The Middle Way

a feather and a stone equally balance

We live in a Universe of paradox and polarities, conflicts and contradictions:

• Light vs. dark
• Good vs. evil
• Creation vs. destruction
• Life vs. death
• Order vs. chaos

The same is true for us, both within ourselves and with others. We all live with tensions between polarities. Here are just a few:

• Gratification vs. abstinence, or indulgence vs. self-denial
• Me vs. we
• Interdependence vs. autonomy
• Hatred vs. Love
• Acceptance vs. nonacceptance
• Action vs. Inaction (contemplation/introspection)
• Solitude vs. community
• Surrender vs. control.
• Collaboration vs. competition
• Fighting vs. reconciling
• Discipline vs. spontaneity
• Listening vs. talking
• Giving vs. receiving

And the list goes on and on.

Our task is to live in the middle of it all…to live in the middle of the paradoxes of our lives…to live in the very center of our existence, in the one present moment of our lives with all of its opposites. This is the Middle Way.

When we are in the Middle Way, we honor all the polarities and paradoxes of life. We live in the balance point between extremes. We see and accept both sides of things.
How does this pertain to our own growth and healing?

For one, there is the need for all of us to radically accept ourselves with all our pain, wounds, flaws and imperfections, and at the same time to make a deep commitment to growth and change. This is the paradox that change starts with acceptance.

Yet there is more. Living in the Middle Way is like sitting at the side of a busy river, watching the parade of boats go by. These boats are the sights, sounds, thoughts, feelings, and other sensations that arise in our awareness moment-by-moment. We practice presence, in the balance between attachment and aversion, taking it all in reverently and lightly. We honor it all. Our minds still, and we experience peace and joy. We awaken to the reality of this eternal moment just as it is, with all its contradictions. We see that is it not either/or. It is both/and. That is the Middle Way. It is an experience, an attitude, and a way of living.

Practice staying in the Middle Way in all your conflicts, both within yourself and with others. Remember that opinions can be life-killers. Avoid extremes. Honor that we all have conflicting and contradictory Worldviews. That is as it is and therefore exactly as it should be. Be like the wise man who hears one side of an argument and says, “You are right,” hears the other side and says, “You are right,” and when confronted on his flip/flopping, says, “You are right.”

Intolerance is the problem. Intolerance of ourselves, intolerance of others, and intolerance of Reality. It must be balanced with tolerance. As you practice tolerance, also tolerate your intolerance. Accept your nonacceptance. Live lightly in the middle of your contradictions and paradoxes. This is the Middle Way.

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