Is the problem agenda or is the problem balance?

calculateLike you, I know what it is to react to someone else’s agenda: an easy, familiar response that arises so quickly it seems even deeper than habit. Sometimes I react with desire, sometimes with indifference, sometimes with hostility. But regardless of my response, the most likely scenario is that I will react.

And like you, I know what it is to let my agenda throw me out of balance. There are times when I am swallowed by anger, defeat, desire and/or fear because I have chased my agenda far past the point of stability and balance.

Our spiritual and counselling traditions give us a variety of options helping us deal with the problem of agenda. The most common approach is to tell us that problems exist because we have the wrong agenda. We should believe in a different god, or adopt another spiritual practice, or practice a different train of thought, or associate with another community, etc. It is common for spiritual and counselling traditions to tell people what their agenda should be and sometimes this makes for a better people and a better community. And sometimes it leads to discrimination, prejudice and war.

Another common spiritual and/or counselling response is to encourage us to detach from agenda, to set desiring aside and tame the passion which fuels agenda. It is the hope of such suggestions that we become more tolerant and accepting, that we walk away from our tendency for judgment and bias. But sometimes such detachment leads to uncaring indifference, apathy and pride.
In spite of their limitations, these are both valued and often appropriate suggestions to deal with our problems because in such a struggle we learn how to reform and moderate those agendas which are destructive in our lives. But sometimes the problem is not actually with the agenda. Sometimes the problem is us.

When I stand in balance, I am in that place where the certainty of my autonomy as an individual person and the certainty of my interdependence as a member of the human community are indisputable. I am independent and connected, autonomous and interdependent, and these two opposing forces are equivalent and inseparable: They touch.

Maybe when I have difficulty with my agenda or someone else’s agenda it is because in that moment there is no longer an equivalency between autonomy and interdependence? Maybe I value one over the other? Maybe, in those moments when I fall into the dance of agenda, my autonomy is more important than my interdependence? Maybe the difficulties I experience with agenda are no different than any other difficulties in life – always a problem when I am out of balance, when I fall into the habit of favoring autonomy over interdependence or vise versa.
When I live in balance, I don’t have to work at getting rid of agenda. Rather, I experience the world with no agenda.