We’re finally under way with a society to promote the Middle Way! At the end of the Middle Way Study Retreat held in August, all the participants agreed to create a society to promote the study and practice of the Middle Way. You can now read about it on our website, http://www.middlewaysociety.org .
Why a society? Well, it seems far too important to be left to just one person. I want to find as many people as possible who share that general orientation and work with them. There are lots of people who are looking for a coherent way of understanding what our values ought to be that goes beyond social convention and individual choice, now that the dogmas of religion and authoritarian politics no longer hold sway. The Middle Way could help them, but the message just isn’t getting across sufficiently.
The purpose of the Middle Way is practical, and it can provide a clearer rationale for a wide range of practices, from meditation and the arts through to critical thinking, that can help to open up the clenched obsessiveness of the egoistic left hemisphere that thinks it has the whole story. It can also provide a distinctive approach to those practices, that involves recognition that what makes any of them effective is a balanced flexibility of perspective.
I wanted to start a new organisation, because there is currently no organisation clearly devoted to the Middle Way as such, the Middle Way as a genuinely universal principle rather than just an aspect of Buddhism. There are Buddhist organisations, but these all too often put the traditional metaphysical beliefs of Buddhism first and the Middle Way a poor second, even though there are many good things that they do. Even Secular Buddhism, although it provides a meeting point for people interested in Buddhism who are prepared to challenge the tradition, does not have a clear rationale for really focused action. So although I will remain in contact with Secular Buddhism, the clear pursuit of the Middle Way is far more important.
We want to concentrate on quality of membership rather than just having lots of people vaguely signed up on the web. To that end, of course there will be web discussions, but we also want to hold regular retreats for detailed study and practice. We’d like to hold talks in different localities and support local groups.
All readers of this blog are invited to visit the site and to subscribe to the society. It’s an opportunity to participate in an exciting new venture – the living of a new practical philosophy that takes the best from religion whilst being clearly opposed to religious metaphysics.