Interpreting the Eightfold Path
Robert M. Ellis [+]
Middle Way Society
This section surveys the dependence of the practical path on the Middle Way, which is needed for its helpful interpretation. The Eightfold Path provides one possible way of describing the practice of integration, with all elements needing to be treated as incremental and interdependent. In the sphere of meditation, concentration and mindfulness need to be held in balance, without either being absolutised against the other, whilst right effort involves a further awareness to ‘tune the lute’. In ethical practice, the precepts need to be interpreted as part of the wider path and not absolutised as ends in themselves. This includes not repressing our awareness of others as persons. Thus the Middle Way is required to interpret Buddhist ethical injunctions. In relation to wisdom, right view and right aspiration are interdependent, and require combined intuitive, cognitive and emotive engagement with the Middle Way rather than just ‘knowledge’ of Buddhist doctrines.