October 3, 1997
To sanctify or spiritualize life is exceptionally difficult, whilst materialize and secularize life is particularly easy.
The question is not to choose a difficult or an easy way, but to choose a righteous way, which benefits us and others. And this way is the Middle Way.
So, is this way difficult or easy? How can we enter this path?
Does the Middle Way bring a balance to spirituality and the material?
To choose this way, we should sacrifice our preference for a life that goes too far into spirituality or the material, since either spiritual or material, is living for individualism or the self-centeredness.
Going too far in spirituality is an expression of selfishness, since we forget our duties toward the family and society, we choose to live a quiet life, a bliss for ourselves. We forget that once we found that bliss and the deliverance for ourselves, we should get back and share these useful experiences with others so that they can attain the same thing.
On the other hand, living a material life is obviously selfish, with desire for pleasure, comfort, beauty, and maximum enjoyment.
To talk about the Middle Way is easy, but choosing to live it and steeping into it is very difficult.
What is the Middle Way? How can we tread the Middle Way? Moreover, how can we keep the balance? Does this require our greatest patience or self-effacing? How can we deal with the fear of loosing what we have enjoyed so much in the sublime life of spirituality, of awakening, of clear light?
To minimize pleasures of a material life or pleasures in a spiritual life, which is more difficult? What is more important? What could bring more regrets?
How can we control ourselves to live in the Middle Way, without inclining to spirituality or the material?
Those who are determined to have a spiritual life, and want to keep a balance, need to step back into the material life. So, in that case does a material life affect and stain them with that they had strived so hard to leave behind?
Does living in the Middle Way means living in nothingness, or without making a difference between what is material and what is spiritual? Only the non-differentiation can stand up to the fear of loss of either spirituality or the material, deliverance or mundane pleasures.
When we see ourselves as this or that, all are delusions. We have deceived ourselves too much on our path. When we drink, we think that we get drunk, but actually, the alcoholic substance has an effect on our body and mind. When we wear nice clothes, accessories, and makeup, we think that we are young and good-looking, but these are only cosmetics and clothes that make us turn into a different person that we take as our true self. When we practice spirituality, giving up everything to become a devotee, we fool ourselves as a Zen master. However, is that person our true self? If we let that Zen master eat meat, work hard, cope with all difficulties in life, it might not be too long before that spiritual life would come to an end.
To lead the Middle Way, we should open ourselves to a Vital Path. The Vital Path is a living path that is dynamic and beneficial for us and others. This path requires much more sacrifice in this present life.
The Vital Path a choice of an engaged life to every one around us, so that we can love and serve them, as well as to reach our own deliverance. This is the Path taught by Buddha: “Whenever a sentient being has not yet become Buddha, I shall not become Buddha.”