THE MIDDLE WAY and PANORAMIC SENSING
Panoramic sensing is a way of using the senses,
without any sensory indulgence or sensory withdrawal.
Continued from Buddhism, Wheels and Repetitions
Buddha's Early Life and The Middle Way
Thus, he experienced the two extremes of unrestrained sensual pleasure and sensual withdrawal. Then he realised there was a third way to look for and find happiness and fulfilment in life. He called this 'The Middle Way'.
It is clearly written and unquestioned by all Buddhists that The Middle Way is a way between the two extremes of sensual indulgence (as a prince) and sensory withdrawal (as an ascetic). It is usually understood as a way of approaching life, a mental and emotional attitude to life.
The Middle Way and The Third Noble Truth
The Middle Way and the Third Truth are both essentially about, or should indicate, a way to get life to run smoothly, to make it Sukkha.
The Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's Third Truth: The Cessation of Dukkha, says that Dukkha will cease when wanting ceases, and wanting may be stopped wherever there is delight and pleasure. In summary versions, this is usually understood as renunciation. However, wanting can be stopped by most forms of meditation, prayer, selflessness, devotion, worship, sacrifice, or love, etc. ... This most trustworthy and detailed text, has no clear specific interpretation.
The subject matter in the full text of the Third Truth (and the Second) in the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna, is incredibly long-winded. It connects the Aggregates (now expanded to a list of Ten Aggregates), to each of the six senses; it lists sixty steps in the sensory process. It describes something which happens not only with the mind, but also with the eye, the ear, the nose, the mouth and the tactile sense.
So i wanted to know if or how the Middle Way could be applied to the Third Truth.
When applied to the mind, i could only understand the Middle Way as a vague attitude to life, maybe moderation, or non-attachment, and there are many other possible applications, but there was nothing decisive, nothing definite, just a broad area in between the two extremes.
When applied to the body it seemed to indicate taking care of the body, not ignoring it or being finicky and over-sanitised. Again, this left a vague, broad area of moderation.
But then i asked myself, could the two extremes of sensual indulgence and sensory withdrawal be applied to the physical senses? ... What else could i do with my eyes apart from focusing with them or closing them? ... And immediately i thought of how some birds and horses see their entire visual field without focusing on anything special, with their so-called peripheral vision. This was a clear and specific third way. And my first experiments and the practical development of this idea continues in Seeing. The results are described throughout this site.
The Middle Way is a way between sensory indulgence and sensual withdrawal. Panoramic sensing fulfills these criteria perfectly.
And if panoramic sensing isn't exactly the answer, then i suggest it must be part of it – simply because it has nothing to do with sensual indulgence or sensual withdrawal.
It avoids the pleasure which leads to wanting more. The only thing panoramic sensing leads to, if it is pleasurable, is more panoramic sensing.
Panoramic Sensing is discussed in Part One of this site. The discussion starts in The Sense of it All
The Middle Way is usually understood as either renunciation, moderation, or the eightfold path. Panoramic sensing is an ideal example of mindfulness and absorption, the last two steps of the eightfold path.
I doubt Buddha would have suggested either moderation or renunciation as both ideas already existed in Hinduism, and i believe his message was something new. Renunciation is also an integral part of the ascetic way, and thus one of the two extremes which the Middle Way avoids.
However, the panoramic way of receptive sensing without wanting is a practical basis for any renunciation. And, it's impossible to be anything but moderate, when action is balanced with panoramic sensing.