Following on from this and this thread, I'm going to expound my understanding / of the relevance of the Buddhadharma.

To avoid the extremes of thought, right up to any kind of differentiating consciousness if you can, is to live meaningfully. Because the mind cannot find meaning in fragments.

Consciousness has two aspects. The first is known as discriminating consciousness. This is taken to be the activities of cognition, of apprehension, and of discrimination (commonly, what we take to be memory, judgment, and reasoning.)

And to life valuably we do so without affirming either. Because there is no reality to the negative value of either extreme.

The object of inference is not ultimately real, it is a conceptual construction. And part of what the mind puts into it when the mind constructs the object of inference

And so to live the middle way without affirming either extreme, is an active / creative life. Because our world really does consist of both these facts, of no self and impermanence.

So my actual question is just: does this put me in any particular group of Buddhist thinkers?

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    What do you call "extremes of thought"? There's this popular notion that buddhism avoid any and all extremes, making it easy to label whatever is "too much" as an "extreme"and thus, "non buddhism". Yet, the expected concentration to develop all jhanas is "extreme"; a layman may also consider becoming a monk something extreme. Nibbana, is something quite extreme. So it is the motivation of a boddhisatva aiming for liberation.
    – user382
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 1:15
  • yeah i wouldn't make that mistake and i don't see how it's implied in my argument. but thanks.
    – user2512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 1:40
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    I did not assume you did, rather I'm justifying the significance of my question.
    – user382
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 1:54
  • the question was clear and to the point !
    – user2512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 9:45
  • hey, just saying that i kinda have given up on thinking on this, so i wanted to apologise to anyone i bugged in any way etc. maybe meditation will throw up new (less bad?) questions but i'm not really in a place to start that right now. peace :) !!
    – user2512
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 11:05

1 Answer 1


That doesn't sound like a Buddhist understanding of the middle way to me, although it is close in some ways. In Buddhism the two extremes are described in some places as the extremes of indulgence and mortification, and in others it is talked about as the extremes of eternalism and anihilationism. This second description is taken up in detail in Madhyamaka philosophy.

I'll tackle your question mostly from a Theravadin perspective since that's the tradition I'm in but you could do so from others as well.

The core problem with framing it that way is that from a Buddhist perspective, meaning is conceptual. From our experiences of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and cognizing we generate concepts to make sense of it all. We make concepts of objects, time, space, etc... so that we can interact with things, and these concepts become superimposed over out experience. Conventionally we can say that these concepts are real because they give us an accurate description of the world. But at the end of the day, these concepts aren't a part of the things they describe. They are mind-made representations, and when we mix them up with our experience, our whole way of viewing things becomes distorted.

Meaning is one of these concepts. It is something created by the mind to help us make sense of things. It is a valid concept because it really does give us a description of human action and purpose and such, but if we forget that it is something that we ourselves are generating then we can fall into a trap. For example, we start looking at things that occur naturally and somehow think that they also have some kind of purpose or meaning beyond what people do to them. Or we can look at ourselves looking for some sort of pre-established purpose that we just have to find, when in fact our purpose is something create and choose for ourselves.

To understand this deeper, I would recommend studying the Mulapariyaya Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html), the Madhupindika Sutta (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.018.than.html), and a very good but also concise book called Concept and Reality (http://www.seeingthroughthenet.net/files/eng/books/other/concept_and_reality.pdf)

  • i have read a LOT of buddhist work. i wasn't being socratic in the OP tho, tho i do think you misunderstood it tbh. i.e. nothing you said SEEMS to me to contradict anything i said ? can you edit your answer to show where you think what i said isn't buddhist :) ?
    – user2512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 0:20
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    OK then. I can go into more detail in my explanation then. Do you want me to expand what I said from a Theravadin perspective or a Madhyamaka perspective?
    – Bakmoon
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 0:22
  • i don't mind, as long as you explicily tackle what doesn't seem buddhist... i won't be offended!!!
    – user2512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 0:24
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    I've edited my answer to give more detail. Are there other matters I should cover?
    – Bakmoon
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 0:43
  • if you can, and i don't want to strain the point here, but can you show where i said that meaning isn't conceptual? i.e. include quotation next to the refutations :) !!? thanks, appreciate it.
    – user2512
    Commented Jan 29, 2015 at 1:11

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