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Describe in detail what is meant by the ‘Middle Way’.

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Introduction

RS1 Describe in detail what is meant by the 'Middle Way'. Siddharta Gautama was born about 563 BCE, in a garden called Lumbini, in the foothills of the Himalayas. Siddharta was said to have been born out of the side of his mother, Queen Maya, who died seven days later. It is said that once he was born he immediately took seven steps towards each quarter of heaven, and at each step up sprung a lotus flower. He then declared that he would have no more births, and that this was his last body and that he would 'pluck out by the roots the sorrow caused by birth and death'. Siddharta was brought up into the Shakya Clan and lived a very rich lifestyle. But this did not satisfy him, so he decided to go in search of enlightenment and at the age of 19 he started to think seriously about his life. His father tried to protect him from the real world, but Siddharta still saw four things that changed his life: 1. An old man. This showed Siddharta that everyone will get old someday. 2. A sick man. This showed Siddharta that you cannot be protected from disease. 3. A corpse. This showed Siddharta that everyone dies. 4. A Holy man. This showed Siddharta that one has devoted himself to the spiritual life. When he saw the Holy man, he decided to leave and live a life of poverty. For six years, Siddharta followed a Sadha's way of life, he nearly starved himself to death because he worked his body and its needs so hard. One day he went for a bathe in the River Nairanjana. When he got there, coming out of the river was Nandabala, who was the daughter of the overseer of the local herds. She offered him a bowl of milk-rice, and at this point Siddharta realised that ascetics practices could never lead him to enlightenment. ...read more.

Middle

The only way to stop craving is to discover inner satisfaction and appreciate life. Buddhists do not crave because they have learnt to enjoy life as it is and nirvana is the point where craving ceases to exist. 4. The way that leads to the cessation of suffering-this is 'The Middle Way' or Magga, and it is often set out in the form of eight steps. These are not steps that a person has to take one after another, but eight features of the Buddhists life. The Noble Eightfold Path shows us the three aspects to the Buddhist way of life-Wisdom (prajuna), Morality (sila) and Mental Training (samadhi). All three of these are dealt with in 'the Noble Eightfold Path'. 1. Right (or perfect)view-understanding the Four Noble Truths. 2. Right (or perfect)speech-avoiding unkind words. 3. Right (or perfect)action-avoiding violence or vanity. 4. Right (or perfect)livelihood-seeking employment that causes no harm to others. 5. Right (or perfect)effort-using time wisely. 6. Right (or perfect)mindfulness-being compassionate. 7. Right (or perfect)concentration-mediating. 8. Right (or perfect)intentions-the decision to follow the Buddhist Path. I will now discuss the effect of the teachings of the Noble Eightfold Path in RS2. RS2 Describe how the teachings of the Middle Way are interpreted by Buddhists, how they affect their lives and how they may facilitate the attainment of Nirvana. The Noble Eightfold Path is 'The Middle Way' in Buddhism and you have to follow it if you want to reach enlightenment. The Path is used to make it easier to become enlightened and reach Nirvana. By following the Path Buddhists' lives are changed and their points of view differ. The first step in the Noble Eightfold path is Right (or perfect) view and this step is about the thoughts about life that the Buddhist should have. Using this step Buddhists learn to deepen their understanding of life, using the Buddha's teachings to do so. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would make it harder for someone to become a Buddhist or to follow the Middle Way because they may not live near a Buddhist place of worship (temple). Although people could worship at home, they would need a Shrine (of the Buddha), so that they can use it to help with their meditation. A Lay Buddhist would probably think that it isn't hard following the Path in the modern world because they have probably done it all their life, and they have learnt through meditation to cope with it. Although they would find it harder than if they were living years ago when they could be Lay Buddhists really easily. They would have difficulty but if they have been following it all their then their not really going to have much trouble in doing so in the modern world. Lay Buddhists could still use the Eightfold Path in everyday use though. They could use Right Intentions to help them only do or say things that won't harm anybody or anything. Right Speech will help Lay Buddhists to only say nice things and not to hurt other people in what they say. Using Right Action will help them so that they only act positively and be kind to all living beings. Those are just four examples of how Lay Buddhists could use the Path in everyday life even in the modern world. In conclusion I think that it would be hard for Lay Buddhists to follow the Middle Way in the modern world, but I don't think that it would be impossible. There are a lot of Lay Buddhists out there living in the modern world that follow the Path, and even if they do find it hard they don't give up on it. So that is why I think that it would be hard being a Lay Buddhist, but it would be harder being one in the western world than Asia because in the western world is not one of the main religions compared to what its like in Asia and the Middle East. ...read more.

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