Understanding metaphysics

The use and application of the concept of metaphysics seems to be by far the most controversial element that creates issues for those encountering Middle Way Philosophy. Some are offended because the use of the term is not that of modern analytic philosophy, but is rather inspired by past thinkers such as the Buddha and Karl Popper. Others just find it conceptually demanding. Like the use of any other term, ‘metaphysics’ is a convenient label. I have yet to find a better label for it. It is important to try to understand the phenomenon that is being pointed at in relation to one’s own experience, rather than getting hung up on the label.

The concept of avoiding metaphysics to find the Middle Way also has a negative emphasis that needs balancing out with the positive emphasis in the concept of integration. Again, then, it is important to see the concept of metaphysics in perspective, both as part of a wider way of thinking and as part of a practice. You can encounter metaphysics most directly in the hindrances you may encounter if you try to meditate, for example – but the practice of meditation also has a positive purpose.

There are several resources that I have put up recently to help people get to grips with the concept of metaphysics. One is the About Metaphysics page with diagrams. There is also a basic audio introduction to metaphysics of 7 minutes, and a much more detailed audio explanation over 39 minutes that have now been created from the summer retreat recordings. These are available on the audio pages, but I will also embed them below here. However, the full detailed written account is one I’m still working on, and will appear in the fourth and final volume of the Middle Way Philosophy series, The Integration of Belief.

About Robert M Ellis

Robert M Ellis is the founder and chair of the Middle Way Society, and author of a number of books on Middle Way Philosophy, including the introductory 'Migglism' and the more in-depth 'Middle Way Philosophy' series. He has a Christian background, and about 20 years' past experience of practising Buddhism, but it was his Ph.D. studies in Philosophy that set him on the track of developing a systematic account of the Middle Way beyond any specific tradition. He has earned his living mainly by teaching, and more recently by online tutoring.

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