Buddhist Belief – The Middle Way

The core of Dharma practice is freeing oneself from the attachments of this life. It focuses on the deeper issue of gaining complete release from discontent by means of freeing our minds from the afflictions of confusion, attachment, and anger. In a broader sense, Dharma practice is concerned with serving others, in terms of both their temporary and ultimate needs.

Does this mean that one who is committed to Dharma suddenly renounces all worldly enjoyments – no more vacations, no entertainment, no sensory pleasures? No. If one tries that approach it usually results in spiritual burnout; and the common rebound is equally extreme sensual indulgence.

For this reason, the practice of Buddhist Dharma is often called the Middle Way because it seeks to avoid the extremes of sensual indulgence and severe asceticism. The former leads to perpetual dissatisfaction and the latter damages one’s physical and mental health…The Middle Way is a sensitive exertion of effort that is neither lax nor aggressive, and from this practice there ultimately arises an increasing satisfaction and delight in virtuous activity that is a result of our spiritual transformation.

~~~ B. Allan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about attachment lately. As my life is going through so many changes now, I’m noting how so many of my old habits of being attached to things and stuff are rapidly fading. My needs are fewer and fewer. Those of us who are making a study of have undoubtedly learned about the path of the Buddha. Most of us refer to it as the middle path because it not only avoids extremes of behavior, it also avoids a couple more extreme points of view. One view is that somewhere in this world filled with so many sense pleasures, there will be something which will not change – something which will last forever. The one thing we can truly count on to always be there.

Buddhist Belief, meditation, nirvana, mindfulness, karma, peace

So we keep looking for it. Every so often we’re pretty darn sure we’ve found it. This will be it! This will be the perfect find. This, I know will not betray me. This will last forever. So we grab onto it. We hold on so tightly. Eventually, we find the disappointment – the thing we knew would always be there changes in some way. It’s not the same anymore. Or, perhaps we lose it for some reason. Invariably, the end result is we suffer. The world we’re exposed to here is constantly trying to lure us with commercials and advertisements all working so hard to convince us that their “thing” is the exact “thing” we were seeking. We keep falling into the trap of wanting, clinging, grasping and attachment. If we could just stop, think and avoid these lures, we would be a lot happier in the long run.

The other view, which is also rather extreme, is that our lives are empty. And, since there’s nothing of importance, that life is all rather blank and void, that it doesn’t matter what we think or do, then why bother trying to make it better? Why should I bother putting any effort into trying to change the world?

Of course, right about then the Zen master will walk up behind you and give you a good rap on the head with his stick as he asks, “If everything is empty, why did that hurt?”

Buddhists do understand that emptiness is a characteristic of all of life. If we look openly at any experience we will find it’s true – nothing is permanent – everything is subject to change in some way – nothing is going to last forever, not even us. This is something I give a lot of thought to these days. I see where this disease I have is headed. The changes I see in my life, almost on a daily basis, are surprising, even though I knew to expect them. This isn’t some crazy, accidental universe we live in. Things happen because of certain laws – the laws of nature – the laws of karma. It’s because of these laws, and if we have an understanding of this, we know that we have the ability to truly transform our lives every day.

The Middle Way taught by the Buddha is a way of living that avoids these two extremes. We abandon the idea there is something out there that we can desire, find, buy and cling to that will not change. Followers of the Middle Way also avoid the mistaken belief that nothing we do will matter or make a difference. Everything thing we do has a reaction. The lessons of the Middle Way have been so helpful in my own life these days. I am learning to avoid the extremes by an acceptance of the way things are. Whatever arises in life will also pass at some point. What we do does matter – we are part of the Universe and our actions will ripple out everywhere. We learn to accept the fact there is nothing out there which will not change in some way, at some time.

Living a life guided by the Middle Way will create a life filled with wisdom and love.

Metta ….May I be well and happy. My I live in safety. May I be healthy and strong. May I live with ease. May all beings be well and happy. May all beings live in safety. May all beings be healthy and strong. May all beings live with ease.

Namaste — Be in Peace.

Ron Rink
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Ron’s Recommended Reading List —
Just click the links that are sort of Grey in color to take you to where you can learn more about each book and how you can purchase a copy for your own library.

Stephanie Kaza — Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume

Stephanie Kaza, an amazing writer and Buddhist teacher I knew from my 36 years living in Vermont, gathers key Buddhist thinkers to reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economics. Certainly, many other authors have examined consumerism from the lens of their religious traditions, but this book’s Buddhist perspective is unusual, and its pairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts is generally fruitful. Check this one out! Hooked!

Stephanie Kaza — Mindfully Green: A Personal and Spiritual Guide to Whole Earth Thinking

Another one from my Vermont friend — Stephanie Kaza, a biologist and professor of Environmental Studies at University of Vermont, combines Zen Buddhist practices and teachings with her 40 years as an environmentalist for this guide to enlightened environmentalism, proposing a belief in the interdependence of people and nature as the genuine way to “go green”: “When we come to see ourselves as part of the green web of life… we are naturally drawn to respond with compassion.” A good read for Buddhists or anyone from any religion. Mindfully Green

Anam Thubten — No Self – No Problem

No Self – No Problem
shows how to realize the ultimate meaning of life in each moment by dissolving all notions of ego-identity. It asks that spiritual seekers wake up to their true nature, which is already enlightened. Based on Buddhist wisdom traditions, this easy-to-read book discusses in simple, but profound and inspiring language, how we can live a life full of love, satisfaction, and happiness. No Self – No Problem

Sharon Salzberg — The Kindness Handbook

“It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness–to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that. — From The Kindness Handbook

Eckhart Tolle’s amazing best seller, A New Earth

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s wonderful book, My Stroke of Insight: Nirvana is just a breath away!

And this one by Sharon Salzberg and is entitled: A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom and Compassion“.

This is a new one for you by Pema Chodron entitled: When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
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Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

~~~ Buddha

 

Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

~~~ Buddha

 

Have a peaceful day!! —

Ron Rink

P.S. If you’d like to read my memoir/novel, you can access it here:

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