Where is this middle path?

The middle has always seemed to resonate with me in some way and when I discovered Buddhism 11 years ago it was as though I had found my way home.

Buddhist philosophy teaches us the Eightfold Path, which is described as the ‘middle way’ and explains why it is often termed the ‘middle path’. It is a way of living in moderation; between the extremes of self gratification on one hand and self mortification on the other. In a subtler sense it reflects the paradox of the universe and can be thought of as finding a way of finding balance between spirituality and materialism.

Following the middle path can help your life whatever your struggles. For me I always tended to live in opposite extremes. When things in my life were bad, they were extremely bad and when I finally turned my life around things went to the other end of the scale and I lived like a saint. Although the latter was very necessary, it wasn’t sustainable. To be in the world but not of the world is the middle way.

When you truly understand the enormity of the middle path and you begin to embody it into your life, you can find inner peace and balance. The middle path becomes a place to rest between the opposites life throws our way. It helps decision making and it becomes a guide like an illuminated path before you.

A few years ago my daughter became very ill and the conventional method of therapy offered was one that required a parent, child hierarchy. We soon realised that it did not exist within our family unit. Due to my own family dynamics, I had raised my children rather unconventionally and when I tried to apply the kind of parenting that was required for the methodology to work, it failed. In finding a solution I naturally sought the answers in Buddhism. I explained to the doctors and therapists the notion of the middle path. In applying ancient Buddhist principles we were able to develop our own way of working, that whilst harnessed the basics of the therapy they knew to work with her particular disease, largely centred around finding the middle way.

Balance is about finding the point in the centre of something where you are equal on both sides. There is a completeness to this and when you find that point within, it brings about rest and peace. Having said that, in my experience following the middle path doesn’t always mean being physically exactly in the middle, but it reflects the point where you feel the balance. How do you know where that is? You will feel it – you will feel the peace within, the resting place.

When you practise this,  you will come to know that place well. It is this middle path that you return to when you sit to meditate. The place you connect with when you are mindful throughout your day. It is the path you seek when you need rest and solace. It is the place of truth, joy and happiness. The middle path is the way, you just have to seek, to find and to follow it.

I love Jack Kornfield’s explanation of finding the middle way that you might like to read.

[This image is of beautiful Buddhist prayer flags that can be found along the Land of Medicine Buddha Hike, within the quiet redwood forest in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains.]

The power of faith and trusting what is

A long time ago, when I was became interested in Buddhism, it took me some time to fully grasp the concept of letting go and acceptance. For a while it meant being walked all over or not having a voice, about shirking all responsibility, but over the years I have learnt the true meaning of letting go and acceptance.

Letting go actually allows more to come into your life and as the Buddha said,

by the absence of grasping, one is set free

When you can begin to accept the impermanence of life, that we can only ever truly control our own thoughts, behaviours and actions and not those of others, life begins to open up a whole world of new possibilities and opportunities.

Letting go and acceptance also mean the allowing of something else too.

Trust.

Not everyone finds it easy to trust. Not just in trusting others but in trusting yourself and trusting what is.

When you have faith, let go and accept what is, you will find that you start to ‘see’ and trust what comes your way is meant to be. When you live your life consciously, i.e. practising mindfulness and living in the present moment, you will notice that you trust more in what comes your way. That isn’t to say that every situation, person or scenario you experience will lead you to something positive, but what it does mean is that you trust that whatever you are faced with is meant to be there. Whether it be a hard lesson or something more enjoyable.

There is power in trusting what is – you lose expectations and you become less focused on outcomes, spending more time simply enjoying the journey. When you  trust in what is, you live your life more in flow. What used to feel difficult will become easier, what used to feel ‘stuck’ will become unstuck. Your life will meander along much more smoothly than it did before.

I use faith and trust interchangeably and indeed, one is a synonym for the other, but they actually mean different things. Faith is what you hold within you and having the ability to believe in something you don’t have proof or evidence of, whereas trust is more certain and says it IS so.

So you are having faith, that when you let go and practice acceptance everything will be ok. The more you do that, the more you trust what is, because you are experiencing it for real. When your live your life based on these simple principles you will find your life experience is elevated to a whole different level. One where your unshakeable faith and trust create true power, fuelling your ability to change your life and achieve more of what your heart desires than ever before…

 

 

[This photograph of a beautiful Buddha statue was taken along the serene Land of Medicine Buddha Hike in Santa Cruz, California.]