The Zen Master Hoshin lived in China many years. Then he returned to the northeastern part of Japan, where he taught his disciples. When he was getting very old, he told them a story he had heard in China. This is the story:
One year on...
THE MIDDLE PATH
Let me tell you about the middle path.
Dressing in rough and dirty garments, letting your hair grow matted, abstaining from eating any meat or fish, does not clean the one who is deluded. Mortifying the flesh through excessive hardship does not lead to a triumph over the senses. All self-inflicted suffering is useless as long as the feeling of self dominant.
You should lose your involvement with yourself and then eat and drink naturally, according to the needs of your body. Attachment to your appetites - whether you deprive or indulge - can lead to slavery, but satifying the needs of daily life is not wrong. Indeed, to keep a body in good health is a duty, for otherwise the mind will not stay trong and clear. This is the middle path.
From "Discourse II" Edited by Anne Bancroft
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