The middle road is seemingly less and less travelled anymore. Admittedly, this is a generalization, as I’m not going around giving a census. At a minimum, extremes are what is portrayed in everything I read, see, or interact with on the internet. The art of conversation is dying, as most people are more interested in validating their position and pushing it on someone else, than learning through discourse.
In all of this, it is Ego at work. Yet, Ego itself is not bad. Depending on what you read and believe in, you may think you are supposed to destroy or transcend your Ego, but then you are sending yourself on a wild goose chase. Much of this confusion lies in the misinterpretation & translation of words. Whether you are religious, spiritual, or atheist, you often see yourself as a solitary boat in an ocean of other – other people, other things, etc. This boat is your ego, and it is the vessel that carries you throughout the world. Therefore, it is not inherently bad. Words like good and bad are again just words. This is the quandary we all are in because we rely so heavily on words and language now. We seek to label everything as if by labelling it, we now have an understanding of it. The truth is, though, labels reflect a lack of understanding. They are to serve as guides, not rules.
I came to spirituality in an effort to break away from dogma. I find myself too stubborn to follow someone else’s rules because they said so. That’s me, though, and that makes me nothing more or less than anyone else. It’s just the path I wander. In reality, I don’t actually wander a path. Again, another spiritual concept that seems to muddy the waters. A path connotes some linear progression and sets an expectation that if x, then y. Reality does not operate this way. Yes, sometimes things are linear – if I eat an apple, I will not be hungry. Sometimes, things are much less clear. If I do not eat the apple, I am hungry, and because I am hungry, I don’t think clearly. Because I am not thinking clearly, I make a wrong turn, and I end up smashing into a brick wall. Is that because I didn’t eat an apple? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe, Maybe not is true reality and is the Middle Way.
The Middle Way is non-duality, it excludes nothing, which gives all possibilities. When we focus only on good, we repress bad. Our society today shows how deeply divided and troubled we are, and much of this is because of the complete communication breakdown, obsession with labels, and being mired in complete and total duality. The mass shootings have created more divisiveness and gun control gets argued, and more arguing commences and most people wander their path more like a hamster on a wheel with the illusion they’re going somewhere. The shootings are labelled as a bad thing, and everyone is very upset by this bad thing. Yet, again, I am reminded that good and bad are processes that work together. As Fred Rogers said, look for the helpers. This notion of “good” is laid in the soil of “bad” just like the day is the contrast of night. You can’t know one without the other. They are not opposed to each other (duality) they work together as one (yin-yang).
The Middle Way is to walk the path of life without living in extremes. This notion of paths, though, gives a false expectation that you will see growth, change, progression at any given moment, and that confuses and disheartens many. The problem stems firstly from expectation, but it is more deeply rooted in this obsession with words and symbols instead of reality and truth. Similarly, this notion of the ego and transcendence effectively places your ability to learn, grow, and acquire wisdom as a carrot beyond your reach. This is the problem with so many teachings I am reading presently. Many start in a simple place – like Buddha’s teachings – then overcomplicate the shit out of them for egoistic merit in the guise of non-ego. Even more simply put – you are already Buddha. The only reason you’re not is that you say you’re not, so you put yourself on a path – to Buddha-hood, to “goodness”, to whatever you set your sights on, instead of realizing it’s already done. We use words to carrot happiness, to carrot success, to carrot existence, because we must be on a path and do this, and do that. No, literally no.
There is no good and there is no bad, because everything is. Meditation is a vehicle of the Middle Way because it is a time and place to bring awareness into your being. Again, the confusion of language and everything has created a mentality that meditation is about being a blank mind wandering the world aloof. That’s nothing of the sort, and it is another carrot. A better way to describe meditation would be contemplation. You do not need to sit in a lotus position with your eyes closed to meditate. I am meditating as I type these words. How? My mind and body are acting as one right now. The thoughts are coming out of my fingertips at the same time they enter my mind. I am simply a channel of the knowledge and understanding I have gained in my wanderings. When I stop to think, then type, my writing becomes slower, more laborious, and egoic. When I flow, the words and typos pour out, and I go from there.
