The challenge of walking the middle way is that extremists on both sides only see their enemy behind you
This thought came to me while taking a shower – not sure why, but probably as a result of being misunderstood and misrepresented by both sides in recent discussions I have had regarding Science vs Faith. Zealots on both sides have been so bound up in their own points of view that in each case, I have been perceived as representing the opposition.
Science, or more accurately, scientists (also many athiests – more accurately described as anti-religionists), still predominantly regard matter (physical phenomenon) as the ultimate reality. This mind set believes we are independent of one another, that boundaries exist between us, and that when we die there is nothing but oblivion.
On the other hand, there are those who believe the ultimate truth to be that nothing really exists outside the mind’s faculty of discrimination – that phenomena fade in and out of existence constantly, depending on causes and conditions, and that existence like the perception of the flickering picture on a TV screen is only perceived to be solid and real. The only thing that is eternal (yet constantly changing) is our karma. This nihilistic view can be overwhelmingly negative.
Thanks to Nagarjuna, we have a cohesive understanding of our lives in the Buddhist middle-way philosophy that posits reality as we experience it in human form displays both of the above aspects – conventional reality, and emptiness, or sunyata – like two sides of a coin. It’s fascinating to see that as modern quantum physics has unfolded how similar notions of interconnectedness, non-reality, relativity, wave/particle non-duality etc. initially confronted with doubt and resistance, have come to be accepted. Thats is to say, phenomena (that are in themselevs an ultimate truth) manifest different aspects depending on our relative observation.