The Middle Road

The Middle Road, more traditionally known as the Middle Way, or the Middle Path, is the practice of non-extremism. This practice has been a part of many disciplines for centuries around the world. Those who master the road or way are called 'enlightened'.

As stated in this passage from the Pali Canon ( Samyutta Nikaya's Kaccāyanagotta Sutta):
"'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...."

In everyday life situations, this can be practiced through the perspective you use to watch events unfold. It is a state of awareness that can sound paradoxical when described. It's like looking in opposite directions at once. You give attention to your surroundings and present situations, yet simultaneously stay focused on how you feel and the thought processes (or lack there of) going on. In other words, you are looking out and looking in.

This perspective slows the mind. Whenever we give our attention to our mind and/or our breathing, they will slow down. Our awareness is present like always but we watch the amount of thoughts passing slow down. Of course this attention can only be given in the present moment and aligns your awareness with the present moment. In this frame of consciousness, extremes fall away.

Extremes are resorted to in stressful situations. Ego threatened thought produces stress. When a person slows or eliminates excessive thoughts, they can effectively slow or eliminate stress. No extremes. The middle road. The middle way.

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Val said...

When you walk on middle ground you're able to see the peaks and the valleys ... the peaks don't seem so high and valleys don't seem so low from the middle ground perspective...

But, man, change it around and boom! Look how far away the peak looks when you're walking in the valley! And look how far away the valley looks when you're on top of the peak! Neither seem within reach when you're at one extreme or the other...

Liara Covert said...

Every human being can suddenly recall that extremes do not exist, just like many assumptions are unfounded. People do not evolve so much as wake up to what thye have always known but temporarily forgot.

Ta-Wan said...

a nice post

bometernally said...

This post brought to mind the saying of "Neti Neti", which means Not this, Not this. The following is from part of the Wikipedia on the phrase:

The significance of neti neti
In Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, god is questioned by his students to describe God. He states "The Divine is not this and it is not that" (neti, neti).

Thus, the Divine is not real as we are real, nor is it unreal. The divine is not living in the sense humans live, nor is it dead. The Divine is not compassionate as we use the term, nor is it uncompassionate. And so on. We can never truly define God in words. All we can say, in effect, is that "It isn't this, but also, it isn't that either". In the end, the student must transcend words to understand the nature of the Divine.

In this sense, neti-neti is not a denial. Rather, it is an assertion that whatever the Divine may be, when we attempt to capture it in human words, we must inevitably fall short, because we are limited in understanding, and words are limited in ability to express the transcendent. The original texts shed light on the practice of neti neti as a tool to Self-realisation aka Brahman.


Hope this makes sense as an analogy to The Middle Road.

Thanks for the post and love how you present it. {:-)

Gail said...

Wonderful post. :-) I so appreciate words written that flow, and are easy to absorb.

I find it interesting because, my word I use is 'neutral' which can be understood as "middle of the road'. I have said, when asked, "I mean no extremes, no high, highs, and no, low, lows. I practice neutrality. Some days or moments it is easier said than done - but certainly a place worth striving for, regardless. So, thanks for putting in to words what I have been saying/doing in a very eloquent and understandable way.

Love Gail

Mark said...

Very true, walking the middle path allows us to have a fuller perspective and avoids extremes and the stress which is caused by living in extremes.

C. Om said...

Beautifully illustrated. The middle road includes the best of both worlds and excludes the (extremes) worst of both.

True indeed! We are more reminded and reintroduced to experience than learning it.

Thanks man.

'Neti neti' does make sense here. Thank you for the insight! :-)

I appreciate your appreciation Gail.
Another way this perspective can be described is 'detached'. We can be detached from a worldly view and still feel connected to everything in it (paradoxically).


Anonymous said...

We can learn to embrace our perspective or point of view upon the spectrum of life. We can modify and change and evolve our point of view. We can merge with other point of views. Or we can surrender our way and have no way at all. It seems like the ways are endless and probably flow and circulate in a circle. So perhaps Liara may be right, extremes may be an illusion since we are only comparing something based on what we are perceiving, which isn't very much.

C. Om said...

*Natural Moments
Very true. It is funny how convinced we tend to be of our extremes not realizing that because our perspective is limited, extremes are illusions created by our limits.

Thank you for visiting!