Contemplation is a state of questioning and a state of unknowing. It is the power of a question and the allowance for an answer. Most of our thoughts are rumination. These are declarative statements repeated ad-nauseum. These allow no room for alternate perspectives or answers because you are seeking only validation – much like the “conversations” we have today. In contemplation, there is a vulnerability that many do not like because you must admit you don’t know. This creates all of the ignorance and lack of discernment because people rarely want to say “I don’t know”. These extremes – whatever you want them to be – are always staunchly defended by people who are insecure that they could be wrong because the truth is that they do not know if they are right. I find the louder someone shouts they are right, the more deeply insecure they are in their position.
The most amazing doors open when a question is asked. Yet, again, discernment is not taking everything someone gives you as truth. Like writing a paper, you can’t cite someone else’s beliefs as your own. Put it into your own understanding and words. Buddha teaches this as well. For all the rigidity and dogma of different religions, most of their leaders – Jesus, Mohammed, and so forth, taught a simple message: love. People add their own complexities because our egos feed off the complex. It makes us feel more important. My ability to discern “great universal truths” and disseminate them must make me very smart, very special, very ___ my ego could tell you.
But the real me would laugh hysterically, because I’m in a Deadpool hoodie and Eagles pajama pants writing under Mah Butt Itches, because I like to laugh. Want to get your point across to someone? Make them laugh, instead of arguing with them. To be honest, I laugh at most of the stuff I read nowadays because fuck me if we don’t all overcomplicate the shit out of everything. And that’s okay. That’s how we are because our egos like us to feel special. The truth is I understand doing nothing very well because I like to do nothing a lot. I don’t see the point anymore in running around like a chicken with my head cut off. So, I don’t. One could say I’ve turned laziness into a religion, but it’s more I’ve allowed music and water to become my religion.
I don’t sit and bow down to either, but what is the point of water? Water doesn’t fight through anything; it flows to where it goes, it sits if it’s stopped, and eventually it overflows whatever is blocking it. If it can’t flow, it dries up and continues somewhere else. What is the point of music? Music is to be enjoyed and heard. You don’t race to the end of the song, that’s idiotic. You enjoy the experience of the song, the highs and the lows. Life is music. Life is water. If either need to make a point/change/whatever, they do it with flow. Even the headbanging stuff I love has a profound poetry. To me, this is what spirituality is about – inspiration to find your true self. However you find it. The true self that is beyond the ego.
The spiritual community gives so much power to the ego in trying to transcend it. It’s like punching the water in an attempt to make fewer waves. What even is ego? Ego in Latin is I. It’s the notion that you are you and you are separate from anyone else. I am Mahbuttitches, and my totally unique ___ is different from all the other blogs on WordPress says my ego. Through meditation, I came to a very simple question, “Who am I?” I can’t answer that anymore. That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped existing. I can see my legs, my flying fingers, and my messy fucking house that’s driving me insane, I’m here. But, who am I really?
Now, you can say clearly I’m schizophrenic. (I’m not. It’s literally the ONLY diagnosis I don’t have!) Or, I can say this: there is me that has a personality – persona: Mask, the actor, there is me acting in this world. This is very necessary. I need to be in this world, or else my kids don’t have a mom, my pajamas don’t have a wearer, and Wawa loses the delight of seeing me stumbling in a few times a day. But there is more than that. There is a woman’s body that has a soul, and that soul is infinite beyond words. I can close my eyes and go to the stars if I choose and that can be literal or metaphorical, it’s irrelevant. An ego is a tool or a weapon, and many spiritualists have actually weaponized it by trying to transcend it.
You give and take power by awareness. Like electricity, you can turn the switch on or off. You are aware of where the switch is, and you use it as needed. Similarly, you become aware of your ego, and you use it as needed. Most do not see the space between themselves and the ego, and again this has nothing to do with religion or spirituality really. This is just how one goes about in this world. You can pray to your cat for all I care. You can believe there is no god. Whatever.
But at the end of the day, can you answer the question of who you are? Are you purely your body? Fine – how do you breathe? How do you regulate your hormones? How do you regulate your temperature? We all know there are things we know without knowing how because we are more than the persona we play in our day to day lives. Or maybe not, I don’t know.
That’s the point, the only way to find an answer is to ask a question. To contemplate and be open to a response – whether that’s amongst peers or yourself. To divide yourself into solely one bucket/group/whatever is to rob yourself the experience of everything. The Middle Way is to see all and to walk amongst all. It eliminates nothing and includes everything. It is clinging to nothing, not even the notion of yourself, because one day, I’m going to be dead, and I’ll go wherever I go beyond that. Your ego wants you to think everything is do or die, because, in truth, your ego will die.
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