In the second episode, we mentioned that Buddha realized the Middle Way, that’s when he decided to end his ascetic practice. But what is the Middle Way? To give you some context, during the time of the Buddha, there were two schools of thought.
The first one is that, nothing happens after you die, so might as well enjoy all aspects of life. People who belonged to this school of thought lived in extreme indulgence. Think of Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night music video, except it’s always Friday night. Isn’t that exhausting?
On the other extreme, people thought that if one suffered in this life, then one would be able to enjoy the afterlife. For example, my friend, who is getting married soon, is depriving herself of anything delicious, because she wants that moment of glory on her wedding day.
These two schools of thought didn’t just exist in ancient India, they exist in our everyday lives. We categorize our experiences into the “good” and “bad” categories. We want more of the good, and less of the bad. But the Buddha realized that there is no absolute good or bad. There is only reality. Once we can accept that our experiences are just part of the journey, doors will open for us. Next time when you encounter something that makes you happy, enjoy it, but don’t try to hold on to it. If you encounter something that makes you feel negatively, know that there is a silver lining, even though it’s hard to see right now. If we can practice that, then we’ll be able to navigate life much more smoothly.