In the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism, the term "Middle Way" was used in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, which the Buddhist tradition regards to be the first teaching that the Buddha delivered after his awakening. In this sutta, the Buddha describes the Noble Eightfold Path as the middle way of moderation, between the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-mortification:
According to the scriptural account, when the Buddha delivered the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta, he was addressing five ascetics with whom he had previously practiced severe austerities. Thus, it is this personal context as well as the broader context of Indian shramanic practices that gives particular relevancy to the caveat against the extreme (Pali: antā) of self-mortification (Pali attakilamatha).
Later Pali literature has also used the phrase Middle Way to refer to the Buddha's teaching of dependent origination as a view between the extremes of eternalism and annihilationism.