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The Middle Path

Update: 06/11/2015
Question: There are two cultivation methods. One is abandoning every natural bond, mindfully praying to Buddha. The other is self-cultivation under any circumstances. Which one should each Buddhist go for?

The Middle Path



Most of the cultivators are prone to pick up the latter one, self-cultivation regardless of situations. Why does it seem that the majority of them decide to abandon all their natural attachments? Is it on account of their fear of parting with their husbands and children, leaving behind the houses, money and assets they have arduously accumulated for tens of years in order to lead a still life in some pagodas? That way of thinking proves no deep insight into what the word “abandonment” means according to the Buddha and the founders’ teachings.


Great Venerable or “cloth-bag Monk” (an incarnation of Maitreya Bodhisattva), who is paunchy, round-faced, grinning all the time and whenever he went, on his shoulder, was a cloth bag in which all given to him was put in. Then, he distributed thoes things to all the children he bumped into, which made them follow him closely. One day, having known his virtue from hearsay, a monk that lived far away from there, rushed for consultation at once.


“Venerable! What is Buddhism mainly about?” asked the Monk.

He did not say anything, dropping the bag on his shoulderto the floor.

“Venerable! Is that all or is there anything else?” added the Monk. 


At that moment, what he did was only crouching over the bag, putting it on his shoulders, smiling and turning away.


What do the sequent movements refer to?

The core mission of every Buddhist cultivator is to know how to detach all the natural bonds, which does not require excessive material enjoyment. In other words, all life activities remain unchanged, but Buddhists had better be clever enough to let go of the mindset of grasping things and humans as well as psychological attachments and binds. Only when those links are untied should we be relieved and peaceful. It makes the truest sense of “abandonment”, not putting aside essential physical demands in real life. It is important that you not do the rebinding once opening them.


Furthermore, it is not easy to remove mental attachment. To do that, wisdom and determination are of great essence. Frequently observe the body so as to approach the ultimate truth of it and realize that wealth is not real in its continuously mutable state. First, recite the Buddha’s title along with breath rhythm to refine the mind, which must later become tranquil, paving the path for the birth of enlightenment. With the conspicuous emergence of wisdom, the truth will be brought to light, and abandonment as well as unknotting may grow much more simplified. That knot is noticeably neither in eyes nor in the existence of usual things, but right in the sheer mind. It is urgent that this mind should be taken into more radical consideration so we could sense that what is most beloved is gradually dying away every passing second, and we are unable to remain permanently young and beautiful in spite of any great effort to nourish it. The more we observe our minds every day and every minute, the probably easier it is for us to undo all the knots inside them. Right in the mind should abandonment take place, not in the sense of self-detachment from real-life work which induces weariness and widespread pessimism.


Cultivation is centered in realizing the core matter - neutral way, not inclining to any side. The harmonious combination refers to making use of all the Dharma without being stuck into it, not figuratively “self-framing” or sloping to one side. Any inclination once founded towards thoughts and behaviors, immediate adjustment must be made so that the progress in cultivation would not be obstructed. Be clever and flexible in practice. We are also supposed to switch between cultivation practices under any circumstances and cultivation out of every natural bond, thoroughly mindful of praying to Buddha along with the rhythm of breath as illustrated: “Ami” uttered while inhaling, whereas exhaling going with “Tabha”. Whenever at work, keep our minds lucid, pay full attention to what we are doing; on the contrary, return to the Buddha’s Title without delay once free from work. It is such impressive attainment that we hold entire control of our minds, keeping them away from clinging to the five desires, which initially reaches awareness and mindfulness. We are advised to be easily adapted to a variety of changing conditions, places and occasions without any hesitation or doubtfulness. Besides, avoid being too dedicated to the Buddha’s title to be attentive to our daily communication as well as work. Such practice turns out to be a disease to avert. Buddhism is the religion of wisdom that claims the essence of cultivation engaged in considering wisdom as a long-term career, “Attaining wisdom is all Buddhists' goal.” The value only makes the most significant sense once the cultivators learn how to cleverly apply it to elaborate practice in conformity with their own working demands. In need of contemplation of work, pay assiduous attention to calculation. Soon after finishing, instantly drop all the burden in order to rely back upon the title “Amitabha” enlightening our mind.


Thich Minh Thanh.

Translated by Nguyen Minh Thuy Tien (Quang Van)

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