by Ajahn Chah
The Buddha does not want us to follow the double path-desire and indulgence on the one hand and fear and aversion on the other. Just be aware of pleasure, he teaches. Anger, fear, dissatisfaction are not the path of the yogi but the path of-worldly people. The tranquil person walks the Middle Path of right practice, leaving grasping on the left and fear and aversion on the right.
One who undertakes the path of practice must follow this Middle Way: “I will not take interest in pleasure or pain. I will lay them down.” But, of course, it is hard at first. It is as though we are being kicked on both sides. Like a cowbell or a pendulum, we are knocked back and forth.
When Buddha preached his first sermon, he discoursed on these two extremes because this is where attachment lies. The desire for happiness kicks from one side; suffering and dissatisfaction kick from the other. These two are always besieging us. But when you walk the Middle Path, you put them both down.
Don’t you see? If you follow these extremes, you will simply strike out when you are angry and grab for what attracts you, without the slightest patience or forbearance. How long can you, go on being trapped in this way? Consider it: if you like something, you follow after it when liking arises, yet it is just drawing you on to seek suffering. This mind of desire is really clever. Where will it lead you next?
The Buddha teaches us to keep laying down the extremes. This is the path of right practice, the path leading out of birth and becoming. On this path, there is neither pleasure nor pain, neither good nor evil. Alas, the mass of humans filled with desiring just strive for pleasure and always bypass the middle, missing the Path of the Excellent One, the path of the seeker of truth. Attached to birth and becoming, happiness and suffering, good and evil, the one who does not travel this Middle Path cannot become a wise one, cannot find liberation. Our Path is straight, the path of tranquility and pure awareness, calmed of both elation and sorrow. If your heart is like this, you can stop asking other people for guidance.
You will see that when the heart / mind is unattached, it is abiding in its normal state. When it stirs from ‘the normal because of various thoughts and feelings, the process of thought construction takes place, in which illusions are created. Learn to see through this process. When the mind has stirred from normal, it leads away from right practice to one of the extremes of indulgence or aversion, thereby creating more illusion, more thought construction. Good or bad only arises in your mind. If-you keep a watch on your mind, studying this one topic your whole life, I guarantee that you will never be bored.