Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Middle Way


I recently encountered this graphic on Facebook. Sums up the situation nicely, though I might have called the right wing of Integrity "puritanism", or maybe just "being that guy". Note that the Buddha made this principle central (no pun intended) to his teaching 2500 years ago.

These days I seem to encounter the moral right more often than the moral left. (I'm not talking about the political right and left; the moral right includes organic-insisters, McDonald's-shunners, rape-shouters, and Christmas re-labellers, as much as virginity-freaks, Second Amendment Witnesses, and guru-worshipers.)

It's hard for some to grasp that decency means living with complexity. The ethically lazy skirt such heavy lifting by sidling down one of two side aisles: refusing to recognise the need for regulation -- the hippy-dippy, whatever-dude leftist response -- or shooting down challengers to one's glorious Easy Answer with a silver bullet -- the dogfaced, procrustean prejudice of the right.

Both represent ego run amok. The Buddha's programme to bring it back under control boils down to "doing my best". Doing nothing is doing nothing, and therefore not doing your best. And doing just one thing over and over is not doing most of the full spectrum of things you're capable of. And therefore not doing your best.

Moral extremists tend to reproach centrists (which includes all authentic Buddhists) as shiftless and weak-willed, but in fact, that's them. They adopt one simplistic principle and refuse to do any dead reckoning thereafter. As the Buddha pointed out, they veer immediately off-course, and will never sail straight again until they abandon the delusion of self and get back to the relentless, inescapable work of triangulation.

'Cause there ain't no here nor there in the real world. You calibrate your moral sextant every minute of every day, or you run onto the rocks. (Then there's the karma you incur convincing others to follow you onto the rocks, but that's another post.)

Anyway, the person who created the graphic gets it. If you don't cleave to the channel, you founder.
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