Suffering and sex, money and power are the four most over-rated things in culture and civilization. All are good/necessary in their time and place. Not one warrants the emphasis it receives. Living in the service of any of them disrupts balance and harmony and introduces chaos and discord in the lives of their servant-victims. Vows of poverty and chastity go too far in the opposite direction, and the optimal way is the middle path among them all. Robert Ruark had his grandfather (Perhaps Ned Atkins) say (In The Old Man and the Boy), "A fish is only a fish, and if you make too much of it, you lose the whole point of it." The same perspective applies to suffering and sex, money and power. Making too much of anything is one of the things we do best. And finding the tipping point between just enough and too much is a lost art worldwide. Making our way back to the center is the unrecognized necessity of every life. We do that in the silent consideration of our own extremes in light of the Good beyond all goods, which is the recognition of what needs to happen in any situation, and the wherewithal to serve it above all else-- doing what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, where it needs to be done, how it needs to be done because it needs to be done, moment by moment, situation by situation, all our life long. What needs to happen here and now is always cast aside in our press to avoid suffering by enjoying sex, money and power. That, we say, is what always needs to happen. Believing that prevents us from seeing what we look at and suffering the pain of knowing what's what, and what needs to be done about it with the gifts/daemon/virtues/specialties that are ours to serve and share, moment to moment, situation by situation, all our life long.
Knowing what needs to be done and doing it in each situation as it arises is the most important thing. Is the only thing. Everything else falls out around this. Until this happens, everything that happens is irrelevant, inconsequential, beside the point. The point is knowing what needs to be done and doing it. No matter what. In each situation as it arises. Forever. The second-most important thing is knowing where to draw the line and drawing it. In each situation as it arises. Forever. The two things, the first and second, are two aspects of the same thing. Knowing what needs to be done is knowing where to draw the line. Knowing where to draw the line is knowing what needs to be done. The two things require the union of opposites: Yes and No. On the one hand this, and on the other hand, that. In any situation, there are contraries that have to be held together, joined together, in the body of those who bear the pain of polar opposites in finding the middle way which results in doing what must be done. The doing is one thing. What are we to do? The question is answered out of the tension created by the pull of forces of chaos and madness tearing us apart and presenting us with The Unchooseable Choice. When we are damned if we do and damned if we don't, our only option is to be damned and be done with it. But. It isn't that easy. We have to walk two paths at the same time in (practically) each situation as it arises. There is what to do and what to leave undone. Life comes alive and is lived at that point. This is the axis mundi, "the still point of the turning world" (T.S. Eliot). The World Pole uniting the Cosmic Contradictions of Yin and Yang, Love and Hate, Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, etc. The place of choice and decision that determines all that follows in each situation as it arises. Our choice, of course, is to avoid the agony of choosing and to lose ourselves in the comforting fog of 10,000 addictions. Where we neither know nor care what we are doing, and live without living from one high to the next, oblivious to the reality of that which needs to be done (and needs us to do it) because it hurts too much, and "All we ever wanted was smooth and easy" (Ogi Overman). We walk two paths at the same time by keeping one eye on the other path and one eye on this path, and not losing sight of either path, bearing the pain and choosing the choices required by seeing/knowing/doing what needs to be done, here and now, step by step, all along the way.