Black, White and Shades of Grey by Harish member of our Sat. group
In our journey through life, we are constantly making decisions and passing judgments on one issue or another. The result of this process subjects us to emotional highs and lows. So how do we cope with the suffering brought on by this roller coaster ride of emotions and thoughts?
For around 30 long years Buddha meditated on this issue to find an answer to human suffering. He contemplated on the two paths that a person could follow. One was the path of punishment whereby a person denied himself the fulfillment of his desires and the pleasures of this world. The other path was one of indulgence. It was “live it up” attitude – eat what you want, buy what you want, do what you want and fulfill the desires of the senses.
Buddha came to the conclusion that neither path was the solution to our dissatisfaction, unhappiness and other negative emotions, which define suffering. The path recommended by and taught by him might be termed as “The Middle Way”. It is neither the path of ultimate penance nor the path of continuous indulgence. It is neither white nor black but a shade of grey. It is the path of mindfulness that is paying attention to the present reality of the moment. It is a path of “NOW”. By keeping our mind in the path of “Now”, we can pave the way for future peace.
In his book “The Wise Heart”, Jack Kornfield says “There is a middle way between the extremes of indulgence and self-denial, free from sorrow and suffering. This is the way to peace and liberation in this very life.” Further “If we seek happiness purely through indulgence and from the outside world, we are not free. And if we fight against the world and ourselves we are not free. It is the middle path that brings freedom. The more we delve into the middle way the more deeply we come to rest between the play of opposites.”
This concept, stated in another way: The Middle Way is a “path of moderation”. One should be moderate in what we want, what we take in and what our responses are to the outside world. Be moderate in work, in sleep and in wakefulness. This moderation will lead to reduction of you sorrows”.
Moderation in one’s behavior is also connected to the concept of even mindedness or “sameness” or equanimity that is the opposite of a moody, yo-yo mind. It is suggested here that one should be even minded in circumstances surrounding the body, mind, and intellect.
With the body, for example, one should treat heat and cold alike; with the mind, treat joy and sorrow alike; and with the intellect, treat honor and dishonor alike.
Needless to say, all this is easier said than done. What we can say is that one can keep these attributes as goals and slowly try to achieve these. This in turn goes back to the concept of following the “Middle way”.
In life nothing is absolutely black or white. There are always “Shades of Grey”. One should be mindful about that and stay moderate in our excitements whether positive or negative ones.
HARISH March 2018