In this answer, I wrote a little addendum that picks on a little tick that I find common amongst all kinds of Buddhists. That moderation is a virtue in and of itself without regard to what the object of moderation is. That "going to extremes" is to be totally avoided for all extremes. That the Middle Way of the Buddha counsels moderation should be held for every practice.
That unlike Colby, we shouldn't go too far :)
I think this is wrong.
TADYATHA [OM] GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA
"It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment."
This is the mantra of the Heart Sutra and I interpret it as an exhortation by the Buddha that we should all go to an extreme. Now, regardless whether you think the Heart Sutra authoritative (please be respectful) I think the same exhortation can be found in the Pali Canon.
Consider MN 59:
"And what, Ananda, is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that? There is the case where a monk, with the complete transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception, enters & remains in the cessation of perception & feeling. This is another pleasure more extreme & refined than that."
Emphasis mine. That entire Sutta is understood to my mind as describing the Path and the actual attainment as ever more refined and extreme states of pleasure with the ultimate extreme equated with Nibbana.
If you look, in the Suttas the Buddha is very careful to describe the specific extremes that are to be avoided. I've looked, but can't find any Sutta where the Buddha proclaims that all extremes are to be avoided.
So my questions:
- Have I got this wrong or misunderstood?
- Are all extremes to be avoided?
- Is there any Sutta proclaiming that all extremes are to be avoided?
- Is moderation in everything a complete virtue?
- Is there anything we should not be moderate about?
- If not all extremes, then what is the total list of specific extremes the Buddha specifically warned us against?
BTW, I tagged this personal practice, because I'm of the view that this aversion to extremes is actually a hindrance to progress on the path. If we think that moderation is a virtue in all things we can use this to justify being lazy since we shouldn't be "trying too hard" anyway.