Aphorisms are short, pithy sayings that can be used to communicate a key idea in a short space. They have the big advantage of being easy to engage with and remember, and the big disadvantage of being open to a wide variety of interpretations.
Some thinkers that I have been inspired by to varying degrees, such as Nietzsche, Blake and Sangharakshita, have made interesting uses of aphorisms, and they can be used as the seed of a practice of reflection. The whole point is that they are not fully explained, but one is invited to do the explaining for oneself, by turning it over and seeing how it relates to one’s own experience. Whatever they are, aphorisms are not ‘truths’, and I cringe when people put aphorisms on Facebook and others write ‘so true’ underneath. Rather they are concentrated distillations of generalised experience, which may possibly relate to your own.
So, I thought I would try my hand at some aphorisms about Middle Way Philosophy. I will be interested to know if they are at all useful. Some of them may err on the side of stating the obvious, others by being over-provocative. Perhaps a few will hit the middle!
There is only one Middle Way, but many middle ways.
There is no such thing as extreme scepticism, only selective use of it.
Love the truth, but do not swear by it.
Truth is like a spouse: we need robust commitment without complete possession.
Relativising truth is like chopping up your beloved.
Art is an integration of meaning.
Metaphysics, like an offensive term, should be mentioned but not used.
Your metaphysical beliefs are only one type of tree in your mental forest.
There is no justification without ignorance.
Compassion is not adequate unless it is equally wisdom.
Every utterance is a metaphor.
There are no meaningless symbols.
To be good is to be adequate.
The fulfilment of every ethic requires the Middle Way.
Every fact is also a value, and every value also a fact.
The macrocosm resembles the microcosm in composition, not in substance.
There is only one cognitive bias.
If God was really dead, Nietzsche wouldn’t have needed to tell us about it.
If you can’t incrementalise it, you haven’t understood it.
Aphorisms are lozenges, not truths.