When we asked our panelists, "What is the essence of the Buddhist approach to renunciation and sensuality?" their answers began with a position that all Buddhist sects hold in common: that the dharma is the "middle way" between extremes of harsh asceticism and headlong indulgence in sensuality. This is the expression the Buddha originally used to distinguish his path from that of his Hindu teachers. When Gautama Shakyamuni first decided to try to free himself from a world that had sickness, old age and death as its inevitable result, he followed the advice of his teachers and tried to separate himself in meditation practice from his senses—to still his thoughts, kill his emotions, and destroy his body's desire for material things. At a certain point he abandoned this approach as ineffective and invented a new style of moral restraint that charted a middle way between the extremes of harsh rejection of the phenomenal world and sensory indulgence in it.
Buddhadharma: Bhante Piyananda, in your book Saffron Days In L.A., you quote several verses from the Dhammapada: