The Middle Way

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The Middle Way

Postby Tragition » Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:51 pm

From what I understand, Buddha taught the "Middle Way." This being moderation between the extremes of a worldly lifestyle and that of an ascetic. However, the precepts that a monk lives under seem much more like that of an ascetic than the middle way. For example, a vow of poverty seems like an extreme, not the middle way. A vow of celibacy also seems extreme.

Perhaps, moderation and the middle way is subjective to one's own experiences. But from my point of view, the life of a monk does not seem like the middle way. Can someone please help me understand?
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby plwk » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:59 pm

Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

Anguttara-Nikaya: Ekanipata: Ekadhammapali: Pañhamavagga
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby David N. Snyder » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:37 pm

Tragition wrote:Perhaps, moderation and the middle way is subjective to one's own experiences. But from my point of view, the life of a monk does not seem like the middle way. Can someone please help me understand?


What is Middle Way then might be seen as ascetic now, by today's standards. For example,in the Buddha's time it was not un-common for ascetics to go naked (to shed all material wealth, even clothes), whereas the Buddha insisted that the monks and nuns wear robes and he shunned nudity.

The Buddha did not reject all forms of asceticism and praised some practices, such as the forest dwelling monks, rag-wearing, and other things.

And Middle Way does not necessarily mean "a little of this and a little of that" otherwise for example, it might be considered okay to do a 'little' intoxicants or a 'little' killing.
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:17 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:39 pm

Tragition wrote:From what I understand, Buddha taught the "Middle Way." This being moderation between the extremes of a worldly lifestyle and that of an ascetic. However, the precepts that a monk lives under seem much more like that of an ascetic than the middle way. For example, a vow of poverty seems like an extreme, not the middle way. A vow of celibacy also seems extreme.

Perhaps, moderation and the middle way is subjective to one's own experiences. But from my point of view, the life of a monk does not seem like the middle way. Can someone please help me understand?


The life of a monk might seem quite extreme compared with your life, however if you compare it with the lifestyle of the average farmer in rural India both 2500 years ago and today not so much.
"Whenever we feel that we are definitely right, so much so that we refuse to open up to anything or anybody else, right there we are wrong. It becomes wrong view. When suffering arises, where does it arise from? The cause is wrong view, the fruit of that being suffering. If it was right view it wouldn't cause suffering." - Ajahn Chah
"Remember you dont meditate to get anything, but to get rid of things. We do it, not with desire, but with letting go. If you want anything, you wont find it." - Ajahn Chah
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Hanzze » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:42 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Tue Feb 01, 2011 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Individual » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:56 pm

Tragition wrote:From what I understand, Buddha taught the "Middle Way." This being moderation between the extremes of a worldly lifestyle and that of an ascetic. However, the precepts that a monk lives under seem much more like that of an ascetic than the middle way. For example, a vow of poverty seems like an extreme, not the middle way. A vow of celibacy also seems extreme.

Perhaps, moderation and the middle way is subjective to one's own experiences. But from my point of view, the life of a monk does not seem like the middle way. Can someone please help me understand?

Middle Way means not abusing oneself and not indulging in sensual desire -- not a compromise between going with and against the standards of the day, or adopting a new arbitrary set of standards just because someone of renown said so.

He adopted rules for monks because they were either conducive to liberation or to the stability of the Sangha.

With a vow of poverty, it's ensured that there are no quarrels or problems over wealth. And with a vow of celibacy, it's ensured that there are no quarrels or problems over sex. What's the need for having these things if they can be a basis for craving?

In my humble opinion, if monks didn't have food to eat or homes to sleep in, then yes, the vow of poverty could be reviewed. And if there were so few monks in the world that they dwindle in number, again, the vow of celibacy could also be reviewed too. But that's not the case right now, so there is no basis to question it.
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:28 am

The middle was is not a little bit of killing and a little bit of drinking intoxicants... This is a later elaboration just for the sake of ease.

The middle way is not the way to live a comfortable life.

The middle way is an approach the Buddha discovered to reach liberation.

As to what and what not to do in such a 'middle way', read a description of the Noble Eightfold Path.

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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Prasadachitta » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:27 pm

Tragition wrote:From what I understand, Buddha taught the "Middle Way." This being moderation between the extremes of a worldly lifestyle and that of an ascetic. However, the precepts that a monk lives under seem much more like that of an ascetic than the middle way. For example, a vow of poverty seems like an extreme, not the middle way. A vow of celibacy also seems extreme.

Perhaps, moderation and the middle way is subjective to one's own experiences. But from my point of view, the life of a monk does not seem like the middle way. Can someone please help me understand?


Hello Tragition,

In my understanding the Buddha was not talking about moderation in how we pursue the goal of awakening. The goal of awakening is to be diligently pursued by engaging in practices the Buddha advised. What the the Buddha intended to moderate was the views which we hold. Here is a quote.

"Everything exists': That is one extreme. 'Everything doesn't exist': That is a second extreme. Avoiding these two extremes, the Tathagata teaches the Dhamma via the middle"

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn12/sn12.015.than.html

Take care

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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Vepacitta » Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:52 am

The middle way - not eternalism - not nihhilism.

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Re: The Middle Way

Postby ground » Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:06 pm

The actual meaning of "the middle way" is to practice the wholesome while at the same time not clinging to it. Or: Not clinging to the wholesome while at the same time not neglecting it.


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Re: The Middle Way

Postby rowyourboat » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:26 am

"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.

"And what is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding? Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Jan 22, 2011 1:18 pm

rowyourboat wrote:"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.

"And what is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding? Precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the middle way realized by the Tathagata that — producing vision, producing knowledge — leads to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html


Greetings, Row. :anjali:

It is always interesting to me that hundreds of pages of posts in many, many online Buddhist threads miss relating this very passage, which precisely describes what Buddha meant by The Middle Way. Seems like Buddhism 101, but perhaps it is the nature of the online Buddhist forum which promotes conversation first rather than study first. Imagine what colleges would be like if students did what we do here rather than studying, listening to lectures, asking questions, and then engaging in conversation.

There is a saying in twelve step recovery groups for newcomers and the terminally clueless, who haven't quite grasped what brought them there in the first place.: "Take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it into your mouth." Which says two things: "Listen and read. You might learn something." ...and.."You have no rationalizations and misconceptions to offer, which everyone else here hasn't heard multiple times already."

Then there is the online Buddhist who read a book once, attended a lecture, or had a thought once and instantly become teachers, the self-ordained and self proclaimed experts and gurus. In college this is known as being sophomoric. Those who do/did this are/were called "sopho-morons", usually by Freshmen. :jumping: The same thing happens on online forums constantly.

The online style which I personally most admire and appreciate, is the style of citing what suttas record as to Buddha's precise words in his teachings, including links for further study, just as you have done.

Thank you. :anjali:
What Makes an Elder? :
A head of gray hairs doesn't mean one's an elder. Advanced in years, one's called an old fool.
But one in whom there is truth, restraint, rectitude, gentleness,self-control, he's called an elder, his impurities disgorged, enlightened.
-Dhammpada, 19, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Sacha G » Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:21 pm

Hi
As I understand, the middle way is avoiding (sensual) pleasure, while not seeking pain.
According to this criterion, not many are in the middle way. :anjali:
Pali and Theravada texts:
http://dhamma.webnode.com
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby Sacha G » Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:24 pm

Now a question pops up in my mind.
Is there a connexion between the middle way as tought by the Buddha in the 1st sermon, and the middle way avoiding eternalism and annihilation.
I would suggest that the proponents of annihilation indulge in sensual pleasures, while the proponents of an atman practice self-mortification.
Does that make sense?
:tongue:
Pali and Theravada texts:
http://dhamma.webnode.com
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Re: The Middle Way

Postby rowyourboat » Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:00 am

Hi SachaG

You may well be right! Those who didnt believe in karma also went about doing all kinds of negative things, acting quite destructively. They thought it wouldn't matter if they killed or helped thousands of people 'up and down the Ganges'.

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