From Senior Teacher Michael Stroud: The Middle Way

After his enlightenment, the first thing the Buddha told his fellow monks was that he renounced the extremes of his former life as both a pampered prince and an ascetic.

Both, he said “are painful, unworthy and unprofitable.”

Instead, he advocated a Middle Way built around the Eightfold Path: right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

In other words, the right way to live was to find a middle ground between extremes.

To our modern mind, “right” calls to mind an ego-fueled belief; for example, “I am right and you are wrong.” (Some prefer to translate the Pali word samma as “wise” or “complete”, rather than “right”.)

That’s not what the Buddha meant. “Right” here is more akin to natural law, a universal constant we can all agree upon and tap into. We can all agree, for instance, that telling lies is wrong, and telling the truth is right; speaking ill of someone is wrong; a focused attention is better than scattered attention; and so on.

Meditation is a doorway into that Middle Way. We know intuitively that struggling to push away unwanted thoughts is counterproductive; so is getting lost in the story. Instead, we focus on allowing, neither pushing away nor holding on to thoughts as they arise and pass away.

As we learn to apply the Middle Way to our lives, we find it applies to every thought and every situation.

It’s not a belief or an opinion. It is, quite simply, what is.



View All Online Meditation Classes