The Middle Way is a Buddhist philosophy that has been around for centuries. It is based on the idea that there is a balance between extremes and that we can find happiness and peace in our lives by following the middle way. The teachings of the middle way can be applied to every aspect of our lives, from the way we eat and sleep to the way we handle difficult situations. In this blog post, we will explore some of the ways the middle way can help us live happier and more peaceful lives. We will also discuss some of the benefits of living based on these teachings and encourage readers to explore Buddhism and its teachings for themselves.
Introduction to the concept of the Middle Way and its meaning in Buddhism
When Siddhartha Gautama was young, he did not live the Middle Way. Rather, as a member of a royal family, he lived a life of extreme enjoyment. This meant that he experienced all the highlights that life had to offer. But somehow he did not feel fulfilled. It was only when he encountered a sick person, an old person and a dead person that he realized the transience of life and the suffering inherent in it. These encounters made him realize that the life he was leading was not the path to true happiness. As a result, he decided to leave his family, his friends and everything he knew and go to the forest to find a way to end suffering. Thus he began his journey to a holy life and eventually to enlightenment and the Middle Way.
Therefore, it is not surprising that Buddhist teachings are full of situations in which the Buddha explains what the term Middle Way means and why we should aspire to it. In the Pali Canon, there is a story in which a young man named Vimalakirti falls ill. His wife and friends want to take him to the doctor, but he refuses. Vimalakirti tells him that he will either get better or worse if he goes to the doctor, but either way his illness will make him suffer. He then explains that the middle way is not to seek or avoid anything, and that if we follow this way, we can find peace and happiness.
In Tibetan Buddhism, too, there is a story of Milarepa, a man who was born into a wealthy family but later renounced his material possessions to become a Buddhist monk. Milarepa was once asked by a disciple what the secret of happiness was, and he replied, "The secret of happiness is to live on the Middle Way." Milarepa explained that we only find suffering when we pursue things to excess, but when we avoid everything, we find suffering. In the Buddhist tradition, the Middle Way is to neither seek nor avoid anything, but to live in the present moment and accept whatever comes our way.
How Buddhism came into being
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy founded by Siddhartha Gautama, also known as Buddha, in the fifth century BC. Siddhartha Gautama was born into a wealthy family in what is now Nepal, living a sheltered life. At the age of 29, he left his luxurious life to investigate the truth about human suffering. After six years of study and deep meditation, he finally attained enlightenment, and the rest of Buddha's life story is history.
The Buddha's teachings spread like wildfire throughout Asia and eventually found their way to the West. In the centuries since its founding, Buddhism has undergone many changes, but at its core, the religion is still based on the teachings of the Buddha. One of the most important aspects of the Buddha's teachings is the Middle Way.
Why the Middle Way?
The term "Middle Way" refers to the idea that a balance must be found between extremes. This philosophy can be applied to every aspect of our lives, from the way we eat and sleep to the way we handle difficult situations - which is valuable, as we all know: There are so many things. The goal of the middle way is to find a balance between these two extremes in order to achieve happiness and peace.
Now you may be wondering why it should be necessary to refrain from extreme happiness and the like. For negative extremes, it's probably pretty obvious: if you live your life in a state of constant anger, hatred, and misery, it's unlikely that you'll be very happy. But the same is true of positive extremes. If you are constantly chasing pleasure and trying to avoid pain at all costs, you will never find true happiness. This is because the pursuit of pleasure is just another form of suffering. Also, you should keep in mind that things are constantly in motion. For example, if you are extremely wealthy and cling to that state, the loss of your wealth might be too much for you.
These are the reasons why the Buddha taught that the only way to true happiness is to find a balance between these two extremes.
What is true happiness?
While this is a very subjective matter, most people describe true happiness as something less intense than the happiness that comes from pleasant experiences. True happiness is more a feeling of contentment and peace. It is a constant feeling, not a sudden burst that cannot be sustained. It is the feeling that you are fine just the way you are, and that you don't need anything else to be happy. It doesn't mean that you can never have pleasant experiences, but it does mean that you don't need them.
As you can see, the Middle Way is not about living a life of luxury or total asceticism. It is about finding a balance between these two extremes. The Middle Way would be, for example, to eat healthy so that you feel good, but also to indulge yourself occasionally. Or working hard at your job, but also taking time for relaxation and leisure.
The Middle Way is about balance, and this philosophy can help us live happier and more peaceful lives - without sacrificing sensual pleasures.
