Middle Path

Religious schools and traditions

The concept of the Middle Path (Skt. Madhyamaka or Madhyamika, ‘Middle Way school’) refers to a Buddhist doctrine that was extremely influential in Mahayana Buddhism. Its roots go back to the renowned philosopher-monk Nagarjuna.

The ‘philosophy of emptiness’ lies at the core of the Madhyamaka doctrine. It states that all things exist only in dependence upon each other, and are thus in fact empty. In its argumentation, this doctrine applies dialectical negation, meaning it rejects both the existence and the non-existence of things as false and extreme premises, and instead proclaims the ‘Middle Path’ of dependent origination.

An example: there is no self, yet neither is the self non-existent. The truth resides in the middle, in emptiness. In other words, the self exists only in dependence on the factors and circumstances that form it.