The Middle Way (Beyond Fight or Flight Response)


I have been giving a lot of thought as to what causes us to not live in peace and harmony more often than not.  I am writing this as an observer of myself and others.  My purpose is to learn from unnecessary suffering.

So, what is happening when we have an inner reaction to an external stimuli and that reaction causes us to waiver from the middle way of inner peace?  How can we respond from a place of peace versus fear (which is fight or flight response or better said reaction)?

Part of solving this puzzle is to understand the human brain which is a triune brain (three brains in one).


Brain One:    Center of the Brain “R complex” snakes, lizards

Brain Two:    Wrapped around Brain One “limbic system” or “old mammalian brain” dogs, cats

Brain Three:  Outside Surface (Wrapped around Brain Two!) “neocortex” primates, especially human primates

(To read more about the triune brain click on this link)

When we are in fear (actual or imagined) we are reacting from our reptilian brain (fight or flight).  This part of the brain is necessary for reacting to life threatening events.  If we allow ourselves to react to life events that are not life threatening from the reptilian brain we will be leading very unconscious lives based on fear.  We will be on the defense and on the lookout for the saber tooth tiger we know is going to attack at anytime.

We are able to make a choice through our emotions and behavior when we function from our limbic brain.  From this brain we can manage the fight or flight reaction, we can make a choice how we respond.

When we are functioning from our cortex brain we are in control of purposeful behaviors and decision-making.  We are most conscious and aware in this brain functioning.

As I am writing this I am seeing the triune brain as creating three realms of experience, the Underworld, Mid-world and Upper world.  Underworld (Hell – Fear) Mid-world (material – matter- third dimensional living).  I am not so sure that we have fully embraced the Upper world of Heaven.  Maybe we will evolve a fourth brain. Maybe our spiritual masters evolved a fourth brain of  Consciousness.  Maybe they were trying to tell us that we can do the same if we follow their disciplines.

Anyway…back to the fight or flight response… Another way to look at this is from the perspective of passive-aggressive behavior.  Flight is passive and fight is aggressive.  Neither of these behaviors works well for resolving situations that take us away from peace.  The middle way is neither passive nor aggressive but a sort of open assertiveness that creates a win-win outcome.

It is also helpful to imagine a pendulum swinging from one extreme to another, when we enter the middle way we rise above both extremes.  Here is a cute analogy of the middle way…A little ant, clinging to the tip of a pendulum, was swinging giddily to and fro, just as we swing to and fro, clinging to our emotions: love and hate, joy and sadness. We identify ourselves with them, we are them. After some time the little ant tired of the ceaseless, relentless movement discovered that he could climb further up the pendulum to a different and more restful world. If we emulate the little ant, no longer identifying ourselves with extremes, the pendulum goes on swinging but somehow we know that we are not that constant movement.

The Middle Way – Peace!





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