The Middle Way 2.0

How does anyone who is serious about Buddhism and mediation work towards samsaric liberation while raising to hyperactive kids, working for a cretinous despot who measures everything by its price tag and is smothered with inflating bills to pay for an extremely modest lifestyle for a small family living abroad during an extraordinarily bizzaro time in human history?

These are, indeed, challenging circumstances: On the one hand, there’s a life of liberation from craving and suffering, on the other a life that most people now live to one degree or another.

Me? I keep meditating, I show up for work everyday and perform the usual tedious tasks — and I work towards not letting my kids turn out as neurotic as I did.

As for social support: Well, I have none — even after four years residing in what is perceived to be a very friendly country. All communication as to what is going on outside my cloistered life here in Australia is, sadly, funneled to me via Facebook, Twitter, Digg and a plethora of RSS feeds — none of which provide any substance but do temporarily satisfy my curiosity.

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  1. JYM said:

    That’a great question, and I’m sure one which is relevant to many of us! I know I’ve asked it myself… My intentions of living quietly meditating on the mountainside in India were dashed (no regrets) when my partner (now wife) became pregnant with our little girl – so… How to integrate my spiritual life with living in the West, being with my wonderful family and working to support them…!?
    The key elements of this answer are three-fold. Firstly, a regular practice is essential (depending on what kind of path your on, mine is somewhat akin to Zen which of course revolves around silent sitting as the core ‘effort’). Squeezing in those quarter or half hour sits, occasionally an hour when everyone else has gone to bed, gratefully relishing those moments sitting in the car at traffic lights to stop and ‘just be’… Also making the decision to have a retreat of some kind every year makes a huge difference… a week or more preferably; if not a formal retreat then some time alone, perhaps in nature, or at least away from too many people, responsibilities, and having to live through the personality to interact with the world… It may be difficult to arrange but it should be possible. I’ve agreed to let me wife have a break away to do what she needs for herself in exchange for my retreat time!
    Secondly bringing mindfulness, clear awareness, and compassionate intention into every moment as much as you can means all that you do becomes your practice… Since the Buddha Nature is within YOU there is no time when you cannot connect with yourself – you are always there! Understandably there will be very few moments of sublime peace amongst screaming kids at bedtime (for example), but it’s about treading your path with every step. In a way, having a job filled with ‘tedious’ tasks may allow you the space to keep your intention and connection to come back to yourself and your practice… This leads me to the third element in my answer: ‘Right Living’
    Living in a balanced, simple way, following the ‘middle path’, being kind and mindful and doing work that doesn’t compromise your essential beliefs (a Buddhist in an abbatoir would do well to quit) is a part of living with Buddhism in the world, and may require changes in certain areas, but can be done. For reasons beyond our ken, Karmic and who knows what else, we’re not all supposed to be monks, nuns or hermits – in some ways those extreme paths are perhaps easier to tread… But as Fathers, Mothers, Husbands, Wives, Ordinary (I use that word in it’s beautiful sense) people living in the world, we can tread the path and embody it to the best of our ability. In some ways I’d love to go live in the Himalayas by myself or with other like-spirited seekers, but that option, for now, is not for me.
    I hope those thoughts give you some helpful perspectives, I guess when all’s said and done there is no ‘answer’ as such, but simply us all finding our own way…
    Good Luck and Be Blessed

  2. Eddie said:

    Brilliant reply!

    I do practice regularly in the early mornings and, after reading Blofeld’s ‘The Zen Teaching of Huang Po’ I have a better understanding that there is really no distinction between within and without in regards to Buddha nature.

    As for work… well, that is where a lot of conflict lies. My job, in some ways, is to dress up the ‘ordinary’ for more mass appeal. This sometimes becomes too much of a focus, where my own ‘ordinary’ life seems trite.

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