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MIDDLE WAY

 
The primary guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way which was discovered by the Buddha prior to his enlightenment (bodhi). The Middle Way or Middle Path has several definitions:
  • It is often described as the practice of non-extremism; a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and opposing self-mortification.
  • It also refers to taking a middle ground between certain metaphysical views, e.g. that things ultimately either exist or do not exist.
  • An explanation of the state of nirvana and perfect enlightenment where all dualities fuse and cease to exist as separate entities.
 
For the attainment of Nibbana, the Middle Way involves:
  • Abstaining from addictive sense-pleasures and self-mortification.
  • nurturing the set of "right" actions that are known as the Noble Eightfold Path.
 
In this discourse, the Buddha identifies the Middle Way as a path for "one who has gone forth from the household life", although lay Buddhists may center their lives on this path as well.
 
 
In regards to the Buddha's admonition against the "indulgence of sense-pleasures" Dr. Rewata Dhamma has written:
 
"...This kind of practice is the concern of so-called 'urban civilization,' which condones sensuous pleasures as the highest attributes of bliss; the greater the pleasures, the greater the happiness...."
 
"The Buddha taught that indulgence in sensuous pleasures is not the practice of enlightened, noble ones. Noble ones who live the worldly life do not have attachment to sense objects. For example, in the first stage of an enlightened noble life, the sotapanna, or stream winner, has not yet overcome lust and passions. Incipient perceptions of the agreeableness of carnal pleasures still linger. Nevertheless, the stream-winner will not feel the need to indulge in worldly pleasures."
 
When the Buddha delivered the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, he was addressing five ascetics with whom he had previously practiced severe austerities. Thus, it is this personal context as well as the broader context of Indian shramanic practices that gives particular relevancy to the caveat against the extreme of self-mortification.
 
 
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