Sorry for the noobie lay questions.

Does the Buddha say that we can enjoy something for two different mutually exclusive reasons.

E.g. enjoying reading a book because it is innately pleasurable and because it is an extrinsic good in teaching me something.

It seems to me that there is no way to do so, that we cannot resolve opposites into one reason or meaning for being. That whatever you think of dialectics, nothing can be synthesized with an absolute opposite.

I think then that any reason or meaning is had to the exclusion of something else, and there is a fundamental deficiency in thought, such that any meaning is absolute i.e. a lie, or contradicted.


You might be asking several questions, but let me try to just answer the first one, where you ask,

Does the Buddha say that we can enjoy something for two different mutually exclusive reasons?

On the contrary, at least initially, the first of the "four noble truths" is that everything is dukkha (i.e. stressful, unsatisfactory, cause of anxiety, etc.).

It's important to understand dukkha: What are the twelve aspects of the Four Noble Truths?

Does the Buddha say that we can enjoy something for two different mutually exclusive reasons?

If you're asking, "What does the 'middle way' mean in Buddhism?", there's a Wikipedia article about that: Middle Way

In summary, I think that the 'Middle Way' doesn't mean "both of the two different mutually exclusive reasons" ... instead it usually means "neither of the two different mutually exclusive extremes".

For example:

  • Should we pursue sensory pleasure (hedonism), or, should we mortify the body with asceticism? The Buddha's "middle way" answer to that question was, "neither of those two extremes" (e.g. eat to live, but not live to eat).

  • Should we believe in eternal life of the self/soul after death, or, should we believe that death is annihilation? The answer is "neither".

  • Should we believe that everything exists, or, that nothing exists? No...

And so on.

The problem is that asking, "Is it this extreme, or is it that extreme?" implies that it's one extreme or the other: which reminds me of what's called a false dilemma, also known as a "fallacy of the excluded middle".

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  • hm thanks for the reply but i didn't really like it... i shouldn't really claim to be new to thinking about this. maybe i expressed myself badly, but i feel that that there is something unsettling there, about being unable to synthesize opposites. i welcome any further comment though, especially ones which draw more heavily from the sastra literature. thanks @ChrisW – satirical_buddhist Jan 28 '15 at 23:36
  • having thought a bit more i realized i agree... maybe in a world of permanence we could embrace both extremes. but yeah, thanks, thanks for the answer :) – satirical_buddhist Jan 28 '15 at 23:47

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