Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lesson 5 - The Path that Leads to the End of Suffering : The Noble Eight Fold Path

The Path that Leads to the End of Suffering : The Noble Eight Fold Path

No other religion or philosophy reveals so clearly the Path of Virtue, leading to deliverence. It is called the Noble Eight Fold Path because it is actually one path but is subdivided into eight sections. It is the buddhist code of mental and physical conduct which leads to the end of suffering, sorrow and despair; to the Perfect Peace, Nibbana.


The eight sections of the Path are not intented to be cultivated in the order they are given and the perfection of one stage is not required before another is begun. They must be regarded as a complete whole, requiring progress in all the sections. We practice and develop as we are able and progress in any section will lead to success in others. In its entirety, the Eightfold Path, leads to the cultured mind, for only when it is brought under control are we able to conquer greed, ill-will and delusion.

RIGHT UNDERSTANDING: Right understanding is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realise the Four Noble Truth. As such, right understanding is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right understanding is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right understanding is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right understanding yields right thoughts and right actions.

RIGHT THOUGHTS: are those free from lust, greed and desire; those free from hatred or ill-will; those free from crulety , unkindness or revenge. In the last analysis, it is thoughts which promote our deeds and if the thinking is promoted to a higher level our deeds and actions will automatically respond. Thinking is the action of the mind and can cause bad karma just as much as physical deeds.

RIGHT SPEECH: is the control of the tongue by right thought. Withholding oneself from untruthful, deceitful or harsh speech and from gossip or idle talk. In it's positive aspect it means to speak kindly and with tenderness to others; to be modest in referring to oneself and abstain from self-exaltation.

RIGHT ACTION: is not to take the life of any living creature; not to indulge in impproper sex relations; not to steal the property of another. In its fullest sense, it means to preform deeds which do not cause suffering to oneself and others.

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD: is to avoid occupations, hobbies or trades which cause or lead to suffering for other beings. This would include those which do not permit the practice of right action. A disciple of the Buddha should not obtain his or her living by deceit, trickery or usury. He or she should avoid the trade in arms and death dealing weapons, flesh, intoxicating drinks and drugs or of living beings. Our guiding principle is to work for happiness and welfare of mankind and not for its sorrow.

RIGHT EFFORT: is the endeavor we make to live a moral and blameless life. The four Right Efforts are classified as follows:
The effort to avoid evil not yet exsisting
The effort to overcome evil which already exists
The effort to develop good not yet existing
The effort to preserve the good already developed

RIGHT MINDFULNESS: is to be constantly vigilant over our thoughts, speech and actions. It is easier for us to do wrong when we are careless and thoughtless. We must cultivate an alertness of mind, which in controlling our conduct, will establish harmony and not discord. The early part of development of this mindfulness, will require a slowing down of our thinking, speech and actions. This gives us more time to consider the right or wrong of what we are going to say or do. In a short time the mind becomes trained to this positive thinking and saying or doing the right thing becomes automatic.

RIGHT CONCENTRATION: (or meditation) of all the gems of the Buddha's Teaching, this is the one of greatest brillance. Meditation is fairly new to the West but it has been known for thousands of years in the East. Already, however, there are many who have discovered its worth and the wonderful bliss of contentment it gives. It is unsurpassed as the means of obtaining the peace of mind which the wise are seeking to supplant the chaotic existence of modern living. It is not only the key to mind training but also the means by which we bring the mind under control. It opens the gate to insight and understanding of the Four Noble Truths, Anicca (impermanance), Dukka (suffering) and Anatta (obsence of a seperate soul) and leads to the unsurpassed vision of REALITY and TRUTH. Skillfull concentration and meditation are synonyms in Buddhist Philosophy. Meditation is not as some believe, sitting quietly and letting the mind wander with the hope that some superior or hitherto unrevealed wisdom, will drift in. Buddhist meditation is the exact opposite. After we learned to sit still and relaxed for a reasonable period we endeavour to develop "one-pointedness of mind". This means, training it to concentrate on one subject only, without jumping from idea to idea to idea, like a monkey jumping from tree to tree.

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