The Dhammacakkappavattana Sutra contains Buddha's teaching to his former companions shortly after he awakened under the Bodhi Tree. In addition to the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, the sutra sets out Buddha's teaching of the Middle Way:
There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable.
And there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable.
Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata has realized the Middle Way.
In the Samyutta Nikaya (12.15) the Buddha tells Maha Kaccana:
Everything doesn't exist - that is the other extreme.
Avoiding these two extremes,
The Tathagata teaches the dhamma by the middle way.
In this later teaching, Buddha focuses on the mind's tendency to make the world fixed and permanent. The Middle Way avoids this impulse.
How often do any of us walk this middle way? What is it like to live in a state not-knowing - what Zen teachers sometimes refer to as don't know mind?
One of the unanticipated joys of this blog is that my own unconscious movement toward fixed views gets revealed through the responses of kind readers.
This generosity helps me step back into a more spacious, generous place. Thank you!
Photo of Siddhartha by John Wigham
Photo of Budai by Nemo's Great Uncle