Philosophy :Practical significance of the Middle Path of Buddha

The Middle path or what is called as the “Madhyam Marg” is one of the most distinctive features of the Buddhist philosophy.

Buddha denied aligning oneself to extremes in any situation of life.So, unlike other religions which upheld extreme penance as the way to attain enlightenment, Buddha chose to propagate a balanced way of life.

This makes Buddhism a comparatively pragmatic philosophy. The impact of this stance of the Middle Path is clearly visible in all the theories of Buddhism, especially ,its central theory of Pratityasamutpada*.

The teaching of opting for the middle path or Madhyam Marg has a considerable significance in our practical life as well.

  • Political significance:
    • Avoiding extremes in our decision making would lead to a balanced decision making which could be widely acceptable. For instance, the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu dispute over the river water of Cauvery should be such that the needs of all the stakeholders are fulfilled.
    • This, in turn ,leads to utilitarianism, that is, maximum good to maximum number. 
    • Also, it is in line with the principle of distributive justice(socially just allocation of goods). 
  • Significance in establishing harmony and unity in the society:
    • It would create a situation where violence on the basis of exclusivism of any kind, maybe religion/caste, gender, economic status among others would be annulled.
    • Mahatma Gandhi gave a theory called satvadharmasambhava., according to which, there must be mutual tolerance and harmony among all the religions. Here as well, the middle path theory finds significance as no one would take an extreme stand of imposing his own religion on anyone else. On the other hand, this could help in creating a universal religion which inculcates the significant features of other religions.
    • So, the differences on various grounds which persist in the society for long could be addressed and resolved.
  • Day-to-day significance:
    • It has a considerable significance in overcoming the dilemmas which appear in our day-to-day life.
    • It could help in living a balanced and peaceful life as we would prefer to avoid any kind of extremes in our life. For eg. avoiding too much sleeping or eating keeps us healthy and wise. Also, establishing a control over our extreme animal desires would bring peace and balance.

Thus, there is a multi-dimensional significance of the Buddhist Madhyam Marg and being quite pragmatic in essence , must find a consistent application.

*Pratityasamutpada:

The theory of causation of Buddhism. It says that effect exists till the cause does so and vanishes thereafter. There have been other views related to causation which said that:

a.) cause exists before effect b.) effect is inherent in the cause.

Buddhism takes a middle path and gives the theory of Pratityasamutpada(Paticcasamutpada)

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