Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance


In the Hopi language, the word Koyaanisqatsi means “unbalanced life.” In 1982, the word Koyaanisqatsi was used as the title of an interesting American experimental film directed by Godfrey Reggio, with music composed by Phillip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke. It depicted the different aspects of the relationship between humans, nature, and technology, and implied the unsettling disconnect that resulted from the ensuing chaos.

 Life Out of Balance. What does that mean to you? How does it affect your life?

Throughout history, and in many spiritual traditions, balance has played an important role in forming our current view of life. The Taoists depicted balance with the Taijitu, the Yin Yang symbol. Judaism had the Pillars of Solomon’s Temple––the basis of Kabbalism. Even in modern science we see the measurements of heat, tone, sound, vibrations and other continuum as composed of opposing forces.

As humans, we require balance for our everyday survival. Physically, we thrive best somewhere between the searing heat of the Sahara and the frigid cold of the Antarctica. Our comfort zone is found at an altitude midway between the tip of Mt. Everest and the depths of the ocean. In general, we crave and require the midway point between extremes––the balance point.

These extremes can also be viewed as opposites: male/female, up/down, hot/cold, like/dislike, war/peace and hate/love. These are just a few of the possibilities we encounter everyday. In general, an aggressive tendency is considered yang while the passive is called yin. Both are essential for balance to occur. I see the shadow of yin/yang in music as Yin being melody and Yang as rhythm.

In our world today, we are experiencing an imbalance of yin/yang energy. Our world is in chaos due to the over abundance of yang energy––––the male, aggressive, destructive force. Yang energy is as necessary as yin, but when out of control the results cause difficulty and despair. You may notice the imbalance in many other forms. Music, for example, is almost totally yang today, Whereas, in the past, say the 50’s through the 80’s, the melodic yin influence was stronger.

Today, yang energy is everywhere we look. Daily, we read news reports of shootings, murder, rape, molestations, cartels, cheating, lying and greed. We see it perpetrated by officials in government, by the church, the police, by gangs, white supremacists, terrorists, even by Democrats and Republicans––”unbalanced life.” Nature, as well, is reflecting Koyaanisqatsi: earthquakes, drought, fires, and super tornados.

For balance to return to the Earth and your life, there needs to be a nurturing of yin energy––the feminine principle. Yin energy is love, acceptance, joy, peace, understanding, tolerance and non-violence.

The same desire and need for balance we see in the external world reflects deep within us as well. Our bodies, being composed of vibrations, strive for balance to maintain not only our physical health, but also our happiness and our sense of the spiritual.

Yang foods, such as farm raised fish, hormone injected beef and poultry, modified corn, wheat, sugar and soy, along with processed meals both from stores and fast food outlets, cause imbalance that sets the stage for illnesses like cancer, arthritis, diabetes and more. Obesity will soon be the global norm. Obesity itself represents a yang form of body type: a form of aggressive posturing that reflects our fears and possibly our need for psychic body-armor. Negative thought and action are also forms of yang energy. They are just as destructive to our health as bullets and bombs.

Yet, balance is as easy to obtain as one would wish. It’s no different from imbalance. Balance is yin, Imbalance is yang––it’s like “on” and “off,” and it’s a matter of choice! Constantly choose to use love, acceptance, joy, peace, understanding, tolerance and non-violence: choose to add yin energy to your world.

Furthermore, by practicing breathing techniques, performing daily exercise, doing yoga or Qigong, running and meditating, you are developing yin energy. Changing your diet: to less alcohol, less tobacco, less red meat and more fruits and veggies, you are developing yin energy.

When you gain balance you’ll be less affected by the global chaos, for when you are in balance, the world is one step more toward balance––you are the world, we are the world. It can be no other way. Help make Koyaanisqatsi only a movie title, not a way of life! Find your balance and keep it!