THE MIDDLE WAY and PANORAMIC SENSING
Panoramic sensing is a way of using the senses,
without any sensory indulgence or sensory withdrawal.
This essay is a personal anecdote. It is not meant as proof.
Buddha's Development 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 Buddhists that The Middle Way is a way between the two extremes of sensual indulgence (as a prince) and sensory withdrawal (as an ascetic). (That it is unquestioned doesn't make anything true; it only means i don't have to argue it with any other Buddhists.)
The Middle Way and The Third Noble Truth
I felt the Middle Way led to 'release from suffering' and this was also the message in the Third Truth. I felt both were essentially about, or should indicate a way to get life to run smoothly, and make it Sukkha. And so i wanted to know if or how the Middle Way could be applied to the Third Truth.
The Mahasattipathana's Second and Third Truth discuss the cause and ending of Dukkha. The subject matter in the full text of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna, is incredibly long-winded. It connects the Aggregates (now expanded to a list of Ten Aggregates), to each of the six senses. Sixty steps in our sensory process are described. 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.
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 inbetween 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. The panorama sense 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. The only thing panoramic sensing leads to, if it is pleasurable, is more panoramic sensing.
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. However, the panoramic way of sensing without wanting is a basis for renunciation, and the receptivity it involves is an essential part of moderation.
See special Buddhist Index for further discussion of Buddhism