What other paths are there in Buddhism?
In addition to the Middle Way, there are several other important aspects of the Buddha's teachings. For example, the four noble truths and the eightfold path. The four noble truths are:
- Suffering exists
- Suffering is caused by attachment
- Suffering can be ended
- There is a way to end suffering
Suffering plays a major role in the philosophy of Buddhism. To achieve happiness, we must first accept that suffering exists. Once we accept that, we can begin to let go of the things that make us suffer. In the Buddhist religion, the end of suffering is called nirvana. What exactly is nirvana? It is a state of perfect peace and bliss. It is the highest goal that a Buddhist can reach when he has succeeded in ending suffering.
The noble eightfold path is a set of guidelines that Buddhists can follow to end suffering. The eight aspects of the path are:
- Right understanding
- Right thinking
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Proper mindfulness
- Proper concentration
If you want to learn more about the Buddhist tradition of the noble eightfold path we recommend you to read this articlein which we take a closer look and who Gautama Buddha really was.
Tathagata teaches the Middle Way
The Buddha's most famous teaching on the Middle Way is the "Tathagata" discourse found in the Pāli Canon (the collection of early Buddhist scriptures). In this discourse, the Buddha explains that all beings are subject to birth, old age, illness, and death - or, in short, life.
He then goes on to say that the way to liberation from suffering is not through asceticism or self-indulgence, but through the middle way.
Buddha's teaching of the Middle Way means not only avoiding extremes, but also finding balance in all aspects of life. For example, in the Four Noble Truths - one of the most fundamental texts of Buddhism, which we looked at in the previous section.
The Tathagata was written by the Buddha himself, making it one of the most valuable sources for Buddhist understanding.
How the middle way can be applied in everyday life
Now that we have a better understanding of the Middle Way (as it is also called), let's explore some ways in which this philosophy can be applied to our daily lives.
One way in which the middle way can help us is by teaching us how to deal with difficult situations. The middle way teaches us that there is always a balance, even in the most difficult situations. For example, if we are faced with a difficult decision, the middle way would be to take our time, weigh all the options, and make the decision that is best for us, rather than making a hasty decision that we may later regret.
Another way in which the middle way can help us is by teaching us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions. The middle way teaches us that every thought and action has the potential to cause suffering, and that we should be careful not to cause suffering to others. For example, if we are angry with someone, the middle way is to find a constructive way to express our anger rather than lashing out in a way that only hurts the other person.
The Middle Way is a powerful philosophy that can help us live happier and more peaceful lives. If you are interested in exploring Buddhism further, there are many resources on the internet and in your local community.
Living a life on the middle path can bring many benefits. It can help us avoid suffering because we are not constantly chasing after things we want or running away from things we don't want. It can also help us develop deeper relationships because we are better able to see both sides of every issue. Finally, it can help us find inner peace because we are not constantly trying to achieve or maintain an ideal state.
How Relationships Are Viewed in Buddhist Philosophy, we look at in this article.
Examples of how to find middle ground in challenging situations
One of the most challenging situations we can experience is when we are faced with a decision. We may feel pulled in two different directions and it can be difficult to know what to do. In these situations, it is important to take a step back and consider all of our options. We should also think about what our long-term goals are and what will bring us the most joy. This way we can make sure that we are making the best decision for ourselves and not just following our feelings.
Here are five examples of challenging situations where the Middle Way can help you greatly:
- You're thinking about whether or not to end a relationship.
- You're thinking about changing jobs.
- You're struggling with an addiction.
- You're dealing with a difficult family situation.
- You're facing an important life decision.
In each of these situations, it is important that you take the time to consider the teachings of the Buddha. Think about all your options and make the decision that is best for you. The Middle Way can help you do this by teaching you to be mindful of your thoughts and actions, and by helping you find a balance between different options.
If you read this far, you probably realize: the concept of the Middle Way is simple, but applying it is anything but easy. It requires us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions and to find a balance between different options. However, the benefits of living a life based on the Middle Way are worth the effort. If you are interested in exploring Buddhism further, there are many resources on the internet and in your community. I encourage you to check them out (you can find a selection of resources below)!
