Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Middle Way

Buddhism does not espouse any ascetic practice, nor does it hold a doctrine tending to a dualistic conception of existence which makes the flesh the source of evil and the spirit the foundation of everything good. The body as a material phenomenon has its limitations, as a living organism has its impulses, desires, passions, and moods; and there is nothing evil or wicked in it. It is thirsty and it must drink; it is hungry and it must be fed. Exposure to cold affects its well-being, and it must be clothed. Too much strenuosity exhausts its energy, and it must rest. All these things are inherent in it, and unless we demand that the tree grow as the fish, as a Japanese saying goes, it is altogether irrational to wish our bodily existence to be free from all its constitutional wants. Therefore, Buddhism teaches us not to curb them and torture the body but to regulate them and prevent their going to self-destruction through wantonness.

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