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The middle way Essay

A long time ago in Lumbini, a small town in Nepal, a prince was born; his name was Siddhartha. Siddhartha’s father was very protective of him, because when he was young, an ascetic called Asita came to the king and said, “Siddhartha will never be king but he will be a great leader”. The king made sure that Siddhartha never saw any suffering, so he never had reason to leave the palace. However one day after a parade Siddhartha saw two old men, he followed them and finally saw what his father had tried to hide from him; old age, disease, poverty and death. This upset Siddhartha and he decided to leave the palace. A fog descended on the palace allowing Siddhartha to leave and symbolising the beginning of his journey towards enlightenment.

After leaving the palace Siddhartha spent many years as an Ascetic (a person who starve and punishes themselves to gain enlightenment). Siddhartha realised that neither his luxurious life as a prince nor his life as an ascetic was the way to gain enlightenment. Siddhartha began to meditate under a tree and was soon met by six temptations; desire, greed, lust, war, pride and sloth. Siddhartha overcame these temptations and achieved enlightenment. Siddhartha lived for another 45 years spreading the “middle way”. The middle way is the path between luxury and poverty and the way to reach enlightenment. When Siddhartha died he reached Nirvana, which is the Buddhist equivalent heaven. Although it is not a place merely, a state of mind where everything is seen clearly and there is no suffering.

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A key part of the “middle way” is called the 4 noble truths. These are:

Dukkha- All life involves suffering,-this is to be comprehended. For example illness and death, because no one can escape from suffering.

Tanha- The cause of suffering is desire,-this is to be abandoned. For example the wanting of material possessions, these cause suffering because you forget about what you have already.

Niroda- The cessation of suffering is the cessation of desire,-this is to be realised. For example, the stopping of smoking.

Magga- The middle way is the path to the cessation of desire,-this is to be practised. For example it would make you a vegetarian,

Siddhartha realised that to achieve enlightenment he must find a path which was neither the charmed life of a prince nor the starved life of an ascetic. Thus he came to the “middle way”, which allows both freedom and restrictions.

The “middle way” is the route to enlightenment and is summarised by the Eight-fold path. The “Middle Way” and the eight-fold path are only a set of guidelines, which means they do not have to be followed as your karma is dependant on the choices that you make.

The eight-fold path is made up of 3 sections:

Prajna- The way of wisdom

Sila- The way of morality

Samadhi- The way of mental training

These sections contain different ‘paths’ each of which have a positive effect on life.

Prajna

Right view- You must intend to follow the Buddha’s teaching

Positive effect- With this approach to life one is able to deal with greed and suffering because that is what Buddhism is about. With this ‘Right View’ you can find a path between poverty and luxury (The middle way).

Right intention- You must commit yourself to following Buddha’s teaching.

Positive effect- If you are committed to Buddhism it shows that you can overcome desire. Once you have overcome desire you can find a path between poverty and luxury (The middle way).

Sila

Right Speech- Speak in a truthful and positive manner.

Positive effect- You are being true to yourself, which is important because you are not going along with what ever other people want. This means that you are not tempted to stray from ‘The Middle Way’.

Right Action- Follow the five moral precepts.

Positive effect- The five moral precepts warn against taking life, telling lies, stealing, having harmful sex and clouding your mind with drink and drugs. These precepts would make you a better person because you would always be in control of your own mind and so be able to follow “The Middle Way”.

Right Livelihood- Have a job that does not go against Buddha’s teachings or his principals.

Positive effect- Your job is helping other people instead of yourself which is very important in “The Middle Way” .

Samadhi

Right Effort- Banish negative or damaging thoughts from your mind and replace them with positive ones.

Positive effect-You will not feel any jealousy or hurt, which is good because they are a form of suffering and the point of the “The Middle Way” is to stop suffering.

Right Mindfulness- Putting others and their needs before your own.

Positive effect- You are putting other peoples needs before your own and so have stopped desiring for more than you can have. This is important in “The Middle Way”.

Right Concentration- Train your mind via meditation.

Positive effect- You will become a very focused and thoughtful person and so can concentrate hard on “The Middle Way”.

Along with Eight-Fold Path, Buddhists are also guided by the five-moral precepts. These precepts just like the Eight-Fold Path are just a set of guidelines that Buddhist’s can choose to follow if they wish. However if they do follow the precepts, they can have a positive effect on peoples lives.

Precept One- I will avoid taking life

Positive effect- I will not kill anything, which means that I am thinking of others before myself and thus following “The Middle Way”

Precept Two- I will avoid taking what is not given

Positive effect- I will not take what I cannot afford/need, which means I am not living a luxurious life. I am also not living a deprived life so I am following “The Middle Way”.

Precept Three- I will avoid taking part in any harmful sexual activity

Positive effect- I will not overindulge in anything harmful which can be seen as luxury I am also not living a deprived life so I am following “The Middle Way”.

Precept Four- I will avoid saying what is not true

Positive effect- I will not be creating a false world around myself which is a luxury I am also not living a deprived life so I am following “The Middle Way”.

Precept Five- I will avoid clouding my mind with drugs and alcohol

Positive effect- I will not overindulge in anything harmful which can be seen as luxury I am also not living a deprived life so I am following “The Middle Way”.

A central part of Buddhist beliefs is Karma. Karma is linked to the middle way

through the Buddhist belief that “Good” actions in your present life shall lead to “Good” Karma, which will help you get a better next life. This relates to the middle way because the best way to get “Good” karma is to think of others before yourself which means that you are not living a luxurious life but you are living a comfortable life so you are not denying yourself either.

What you come back as in your next life is determined by your actions in your present life. For example saving a life is indicative of Good Karma whereas lying or cheating is Bad karma. Both Karma and the “Middle Way” allow you to choose what you want to do but lets you know that there are consequences to your actions.

Buddhism became popular with the West during the 1960’s and 1970’s with the growth of free and love and the embracing of Eastern ideas and philosophies. In Britain Buddhism has taken the form of the “Friends of the Western Buddhist Order” (FWBO). This group uses traditional teachings and practises but adapts them to the West. FWBO offer all different classes for members and non members. These classes such as Yoga and meditation can help people calm their mind and may lead them on to more traditional Eastern Buddhism.

Members of the West are attracted to the free will of Buddhism. It gives you guidelines; The eight-fold path and the 5 moral precepts but it allows you to make up your own mind. As such you are more in control of you destiny. The “Middle Way” also allows you to pick the life you want to lead because only you can really decide what is the balance between poverty and luxury. The West may also be attracted to Buddhism because it preaches peace and in the violent and volatile situation we live in at the moment (terrorism, war, street crime) people may need to believe there is another way out there (The “Middle Way”).

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The middle way. (2017, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-middle-way-essay

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