The Buddha’s Middle Way - Experiential Judgement in his Life and Teaching - Robert M. Ellis

The Buddha’s Middle Way - Experiential Judgement in his Life and Teaching - Robert M. Ellis

The Middle Way in the Buddha’s Early Life

The Buddha’s Middle Way - Experiential Judgement in his Life and Teaching - Robert M. Ellis

Robert M. Ellis [+-]
Middle Way Society
Robert M Ellis has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Cambridge BA in Oriental Studies and Theology. Originally from a Christian background, he spent about 20 years practising Buddhism, including as a member of the Triratna Order. However, he now describes himself as a Middle Way practitioner without exclusive loyalty to any one religious tradition. Over the last 20 years he has developed Middle Way Philosophy, initially in his Ph.D. thesis. This is best described as a practical and integrative philosophical approach, incorporating many elements not only from Buddhism but also from psychology, neuroscience, and other aspects of Western thought. In 2013 he founded the Middle Way Society (www.middlewaysociety.org) to develop and apply Middle Way Philosophy beyond the limitations of the Buddhist tradition, both in theory and practice. Robert has earned a living for more than 20 years as a teacher and tutor of philosophy and related subjects. He has previously published both academic and introductory books about Middle Way Philosophy, and recently a parallel book on Christianity, ‘The Christian Middle Way’.

Description

This section offers a pragmatically based interpretation of the way in which the Middle Way can be found in the stories of the Buddha’s early life, and thus also ways that this story can reflect a universally available process of human development. After the Buddha’s origins in the Palace, representing absolutized conventional values, the ‘Four Sights’ introduce the necessary element of frustration that we require to break the closed feedback loops of habitual assumption. The Buddha then ‘goes forth’, initially in counter-dependent reaction to the Palace. His subsequent recognition of the limitations of his spiritual teachers and of the fruitlessness of asceticism prepares him for the discovery of the Middle Way, taking him beyond that polarised reaction into increasingly integrated balanced awareness. It is argued that the Buddha’s discovery of the Middle Way, not his Awakening, is the crucially significant moment in the Buddha’s development, because it offers a universal method whereby absolutising assumptions of all kinds can be integrated by embodied contextualisation. The Middle Way is analysed into five interdependent principles. A case is made for the interpretation of the Awakening that follows in the story in terms of its archetypal meaning, rather than as a basis for absolutising belief that would conflict with the Middle Way.

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Citation

Ellis, Robert. The Middle Way in the Buddha’s Early Life. The Buddha’s Middle Way - Experiential Judgement in his Life and Teaching. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 8-49 May 2019. ISBN 9781781798201. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=36782. Date accessed: 17 Nov 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.36782. May 2019

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