The Middle Position in Theory and Practice
This volume seeks to understand early Buddhist Teachings as a critical response to the binary opposition between two perennial worldviews, spiritual eternalism and materialist annihilationism. The first is the theory of the metaphysical self, a self that is distinct from the physical body. The second is the theory of the physical self, a self that is identical with the physical body. It is by keeping itself equally aloof from these two theoretical views of the self that early Buddhism becomes a "middle position".
If the doctrine of dependent arising is called the "middle doctrine", this is because it transcends the mutual conflict between spiritual eternalism and materialist annihilationism. If the noble eightfold path is called the "middle path", this is because, in the self same manner, it transcends the mutual conflict between the two practices associated with the two theoretical views, namely, self-mortification and sensual indulgence.