to represents our values, commitment, and direction.

One can probably say that "Spirit Healthy, Body Healthy" probably predates early Greek medicine, which is the forerunner of today's modern medicine. In the days of the early Greek masters, a healthy individual had his "humors," of which there were four, in complete balance or harmony with the four elements they felt comprised the universe. Empedocles introduced into philosophy the doctrine of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water as being the "four-fold root of all things."

The human body was supposed to be made of these primordial substances, health resulting from their balance; disease from imbalance. Nothing can be created or destroyed; there was only transformation. This is the basis of the modern theory of the conservation of energy. Everything was felt to originate from the attraction of the four elements. Repulsion resulted in destruction. These were thought to also apply, likewise, to the moral world in the forms of love and hate.

Pythagoras, the geometer, studied Egyptian numerology and developed a doctrine of the mystic power of numbers. He held that unity being perfection and representing God, the number 12 represents the whole material universe of which the factors 3 and 4 represent the worlds, the spheres, and the primordial elements. Hence again, the balance within the tetrad (the 4 elements, the 4 humors) represented perfection of eternally flowing Nature.

Speculating the origin of the Greek concept of the "balanced man" or "sprit healthy, body healthy" we are not talking about the average man, the common man, or the mediocre man. In the eyes of the ancient Greeks, the "balanced man" was the epitome of perfection. He was emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually in harmony with himself as well as with his environment. Although the concept of "balanced" may seem mundane to some, we should reflect on its origin and true meaning - "exceptional; perfect."

Have we strayed on our mission? Have we become too enamoured with those more ephemeral and tangible things and bastardized the real concept of balance? Have we become so narcicistic and egotistical that we have neglected the true core from which balance must eminate? Have we lost focus on those more mystical and intangible ideals that incorporate the soul and truly make us human and balanced for a bulging bicep?

As Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: "What a piece of work in man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!"

It is the soul and spirit of the human being that makes us better than an animal and more complex than a machine.

It is time to for our Fraternity to have a spiritual revival and return to the true essence of fraternalism. It is time to return to the Ritual for what it means and for what we can incorporate into our lives from it.