The Golden Mean


So how does one go about judging perspective?  Is it even appropriate, especially given that we all walk in our own pair of shoes, is there any kind of measurement that we can use to create some kind of standard? Empathy for our fellow humans can only take us so far.  Is there a human blueprint or archetype that we can use as a starting point?  When I observe the men in my house, a great deal of the time I truly believe that I’m the only sane person in crazy town.  Therein lies the rub…is it possible to truly understand perspective when all you have is your own…is there any substantive to point to judge what is truly illusory and crazy?  I know there are a million self-help books out there, and I’ve actually read a few…but I’m looking for something more subtle.  Is there an underlying beat, deeply embedded in our DNA, that we humans march too?  Let’s talk about the Golden Mean.

The Golden Mean, or Golden Proportion is a particular construct I’ve used to help me give shape and form to a concept that is usually so illusive.   Some of you who read this may be already familiar with this concept and for those of you who aren’t, I’ll explain it to the best of my ability (or you can always look it up in Wikipedia).

The Golden proportion is a special proportion deeply rooted in nature, art, math and philosophy that represents harmony and balance.  According to ancient history, the Greek mathematician and astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus (c.370 B.C.), noted that when he asked his associates to find the most pleasing placement of a crossbar, they naturally did so according to this proportion, 1 to .618.  Here is a diagram (great thing, the internet).

golden proportion

The golden mean is also called PHI (pronounced “fee”, not to be confused with PI) in the language of mathematics.  PHI was derived from a sequence of numbers created by a thirteenth century mathematician named Leonardo Fibonacci.  The sequence is a progression in which each term is equal to the sum of the two preceding numbers: 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21, and the quotients of the adjacent terms possessed the property of achieving the number 1.618, which is PHI, or the golden proportion.  PHI is found throughout some of the best architecture in history, including the Great Pyramid and the Parthenon.  You’ll see it in art, (a classic Greek urn, da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man) nature, (the spiral of a sea shell) biology, (the proportion of male to female bees in a honeybee community) and music (organizational structures in music or the shape of a violin).

What was insightful to me was not that we conceptually understand all the implications of the golden proportion, or mean, but that we, somehow by nature, abide by its rhythm.  Somehow we intuitively know this balance point.  Up there out in the world, there is a consistent melody that life moves to.  There is supposed to be a connection to something larger and I think that we stopped listening to that melody a long time ago.  In the human scale, our hearts lie right at the golden proportion point, so it isn’t surprising to me that the heart, not the head is the archetype where true wisdom and love is found.

The lack of reliance on intuition, that internal melody evidenced historically by how dominant pure reason became.  Reason, historically a male characteristic, has been considered superior to intuition.  Think of it, it’s common to tell someone to be reasonable but have you ever heard someone ask you to be intuitive?  The general tenor of history has taught that intuition, because it is vague and illusive, is also something that can’t be relied on and is something that should be evolved from, replaced by science and reason, again, probably rooted in that whole “sinful human nature” thing.  There is also plenty of examples in history when it was even vilified—note, burning “witches” at the stake.  In working to regain a better sense of balance in this world, hence a better perspective, there is nothing to lose by looking at the possibility that “reason” may have shown us just one side of the coin. Visiting the other side of the coin, via my intuition, certainly added clarity and a new dimension to my world.   And adding that dimension was as pivotal as learning the world was no longer flat.

Although intuition is intensely personal, outside resources were helpful in learning to tap into it, understanding the golden mean only being one of them.  We all receive plenty of guidance from outside sources, mine happened to be from scripture, scholars, educational programs and all sorts of other mediums and everyday people like my parents.  Most often I listened to these sources not because of a command but as the result of a conscious choice, they hit a harmonious chord deep within.  Like the story of the Garden of Eden, there is a point when we all have to learn to rely on ourselves when making choices.  Ultimately, I am the direct beneficiary of all my personal choices, even if the choice is only limited to whom or what I’m seeking direction. The greatest challenge is to have the courage to let go of the control of the rational world and allow ones self to move according to the rhythm of the universe.  In this age of rigid rules and control it feels overwhelming to trust what’s “out there.”   It has, for me, been the only way that I have stumbled across the answers to many of my life’s questions.  That isn’t to say reason wasn’t essential as a check when something sounded too good to be true.  It has always been the balance of both my innate sense and rational mind that has kept me pretty balanced (unless you ask the men in my house…)

As a result of remaining fairly ignorant about the power of intuition, I wonder how often we second guess ourselves.  The sense of knowing what choice is the right one comes to me by gut instinct far more often than I may realize or accept.  The result of weakening the credibility of our inner voice is that it becomes a whole lot easier for the world outside to dictate how we live.  As you already may realize, the outside world perpetuates a lot of illusions guaranteed to obstruct clear sight.  Without a strong inner voice, it’s easy to succumb to those illusions.  Perhaps living from the outside-in is less effective than to root how we live in the world from the inside-out.  So, from this point onward, try letting your intuition be your guide in what is presented as only one woman’s take on what lies on the other side of the coin.

How we observe the world is essential, but let me go into detail about that later. It was my intuition that added a whole different dimension to the power and accuracy of my observations.  But it isn’t always easy listening to my inner voice.  First, because it means shutting off my own babble long enough to listen and second, by its very nature it tends to be elusive.   In this day and age, it is even more difficult to listen to the voice within sometimes because of the noise of everyday life, from everything we’re wired into, to the noise of modern life outside.   We are all bombarded by sounds from practically the moment we wake up in the morning, and it takes a conscious effort to turn them off.  It is possible, however, to learn how to tune them out.  When things get really crazy and loud in my life, I remember a line from one of the Psalms that says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Because of the mysterious and intangible quality of intuition, it is the perfect place from which God can speak most clearly.  There is a great story in the Old Testament about the prophet Elijah.  As a result of being a zealous advocate for God, Elijah is a hunted man.  He hides in a cave and the Lord speaks to him and tells him to go outside the cave and to wait for him to pass.  Elijah witnesses strong enough storms to shake the mountains and cause rocks to fall, yet the Lord was not in the storm.  Afterwards there was an earthquake and then fire and the Lord was not present in these powerful acts of nature either.  Then Elijah heard a tiny whispering sound in the wind, and it was in the whispering where God was present, and it was from the whispering where he received direction.  Please don’t think I’m representing myself as a prophet: I’m not.  I have, however, taken the MMPI , busted my hump academically, read thousands of books and danced under the full moon naked—okay scratch that last example.  But like Elijah, I do believe God exists in the whispering, from deep down within me.   I am confident in this statement because I’ve learned to get out of my comfort zone and test the wisdom I receive from within and then watch the results.  At least at this point in my life I choose to listen to the presence and direction of God in the whispering—when I shut up long enough to listen

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