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Durable Link to this BlogFriday, June 14, 2002

The Middle Path

The Path of Moderation

This story is from the life of Gautama Buddha.

Buddha was born as a prince by name Siddharth and was brought up with all the luxuries available at the time. But he was tired of material pleasures and sought spiritual enlightenment. He abandoned all his bonding and practiced severe penance. It is said that he fasted for several days, and became so weak, that he fell unconscious.

Upon gaining conscience, he heard a song in the wind:

The string overstretched breaks and music flies
The string over-slack is dumb and music dies
Tune in the the Veena (a musical instrument) neither low nor high!

The song appealed to the prince Siddharth, and as he sat brooding over the gist, a village girl by name Sujata came with a pot of hot pudding, an offering she had promised to the forest-deity as a vow. The ascetic in meditation must have appeared to her as the forest-deity and she offered the food in utmost respect. Gautama (the name the prince had assumed after renouncing the world) accepted the food and his strength is said to have returned.

Gautama is thus said to have realized the futility of self-mortification as bad as self-indulgence. To achieve right comprehension, right living, and right meditation, extremities have to be avoided, taught he.

Buddha (meaning the Enlightened) thus taught moderation.
Madhyama Marga or the Middle-path is the mainstay of Buddhism.

See Related Topics:
• Buddhism Potpourri -- Topics on Buddhism in India
• The Path of Devotion
• Stamps Celebrating the Festival of Buddha

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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