Not so Much but Just Enough

The whole harmony of life is a balancing act–not too tight, not too loose. It is not static—this Yin-Yang balance—it is in constant motion, ever impermanent as it shifts and adapts but always it is whole, complete.

The phrase “not too tight, not too loose” is associated with a well-known Buddhist story about a musician—he is a sitar or lute player depending upon the version–who comes to the Buddha for advice on meditating.

No and No 0914The Buddha advises the musician to consider his musical instrument as he asks, “What happens if you turn the strings too tightly?”

“The strings break,” the musician answers.

“And when the strings are not tight enough?”

The musician replies, “They are too loose. A string in tune is neither too tight nor too loose.”

Not too tight, not too loose is the elegant simplicity of balance, whether we are tuning a musical instrument, practicing meditation, or just living our lives day-to-day. Ultimately, imbalance finds balance.

The constant adjusting of imbalance plays out against the backdrop of life ever in motion and always in perfect balance. That is the wholeness of Buddha nature where cacophony finds its way to harmony, ultimately.

The tuning of strings on wood is straightforward but for human beings with so many ways to adjust and adapt what is too much or not enough is not always as obvious.

It is helpful when there is a buddha to ask, although the face of a buddha is not always recognized.

We meet ourselves time and again

in a thousand disguises on the path of life.

Carl Jung

These disguises, or buddhas, are mirrors of well-known behaviors, the “ineffable flux that makes a person a unique being” (Ted Kaptchuk). It is for us to look into each mirror, to seek the unique in the familiar, to open to life as it is revealed. If not, we could miss meeting a buddha.

The uniqueness is the chaos of being alive—the struggle for balance—within the constancy of life, whole in its harmony. Like the strings of the lute, living requires a fine tuning between too much and not enough. And for the sitar, it is how it sings.
No One Way 0914

There is no standard or absolute–what is health for one person may be sickness in another. There is no notion of “normal” Yin-Yang–only the unique challenges and possibilities of each human life.

(Ted Kaptchuk, The Web That Has No Weaver)

As Lao Tzu said, “he who stands on tiptoe is not steady” for the only constancy in Yin-Yang is that it—and us—are ever in flux. There is no one health for all, no normal for anyone. There is only the fine tuning of living—not too tight, not too loose—in attaining balance, momentary as it may be.

Nothing remains; everything passes by.
The only thing that always abides is your witnessing.

That witnessing brings balance.
That witnessing is balance.


Always, there is the passing parade of buddhas, in one disguise after another.

16 thoughts on “Not so Much but Just Enough

  1. Osho! Have you read his books? I did a short online meditation course led by Osho but am now interested in his books. Any suggestions? I love the kismet of this. I’ve been thinking about his books and up pops your blog with the quote:).


    1. Kismet is so cool, isn’t it? I have not read Osho, interesting as he is and was. The one book that I have considered is The Absolute Tao. Let me know what you decide to read of his. The link to the quote is a favorite zen blog of mine, The blog is such a wonderful resource. Thanks, Kay!


  2. that’s one of the many things I like about the Buddhist viewpoint, the simple but wonderful truth of the “middle path.” thanks for another mentally and spiritually engaging blog!


    1. I know, me too, Craig. As you know and as Tiramit mentions, there is a constant flux but the teaching is to balance one’s ride, constantly adjusting. Thanks for such great support of my blog.


  3. Thanks for this nice post. I’m reminded of the Thai words: por laew (enough already) and: por dii (good enough), it’s a Buddhist culture and these expressions are used in the context of the Teaching on tuning the string you have as an example. ‘The constant adjusting of imbalance plays out against the backdrop of life ever in motion and always in perfect balance.’ This says it all for me; monitoring a situation in constant flux…


    1. Thanks for the kind words. When I remember the constant flux adjusting against the background of Buddha Nature, I relax or monitor as you say. I like that word. Thank you for that. Always glad to see you here.


  4. This post felt like a message to me to make sure I remember the importance of balancing my work and my life….the day job has been sucking me in lately. Thanks! This weekend I actually got some things done for me and it felt good. 🙂


    1. Hi, Kitt!
      Glad you found a bit of balance last week. And as you say, it does feel good when we even our lives out a bit. Of course, it is a constant shifting, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by, Kitt. Always glad to see you here.


  5. Another wonderful and thought-provoking post! Thank you.The notion of a ‘normal’ balance for individuals is something that intrigues me; we find ourselves beset with pressure to conform to the way others measure that balance – everything from ‘normal’ ranges in medical tests to the ‘normal’ hand to write with (one of my bug-bears, as you know – I have never been able to hand-write properly since primary school over that one). Sometimes it’s driven not by a scientific reality but by the latest ‘truth’ identified in the medical profession, which remains a ‘truth’ only until it is superseded by the next trendy idea. It becomes particularly irksome when someone outside that ‘normal’ is informed that it is their own fault for not being in the expected range, as if it is a choice – the ‘you have high cholesterol, therefore you are a bad person who makes bad lifestyle choices’ response from doctors. The reality, as you point out, is that in the sense meant by Ying-Yang, ‘normal’ is, indeed, going to be defined by the individual’s own balance. How else can it be?


    1. Exactly, Matthew, how else can it be? This rushing to the latest normal as if that will even out life stuns me.It seems that only in discovering our own “normal” do we find balance, perhaps even contentment. One size of normal will not fit all, and as your comment reveals, what needless pain and damage it can do. Thanks, Matthew!


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