The Middle Way

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
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Sumano
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The Middle Way

Postby Sumano » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:38 am

I just came across a sutta (SN 12.17) that says that Dependent Origination is the Middle Way, avoiding eternalism and annihilationism.

I didn't know that. I thought only the Noble Eightfold Path was the Middle Way.

Does the 'Middle Way' mean anything else besides these?
I am on the path, however not yet advanced. Any opinions or insights I share are meant entirely for discussion purposes and in cases where people might find them beneficial in whatever way. Since I am not advanced on the Path, I cannot guarantee that what I say will always necessarily be 100% true or in line with the Dhamma. However, having had an extremely interesting life with a wide variety of different (many of them deep) experiences, I hope that anything I share will be of use, provide food for thought, and inspire interesting and beneficial discussions.

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Paññāsikhara
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Paññāsikhara » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:51 am

Stefan wrote:I just came across a sutta (SN 12.17) that says that Dependent Origination is the Middle Way, avoiding eternalism and annihilationism.

I didn't know that. I thought only the Noble Eightfold Path was the Middle Way.

Does the 'Middle Way' mean anything else besides these?


To be kind of nit-picky, it actually says "ubho ante anupagamma majjhena tathāgato dhammaṃ deseti" = "not going to two extremes, the tathagata teaches the dhamma through the middle", it does not use the term "way" = paṭipadā.

The more common reference you are probably referring to has "ubho ante anupagamma majjhimā paṭipadā tathāgatena abhisambuddhā cakkhukaraṇī ñāṇakaraṇī upasamāya abhiññāya sambodhāya nibbānāya saṃvattati" = "without going to two extremes, the tathagata has awakened to the middle way ..."

I have heard Prof Karunadasa state that the eightfold path is the "middle way" = majjhimā paṭipadā, and dependent origination is the "middle teaching" = majjhimā desana. This is an interesting perspective.

But, if we are going to focus on the meaning of "middle" majjhimā, then yes, there are several different uses of the term. Look in particular throughout the Nidanasamyutta, which shows a range of extremes, either two-fold or four-fold in presentation. Dep orig is then used to explain things without going to these extremes.
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mikenz66
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby mikenz66 » Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:09 pm

Hi Venerable,

Thank you for your explanation. I guess we can take the case of Sati the Fisherman as an example of refuting an eternal consciousness (one extreme) with dependent origination?
MN 38. Mahātaṇhāsankhaya Sutta
http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=2130
Then the Blessed One said: "Sati, is it true, that such an pernicious view has arisen to you. ‘As I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else’?"

"Yes, venerable sir, as I know the Teaching of the Blessed One, this consciousness transmigrates through existences, not anything else."

"Sati, what is that consciousness?"

"Venerable sir, it is that which feels and experiences, that which reaps the results of good and evil actions done here and there."

"Foolish man, to whom do you know me having taught the Dhamma like this. Haven’t I taught, in various ways that consciousness is dependently arisen. Without a cause, there is no arising of consciousness. Yet you, foolish man, on account of your wrong view, you misrepresent me, as well as destroy yourself and accumulate much demerit, for which you will suffer for a long time."

Metta
Mike


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