It is important to take the time to practice because, as with all things, we need to practice the right behaviors. Or to put it in Buddha's words:
"Practice resolutely to attain peace."Buddha
With this and the following quote, Buddha describes how important it is that we take care of ourselves:
"No one can save us except ourselves. No one can and no one must. We ourselves must go the way."Buddha
Discussion of the benefits of living a life based on the teachings of the Middle Way
A life based on the teachings of the Middle Way can bring many benefits. It can help us avoid suffering, as we are not constantly chasing after things we want or running away from things we don't want. It can also help us develop deeper relationships, as we are better able to see both sides of every issue. Finally, it can help us find inner peace because we are not constantly trying to achieve or maintain an ideal state.
How it can help us avoid suffering
One of the main goals of Buddhism is to end suffering. And the Middle Way is an important part of that goal. When we walk the Middle Way, we can let go of our attachment to things. This can be difficult because we often cling to things that make us happy. But when we are attached to things, we also suffer when they are taken away from us. So if we follow the Middle Way, we can learn to let go of our attachment to all kinds of things and find true happiness.
How it can also help us develop deeper relationships
When we are able to see both sides of every issue, we can better understand the people around us. We can also see how our own actions might affect them. In this way, we can build deeper and more meaningful relationships with the people in our lives.
How it can help us find inner peace
If we constantly try to achieve or maintain an ideal state, we will never be truly satisfied. However, if we learn to accept things as they are, we will find inner peace. And the Middle Way can help us do that.
Chan Buddhism, a school of Buddhism, is called the "Way of Liberation" and the Middle Way is called the "Key to Chan Practice". It teaches that "the way lies in the middle, not in the extremes." In other words: We should not try to get rid of all our desires (that would be impossible and would also lead to much suffering), but neither should we let our desires control us. We should find the middle way between these two extremes.
One of the main goals of Chan Buddhism is to end suffering. And the Middle Way is an important part of that goal.
The Middle Way is not a new idea, but it is one that has been forgotten by many people in the modern world. If we rediscover the Middle Way, we can learn to live a more balanced and happy life.
Further historical background
In early Buddhism (which is originally an Indian philosophy), the Five Ascetics were a group of monks who followed the teachings of Gautama Buddha. They were known for their extreme asceticism, which included self-mortification and extreme fasting.
The Buddha initially belonged to this group, but later rejected their practices and extreme views. Instead, the Buddha imparted the Middle Way view to his disciples, teaching first that we should acknowledge that all kinds of things exist in life and that they are causally related in some way. Either one should acknowledge the existence of all things or at least accept it.
Also, a Buddhist scholar named Nagarjuna later formalized the Middle Way view in his treatises of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism.
Nowadays, the Middle Way is often called "The Middle Path" or "The Noble Eightfold Path. It is still an important part of Buddhist teachings and practice.
Here you can find an article about 11 Influential Buddhist Philosophers.
Why you should explore Buddhism and its teachings for yourself
If you are interested in exploring the Middle Way further, there are many resources available online and in bookstores. Buddhism is a rich and complex tradition, and the Middle Way is just one of its many teachings. We encourage you to explore the religion and its philosophy for yourself and see how it can help you live a happier and more peaceful life.
A few good sources are:
- The Dhammapada: A collection of Buddhist scriptures that teach the middle way (it is also a good introduction to Buddhist philosophy in general).
- The Buddha's Teachings on the Middle Way: A book that explores the concept of the middle way in detail (it was written by a Buddhist monk, so it is very accessible).
– Finding the Middle Way: A website that offers resources and advice for living the middle way (it includes articles, audio recordings, and a forum where you can ask questions and connect with other people interested in the middle way)
– The company of the middle way: A society that promotes the study and practice of the Middle Way (it offers courses, retreats, and other events that you can attend to learn more about the Middle Way)
– The Meditation Center Middle Way: A center that offers meditation courses and retreats based on the Middle Way (it is located in the UK, but they also offer online courses).
If you are interested in exploring the Middle Way further, there are many more resources on the Internet, in your community, and in books.
By following the Middle Way, we can avoid suffering, develop deeper relationships, and find inner peace. If you are interested in exploring the Buddha's Middle Way further, we encourage you to explore Buddhism and its teachings for yourself. Thank you for reading!
If you have any questions or additions, feel free to leave a comment below. We are always happy to talk about the middle ground 🙂 .
Namaste. (This is a Sanskrit word meaning "I bow to you" or "The light in me honors the light in you.")
If you are looking for more ways to benefit from Buddhist Philosophy, you can the C.A.L.M method with which you can achieve your goals.