Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Eight-fold Noble Path

From his origins in India, Gautama Buddha’s message of sublime hope has inspired billions of people for more than 2,000 years. To Buddha, one of the realities of life was suffering. An escape from this plight was possible by adopting an enlightened attitude, one of which was the doctrine of impermanence. Everything in the world is changing. Nothing is permanent; eventually, all things pass away.
What seems to be the stability of appearances is really an illusion. Buddha referred to the state of things not a “being” but as “becoming,” a constant shifting and rearrangement of the parts. Wisdom lies in our ability to cope with impermanence. We must learn to remain calm and serene in the midst of a changing world. One way to achieve this is through the practice of universal compassion. Buddha described it as a form of loving-kindness that extends to all human beings without distinction. This kindness offers comfort to all humanity because suffering is their common lot. We must nurture it and allow it to fill the soul until re reach a state of inner bliss called “nirvana” or “nibbana.” According to Buddha, this is the ultimate purpose of life.
We should strive t achieve inner serenity through the eight-fold noble path as suggested by Buddha. The eight elements of the path are:

1.      Right thinking
2.      Right ideas
3.      Right desire
4.      Right language
5.      Right attitude
6.      Right effort
7.      Right action
8.      Right livelihood
We must first engage in “right thinking.’ If we champion a noble cause, we also become noble-minded. Right thinking gives us the right ideas and desires, and together they will help us engage in right actions. To engage in right thinking means to reflect about life through a process of regular meditation. Great are the rewards for those who practice it faithfully. The promising thing is that everyone is able to meditate because it is so simple and natural.

Through right thinking, the mind generates right ideas, like a capacity to distinguish between good and evil. Sublime thoughts make a sublime person and are a key to enjoying inner peace. To Buddha, we are made of something more than just flesh and blood. We are what we think. The essence of a person is the way he thinks and the ideas he holds, which determine his personality entirely. Basically, different ideas are what distinguish people from one another, not physical attributes, People who possess noble ideas will display noble characters.
Right desires emanate from intense reflection. The golden rule according to Buddha is to be moderate in all our desires; the constant craving within us must be contained. One way to do it is through acts of generosity. Right language lies in abstaining from lying, abusive words, and idle chatter. A right attitude is essential for a true understanding of life. One should, to a fair degree, make a right effort, that is exert oneself to achieve fruitful results.
Right action is the end result of practising the above three steps. In essence, it leads to a life of universal compassion. It is important to know what is right and to do what is right.
Finally, for right livelihood, earn your living thorough honest means.

I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from my book.  I will be posting more excerpts in future posts, so please come back.  Click here to buy your copy of A Book of Wisdom and Delight from Amazon today.

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