The middle path or middle way is regarded as one of the first teachings of the Buddha after achieving enlightenment. It proposes the idea that peace, serenity and truth are achieved through living a moderate life free from extremes.
Having been raised in a palace of opulence the Buddha grew up indulging all earthly pleasures but soon came to realise the dissatisfaction that arises from unbridled hedonism. Equally on his journey to enlightenment he also followed the ascetic path, which involved depriving the body of all comfort and sustenance, disregarding the need for food and sleep in the pursuit of spiritual liberation.
However, the Buddha upon achieving enlightenment claimed that real freedom cannot be found in the extremes but is instead found in the harmony between contradictions. This philosophy does not just apply to the opposing forces of hedonism and self-denial, it can be applied to many areas of life. To me it emphasises the importance of the person who is able to sit in the middle and consider and understand all positions. In our own culture of extremes this is often perceived as a negative trait, the person who ‘sits on the fence’, but really there is great power in a person who is able to hear all sides and stay moderate, they are our mediators, carving out peace between opposing forces. Equally in our daily lives we understand the depression and illness that can come with excessive consumption of indulgent food or alcohol but equally can find ourselves becoming pompous or self-absorbed if we take our health too seriously without indulging joy. Life is a balance and the Buddha believed that we can find the sweet spot by riding the middle.
THE MIDDLE PATH
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