Middle Way

Motivation, Meaning, Method

Foundation View Practice


The path of selflessness (enlightenment) is like a razor’s edge. If you fall left or right, into the abyss of dualism, good and bad, you turn from a Buddha into ten thousand devils… one of the great Zen masters has been quoted to this extent, and it may well serve as a motto for this article.


Lord Atisha was asked about what those will get who practice for worldly – selfish – aims only; his answer was that they will get what they want. When further asked what the future life result of such practice will be, his answer consisted of merely three words:
Hell, hungry ghost, animal.


All of the Buddha’s 84.000 methods aim to destroy self-grasping and self-cherishing. Reaching out with compassion and reaching in through wisdom realizing emptiness, ‘in’ and ‘out’ become interchangeable and eventually disappear altogether in the union of the ‘two truths’, relative and absolute.

Middle Way

In a nutshell’s nutshell, the middle way is the harmony of emptiness – the ultimate nature of everything, and dependent arising – the appearance of everything.

As Je Tsongkhapa pointed out, unless grasping at even the most subtle concept of inherent existence is overcome, enlightenment can not happen, which has been misunderstood as nihilism.

It’s easy to see though, that every contributing factor to a dependently-arising phenomenon is yet again consisting of myriad factors, which in turn have arisen depending on causes and conditions, and so on without end. That cause and result have no inherent existence doesn’t mean they are not effective, quite the opposite, as cause and result imply change, which would be impossible if phenomena were fixed or existent per se.

Therefore – Medicine Buddha is the result of his aspiration prayers and his meditation practice, for example. Whether we can attain his view and his qualities, depends on our motivation and practice.

In the discussion about Dorje Shugden, some nihilists argue that since nothing exists inherently, why worry if he’s good or bad, while some eternalists say he truly exists, and argue whether he is enlightened or a demon.

Yet, wouldn’t it be more interesting and revealing if we applied the same principles of emptiness/dependent arising, which also clearly include us – our motivation and method – to arrive at a view that will help us on?

Indeed, one good look shows what Dorje Shugden is ‘made of’ (arisen from) and what he stands for…

Meaning is the result of MOTIVATION and METHOD. 

Dorje Shugden’s Main Attributes

  • Robes – pratimoksha, keeping the vows, holding them sacred: the foundation.
  • Wisdom sword – cutting through the notion of ‘Self’/seeking samsaric pleasures, and
  • Enemy heart – destroying the notion of attachment to the bliss of liberation/seeking nirvanic pleasures: the practice, union of wisdom and compassion.
  • Nagarjuna hat – prasangika madhyamika philosophy, free of the extremes of existence and non-existence: the highest view.

Our Main Attributes

Something that is dangerously overlooked, now that so many have found their favorite new enemy, is our own involvement, our own being-a-factor in anything that appears to us.

Making anything into THE source of our happiness or problems is just the kind of extreme that Buddhist are proud to be free of, and can indeed be called a degeneration into spirit worship.

An old lady attains rainbow body by worshipping a dog’s tooth with total faith, believing it to be a holy relic, while Asanga can’t see always-present Maitreya during years and years of retreat because of lacking compassion…

It is quite rare to find someone who, having chanted a few Manis, is permanently overwhelmed with irresistible compassion, and finds it impossible to have an evil thought ever after, yet does that make us doubt the power of Chenrezig?

The foundation of our practice, and the view with which we perform it – or in other words, our motivation and our understanding of its meaning, these are crucial factors to the results attained, and in a way even more important than the method used.

Many great masters have therefore said that the preliminaries are more important than the main practice… quantum physics (Bohm etc) have proven that there’s no such thing as a neutral observer… we, our karmic disposition, arise simultaneously with whatever ‘we’ experience, and cannot be extricated from this whole, this conglomerate of cause-and-effect strands that are continuously weaving the tapestry of here-and-now.

The MEANING of something is derived from MOTIVATION and METHOD; yet the METHOD is influenced by understanding its MEANING and MOTIVATION, which in turn increases or decreases with our present METHOD that hopefully penetrates deeper into the MEANING… I wish I could write this in the form of a spiral…

May I be forgiven if these thoughts lack subtlety, exactness and depth, this is just to point out something that should be ever so obvious, and easily observable in our day-to-day experience.

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  1. The above explanation seems rather deep and a bit confusing for me. I pray that I’m able to have the merits to be able to understand the above if not in this life may it be in my future life.

  2. Thank you for sharing this article. The article lets us know that no matter what the situation is, it all depends on how we view the situation. When there is a problem, we can try taking a softer approach, and as the time and other factors changes, we can then change the approach that we use to better suit the situation. It explains more about the value of impermanence.

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.…Instead of turning away people who practise Dorje Shugden, we should be kind to them. Give them logic and wisdom without fear, then in time they give up the ‘wrong’ practice. Actually Shugden practitioners are not doing anything wrong. But hypothetically, if they are, wouldn’t it be more Buddhistic to be accepting? So those who have views against Dorje Shugden should contemplate this. Those practicing Dorje Shugden should forbear with extreme patience, fortitude and keep your commitments. The time will come as predicted that Dorje Shugden’s practice and it’s terrific quick benefits will be embraced by the world and it will be a practice of many beings.

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