The Eightfold Path.
Buddha the enlightened one, taught his followers that by following the steps outlined in his Eightfold Path, anyone would attain the state of Nirvana, and bring an end to their cycle of rebirth and suffering.
Buddha’s Eight Fold path is symbolized by the eight spoke Dharma wheel, with each spoke representing one of the paths that leads to enlightenment. They are all attached to a wheel to symbolize how they are all connected together, and work in conjunction with each other to bring us to the awakened state of nirvana.
Buddha taught that the Eightfold Path which he also referred to as the middle way is the right path that leads us to the state of Nirvana. He who achieves enlightenment lets go of all of his attachments, and desires. By practicing meditation, and mindfulness a follower of the Eightfold Path will surely embrace nirvana.
What did Buddha mean by right?
Siddhartha, the Buddha, taught us that which is true, morally good, and honorable is right.
The Eightfold Path along with the Four Noble Truths were envisioned by the Buddha while meditating under a Bodhi tree. The Eightfold paths can be divided into three distinct categories which are:
3. Discipline through meditation
The first of these categories is wisdom. The paths of Right Understanding, and Right Intention both come under the category of wisdom.
The second category is morals. The paths of Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood all fall under the Morals category.
The third and final category is Discipline through Meditation. The paths of Right Mindfulness, Right Effort, and Right Concentration all come under this category.
Let’s explore Buddha’s Eightfold Path a little more thoroughly now. (It should be duly noted that Buddha’s Eightfold Path was not meant to be practiced in numerical order, but concurrently to each other.)
The path of Right View, also known as Right Understanding:
This challenging step on the path refers to seeing things as they truly are, and not as we would like them to be, or as how we imagine them to be.
Right Understanding involves knowing that there are consequences for all of our actions, not only in this lifetime, but in the next one as well. The Understanding that all of our actions words, and even our thoughts will have karmic consequences for us both good and bad. This karmic debt must be accounted for, and determines the future life a person will enter into.
The person who continues to think, act, and speak hatefully will continue to have negative karmic debt to pay for as long as they allow the hate to consume them. The negative person will continue to suffer through an endless cycle of unfavorable rebirths. The Four Noble truths teaches us that there is a way to end this suffering.
The Path of Right Intention:
This path is also known as “Right Thought”, or “Right Resolve”.
Our thoughts and intentions must be directed in a positive manner, to avoid creating more bad karma, and more suffering. If our intentions are negative, and our actions come from the hate, and anger within us, then both our actions and words are more likely to harm, and cause suffering in others.
The Law of Karma will cause our negative words and actions towards others to bring suffering upon ourselves as well. We must be mindful of our true intentions before we speak, act, or think in a negative and hurtful way. Buddha taught that our thoughts become things, and will manifest into reality, therefore we must be mindful to choose our thoughts wisely.
Buddha taught that Right Intention has three parts to it, they are, the intention of harmlessness, the intention of good will, and the intention of renunciation.
The path of Right Speech:
Right speech as taught by the Buddha is refraining from false statements, speaking negatively, or using your words to harm others.
Buddha taught about the importance of speaking only about that which is true and beneficial. Cruel speech that is offensive and harmful must always be avoided. Gossip and idle chatter should be avoided as well.
Giving sincere compliments and positive encouragement to others to uplift their state of mind to one of peacefulness, and happiness is Right Speech.
The path of Right Action:
Right action refers to doing that which is proper, and helpful. We must abstain from stealing that which does not belong to us, sexual misconduct, and harming or killing others.
Right Action is having respect for all living things. Right Action is doing no harm with your actions.
The path of Right Livelihood:
Right Livelihood refers to earning your living by doing that which is helpful, and makes a positive difference in your community, and the world around you. Right Livelihood is earning your living in an honest way, and not cheating, harming or taking advantage of others for your own gain.
Service to others is an important part of Right Livelihood, not only by assisting others through your work, but by using your earnings to make merit, and help others who are not as fortunate as you as well.
The path of Right Effort:
Right Effort means moving forward in your growth with unwavering devotion, and a positive mental attitude. It means taking action to achieve those positive changes. Just thinking about the changes that you would like to make are not good enough, you must take action to achieve them as well.
The Path of Right Mindfulness:
Right Mindfulness means being completely aware of the present moment, and focusing all of our attention on the task which we are currently doing. Right Mindfulness is being aware of the world around us, but focusing all of our attention on the present moment, and on what we are doing at the present time.
The Path of Right Concentration:
Right Concentration is also known as, right meditation. Right Concentration involves focusing your thoughts not only on that which is of a positive nature, but hyper focusing your thoughts completely on that which you are doing. It is human nature for other thoughts to enter into our minds as they always do, all day every day.
The goal of meditation is not to control your thoughts. It is to stop them from controlling you.
Right Concentration is blocking any thoughts from entering into your mind that are not congruent with that which you are presently focusing on.
Practice the Eightfold Path as outlined by the Buddha. Find your peace, and Embrace Nirvana.
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