A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Middle Path re-walked

When Buddhist’s speak of the middle way or middle path. What does this mean? Is it the blending of all the existing religions that existed at the time: definitely not. Compared to Brahmanism which was prevalent at the time in the area, Buddha middle path was very different and most definitely radical and revolutionary. He stated that women were beings of equal importance to men in their own right. Buddha also recognized that all living beings have sentience, not just mankind. While some beliefs were placing the earth as the center of the universe and the only place with life, Buddha was stating that our planet was just one of an infinite number of worlds with sentient beings. To borrow a phrase from the 1960s television classic, Star Trek “To boldly go, where no man has gone before” in this view. That woman were man’s equal in all things spiritual and their lives had equal importance, while recognizing the biological differences was something we have only just started to promote here in the west since the 1960s. Buddhism acknowledges that men and women are equal but different. It does not put either sex above the other, rather it acknowledges that in certain things one or the other sex should generally be the leader, with the other deferring its authority. I only a few years ago, after my own failed marriage realized that growing up, my childhood was in a house that although unspoken, had followed the guidelines set down by Buddha 2600 years ago. Basically the middle way refers to the extremes of hedonism and an ascetic lifestyle. Not to be caught up in the need to have more than our neighbours, but also not living without any possessions either. Also the middle way is about how we interact with all other sentient beings. That when we place their needs and desires on an equal footing with our own, then seek a balance where all benefit equally do we achieve harmony and peace along with prosperity. In today’s parlance Buddha advocated a ‘green lifestyle”.

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