Today I am going to cover the eight items within the Noble Eightfold Path with a reminder this is my sandbox and not an official Buddhist teaching and as always, comments and discussion are always welcome.
The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows.
Right Concentration (or Meditation)
Right Understanding (Insight/View)
Right Resolve (Thought/Aspirations/Intentions)
Right Speech This is one that I recently had a debate on as someone told me swear words were perfectly fine to use in this day and age but I asked the appropriateness of use in a school, church or most places of business. There is no debate, the use of swear words is not Right Speech. Right Speech is avoiding abusive speech as well as being honest and avoiding decisive speech. Think of this also as in how you speak to others. Are you taking your anger out on them? Are you treating them with respect? Hopefully you are not talking badly behind their backs.
Right Action along the lines of Right Speech, do not be abusive or be harmful to others. You want to conduct yourself in a responsible manner. Be helpful to others. Sometimes when I see something such as a spill or something that splashed on the counter, even though someone else made the mess, I’ll clean it up so someone doesn’t have to do it later. (I’ll be honest, I don’t always, lol )
Right Livelihood This refers to working an ethical job. One that does not harm or is dishonest to others. Something that does not involve cheating, lying, stealing, selling drugs, scams and the such.
Right Effort involves practicing, following the items I suggested in my blogs about the Four Noble Truths. You want to write down, seek the source and eradicate your sufferings. Continue this practice everyday. Continue to read and learn about Buddhism and utilize meditation.
Right Mindfulness I mentioned something similar under Right Actions. How great would it be for you to see something that needs to be done and perform that action, such as cleaning up that counter? But it goes beyond that as well. Be mindful of things that affect you. Be mindful of your speech and your actions. Alcohol, drugs and the like can also adversely affect your mindfulness.(See also 5 Precepts)
Right Concentration This is where I suffer the most. I can be reading a book and before I know it, I have trailed off, thinking of work, suddenly I have read a whole page of words and I haven’t a clue what I just read. Same thing when I am suppose to be listening, something will grab my attention, my mind trails off and when I return, I have missed a paragraph or two of information. Right Concentration is being focused. To concentrate on issues you may face, it is also helpful to Meditate or do some breathing exercises.
Right Understanding (View) refers to you needing the correct perspective and understanding. When I am uncertain, I try to detach myself from being right or wrong and just try to see things for what they are. Avoid the pitfalls immediately taking a Learned View. A Learned view is something that we have been taught throughout our lives that may not be correct.
Right Resolve (Intention) What are you trying to accomplish? Your intentions should be riding yourself of your suffering, anger, bad behavior with constant practice. Be Happy! What are your intention when it comes to others? I find it true, that if you want your life to be better, make the lives of the people who surround you better.
There are countless websites that can go into the Eightfold Path in greater detail, some even give you more examples of the above and I definitely suggest reading through them. You can even add your comments below. I have discussed a few things like swear words and the use of alcohol (or intoxicants). Ultimately it is not up to me to tell someone if they are right and wrong on how they follow Buddhism. I try not to use swear words but do tend to enjoy a glass of wine or beer. Coincidentally, I do want to try the 30 day no-alcohol challenge. 12 years ago, I stopped drinking, cigarettes and caffeine. I’m still a non-smoker, I stopped drinking for about 2 years but I only made it a month without a cup of coffee. There are so many outings and get-togethers during the month that it makes the 30 day challenge, challenging, but if I am just mindful about it, I shouldn’t have an issue.
You will also hear terms like “The Middle Way” and I have even referred to “Everything in Balance”, these are good ways to view how you want to guide your life.
Homework is to continue working on your list. Think about how the Noble Eightfold Path interacts with your list. My next blog will cover some of my personal thoughts on Buddhism. In the meantime, feel free to comment, get a discussion going!