How to find the middle way in different situations ?

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How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby purple planet » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:29 pm

Where is the middle way in different life situations ?

for example : when is it that its to much time in meditation - cause i can start now and do 14 hours of meditation and then i wouldnt want to meditate again for half a year - when do i know its too much ?
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:51 pm

purple planet wrote:When do i know its too much ?

When you attain Arahantship, then you know that you already did enough. Until then, just do as much as you can.
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Aloka » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:08 pm

purple planet wrote:Where is the middle way in different life situations ?

for example : when is it that its to much time in meditation - cause i can start now and do 14 hours of meditation and then i wouldnt want to meditate again for half a year - when do i know its too much ?


As far as meditation is concerned, my suggestion would be to go to a weekly Buddhist meditation class and get some instruction for your practice.
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:15 am

I don't think "middle way" should be interpreted as just taking an average between this and that. It's much more radical than that. Here are some extracts from a post you can find here: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 93#p193291
mikenz66 wrote:Here's a quote from Bhikkhu Bodhi on the "Middle Way".
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11269&p=170881&hilit=middle+way#p170881
mikenz66 wrote:Comments by Bhikkhu Bodhi from In the Buddha's Words.

Several suttas hold up dependent origination as a "teaching by the middle" (majjhena tahagato dhammam deseti). It is a "teaching by the middle" because it transcends two extremes that polarize philosophical reflection on the human condition....

Ajahns Amaro and Pasanno:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=11269&p=170881&hilit=middle+way#p170881
Although these passages portray the Middle Way as balancing two ends of a
continuum, there are other instances where the Buddha defines the Middle Way as a
precise approach that cuts through the continuum entirely. This is especially apparent
in passages where he discusses the Middle Way in terms, not of behavior or
motivation, but of Right View. The Buddha often stresses the radical importance of
Right View:
...

...

:anjali:
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby SarathW » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:19 am

There is no middle way!
You set your objective and strive until you achieve it.
Obviously you will find the middle ground when you become an Ariya.
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby kmath » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:19 am

mikenz66 wrote:I don't think "middle way" should be interpreted as just taking an average between this and that. It's much more radical than that.


I was thinking that too -- the Middle Way has a very specific meaning for the Buddha. That said, I believe the OP meant to ask more like: how do I find a balance?
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:24 am

kmath wrote: That said, I believe the OP meant to ask more like: how do I find a balance?

It's a fair question, but balance really has nothing to do with the "middle way" described in the suttas.
Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
http://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/

In the rest of the sutta he's clearly not talking about a "middle way" that consists of balancing a pinch of "pursuit of sensual happiness" with a dash of "pursuit of self-mortification".

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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby kmath » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:29 am

mikenz66 wrote:
kmath wrote: That said, I believe the OP meant to ask more like: how do I find a balance?

It's a fair question, but balance really has nothing to do with the "middle way" described in the suttas.
Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
http://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/

In the rest of the sutta he's clearly not talking about a "middle way" that consists of balancing a pinch of "pursuit of sensual happiness" with a dash of "pursuit of self-mortification".

:anjali:
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I totally agree. People use the term incorrectly.
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby purple planet » Thu Dec 12, 2013 5:51 am

kmath wrote: That said, I believe the OP meant to ask more like: how do I find a balance?


It's a fair question, but balance really has nothing to do with the "middle way" described in the suttas.

Bhikkhus, these two extremes should not be followed by one who has gone forth into homelessness. What two? The pursuit of sensual happiness in sensual pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of worldlings, ignoble, unbeneficial; and the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, unbeneficial. Without veering towards either of these extremes, the Tathagata has awakened to the middle way, which gives rise to vision, which gives rise to knowledge, which leads to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.
http://suttacentral.net/sn56.11/en/


In the rest of the sutta he's clearly not talking about a "middle way" that consists of balancing a pinch of "pursuit of sensual happiness" with a dash of "pursuit of self-mortification".

:anjali:


thanks mike and thanks kmath for clarifying what i was asking

so i guess the middle way isnt addressing this issue- so i will reask :

how do I find a balance?

for example : when is it that its to much time in meditation - cause i can start now and do 14 hours of meditation and then i wouldnt want to meditate again for half a year - when do i know its too much ?
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Chi » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:03 am

purple planet wrote:for example : when is it that its to much time in meditation - cause i can start now and do 14 hours of meditation and then i wouldnt want to meditate again for half a year - when do i know its too much ?


The underlying idea meditation is somehow painful or unbearable might be worth investigating. What makes you think you meditating one whole day will make you not want to meditate again for 6 months? Maybe you might decide it's worth spending more time in meditation. Have you considered meditating with a group once or twice a week? Or going to a free 10-day retreat with Goenkaji (dhamma.org)? Why not just see what happens after 14 hours of meditation instead of speculating?

A couple of quotes regarding the importance of meditation:

"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom." -- The Buddha
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Gautama_Buddha

"Practice now. Don't think you will do more tomorrow" -- Dipa Ma, Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master

I asked my first teacher, "do you meditate?" He replied, "Isn't life a meditation?"

Be Happy!
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby purple planet » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:58 am

hi chi thats a good post - but just to clarify - that was just an example

i did meditate for 8 hours a day for a long time at home - but for instance i have back pain - and while somtimes i did the 8 hours a day meditation ...

..sometimes i couldnt do 1 hour meditation without getting back pain after that - but could do for instance 15 hour meditation each day for days - so what is better ? if i do as much as i can i will end up with back pain and no meditation - but how do i know where is the line ? i might say maybe 15 minutes is not as bad as 1 hour but maybe i should give up 15 minutes also - or maybe i can do 1 hour maybe i can even do 2 and should ignore the pain - but 3 will be to much
Please send merit to my dog named Mika who has passed away - thanks in advance
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Chi » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:00 am

purple planet wrote:hi chi thats a good post - but just to clarify - that was just an example

i did meditate for 8 hours a day for a long time at home - but for instance i have back pain - and while somtimes i did the 8 hours a day meditation ...

..sometimes i couldnt do 1 hour meditation without getting back pain after that - but could do for instance 15 hour meditation each day for days - so what is better ? if i do as much as i can i will end up with back pain and no meditation - but how do i know where is the line ? i might say maybe 15 minutes is not as bad as 1 hour but maybe i should give up 15 minutes also - or maybe i can do 1 hour maybe i can even do 2 and should ignore the pain - but 3 will be to much


Hi Purple,

From my very limited experience, I would say do your best, but don't hurt your body. Take care of the body. Be kind to yourself. Work with the conditions of your life without trying to change how the body is. We have no control over how kamma manifests itself in this moment. We don't have to push ourselves to fulfill our own image as a good meditator. You don't have to "do" meditation to be a kind, virtuous person.

Meditation does not have to be formal all the time. We can observe the Three Characteristics in every moment of our lives regardless of our body posture. How about walking meditation? Or lying meditation until you fall asleep, always bringing the mind back to whatever your meditation object is?

Be Happy!
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Dec 13, 2013 12:58 pm

purple planet wrote:hi chi thats a good post - but just to clarify - that was just an example

i did meditate for 8 hours a day for a long time at home - but for instance i have back pain - and while somtimes i did the 8 hours a day meditation ...

..sometimes i couldnt do 1 hour meditation without getting back pain after that - but could do for instance 15 hour meditation each day for days - so what is better ? if i do as much as i can i will end up with back pain and no meditation - but how do i know where is the line ? i might say maybe 15 minutes is not as bad as 1 hour but maybe i should give up 15 minutes also - or maybe i can do 1 hour maybe i can even do 2 and should ignore the pain - but 3 will be to much


Be careful that you don't hurt yourself. Chronic pain sucks.

There are these two extremes that are not to be indulged in by one who has gone forth. Which two? That which is devoted to sensual pleasure with reference to sensual objects: base, vulgar, common, ignoble, unprofitable; and that which is devoted to self-affliction: painful, ignoble, unprofitable. Avoiding both of these extremes, the middle way realized by the Tathagata — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.
-SN 56.11
Peace,
James
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Anagarika » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:32 pm

One thought that I come back to is the teaching found in the Sona Sutta AN 6.55:

"Now what do you think, Sona. Before, when you were a house-dweller, were you skilled at playing the vina?"
"Yes, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too taut, was your vina in tune & playable?"
"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were too loose, was your vina in tune & playable?"
"No, lord."

"And what do you think: when the strings of your vina were neither too taut nor too loose, but tuned[1] to be right on pitch, was your vina in tune & playable?"
"Yes, lord."

"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune[2]the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."

Part of the middle way seems to me to be the understanding that, for example, attention to sensuality is one extreme, and self mortification is another; extremes are usually never wise. The center or median may or may not be the wisest position. The Middle Way, gained from an effort at seeking the "right pitch," comes from practice, cultivation of wisdom, and reliance on skillful teachers and skillful approaches to meditation. Just as with a string instrument, finding the right pitch in terms of practice, attitude and behavior takes right effort, and reliable points of reference. Once tuned, one can then see if the approach results in skillful/liberating outcomes; if not, retune and try again.
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby kmath » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:49 pm

purple planet wrote:i did meditate for 8 hours a day for a long time at home


8 hours?! Just at home?? I mean, I don't know who these other people are on the forum, but I'd say that's way too much, especially if you're getting back pain. This isn't the meditation olympics or something.

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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby purple planet » Fri Dec 13, 2013 4:00 pm

I didnt do it much - and latley i dont even do 20 minutes - when i did the 8 hours my back didnt hurt
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 8:00 pm

BuddhaSoup wrote:"In the same way, Sona, over-aroused persistence leads to restlessness, overly slack persistence leads to laziness. Thus you should determine the right pitch for your persistence, attune[2]the pitch of the [five] faculties [to that], and there pick up your theme."

Yes, I think this balancing of the faculties is what the OP is about. Not the middle way. As I said above, viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19353#p271054 the suttas don't tell us to balance a pinch of "pursuit of sensual happiness" with a dash of "pursuit of self-mortification".

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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby Mkoll » Sat Dec 14, 2013 12:40 am

mikenz66 wrote:Yes, I think this balancing of the faculties is what the OP is about. Not the middle way. As I said above, viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19353#p271054 the suttas don't tell us to balance a pinch of "pursuit of sensual happiness" with a dash of "pursuit of self-mortification".

:anjali:
Mike


For what it's worth, the Visudhimagga had something to say about balancing the 5 faculties.

5. The Balance of the Faculties

[According to the Visuddhimagga, the balance of the faculties (indriya-samatta) is one of the ten kinds of skill in absorption (appana-kosalla), and it is one of the seven things that lead to the arising of the enlightenment factor "investigation of (material and mental) phenomena" (dhammavicaya-sambojjhanga).]

Imparting balance to the faculties is the equalizing of the controlling faculties of faith, vigor, mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. For if the faith faculty is strong and the others weak, then the vigor faculty cannot perform its function of exerting, the mindfulness faculty its function of attending to the object, the concentration faculty its function of excluding distraction, the wisdom faculty its function of seeing. So the (excessive) strength of the faith faculty should be reduced by reflecting on the phenomenal nature (of faith and its objects), and by not paying attention to what has caused the excessive strength of the faith faculty. Then if the vigor faculty is too strong, the faith faculty cannot perform its function of convincing, nor can the rest of the faculties perform their several functions. So in that case the excessive strength of the vigor faculty should be reduced by cultivating (the enlightenment factors of) tranquillity, concentration and equanimity. So, too, with the other factors, for it should be understood that when any one of them is too strong the others cannot perform their several functions.

However, what is particularly recommended is the balancing of faith with wisdom, and concentration with vigor. For one who is strong in faith and weak in wisdom places his confidence foolishly in an unworthy object. One strong in wisdom and weak in faith errs on the side of cunning and is as hard to cure as a sickness caused by medicine. But with the balancing of the two, faith and wisdom, a man has confidence only in a deserving object.

If there is too much of concentration and too little of vigor, the mind will be overpowered by indolence to which concentration inclines. But if vigor is too strong and concentration too weak, the mind will be overpowered by agitation to which vigor inclines. But concentration coupled with vigor cannot lapse into indolence, and vigor coupled with concentration cannot lapse into agitation. So these two should be balanced; for absorption comes with the balancing of the two.

Again (concentration and faith should be balanced). One working on concentration needs strong faith, since it is with such faith and confidence that he reaches absorption.

As to (the balancing of) concentration and wisdom, one working on concentration (i.e., who practices tranquillity; samatha) needs strong one-pointedness of mind, since that is how he reaches full absorption; and one working on insight (vipassana) needs strong wisdom, since that is how he reaches penetration of (the phenomena's) characteristics; but with the balancing of the two he reaches full absorption as well.

Strong mindfulness, however, is needed in all instances; for mindfulness protects the mind from lapsing into agitation through faith, vigor and wisdom, which tend to agitation, and from lapsing into indolence through concentration, which tends to indolence. So it is as desirable in all instances as a seasoning of salt in all curries, as a prime minister in all the king's business. Hence it is said (in the commentaries): "It was declared by the Exalted One that 'mindfulness, indeed, is of universal use.' Why? Because the mind has mindfulness as its refuge, and mindfulness is manifested as protection, and there is no exertion and restraint of the mind without mindfulness."

— Visuddhimagga, (pp.129-30), Adapted from Bhikkhu Ñanamoli's translation: The Path of Purification, pp.135-36
Peace,
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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Dec 14, 2013 1:13 am

Mkoll wrote:For what it's worth, the Visudhimagga had something to say about balancing the 5 faculties.

Yes, that's very useful advice...

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Re: How to find the middle way in different situations ?

Postby kmath » Sat Dec 14, 2013 2:51 am

Mkoll wrote:One strong in wisdom and weak in faith errs on the side of cunning and is as hard to cure as a sickness caused by medicine.


Love that line.
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