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Eightfold Path

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  • Pages: 6
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  • Category: Buddhism

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The eightfold path is an essential part of Buddhism. It is one of Buddha’s principal teachings. The eightfold path is a guideline to ethical and mental development with its goal being to free individuals from their attachments and delusions. When the path is followed it eventually leads one to understanding the truth about all things. Only through practice can one attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana and for that reason much emphasis is put on the practical aspect of the eightfold path. The eight different principles of the path are not meant to be understood as a sequence of single steps but instead they are to be seen as one. The paths need to be seen as having a relationship with one another as they are highly dependent on each other. A Buddhist living in today’s contemporary society may have some issue when following the eightfold path but with determination and faith it is possible live righteously and according to the path.

The right view principle, which is both the beginning and the end of the path, represents wisdom and means that one should see and understand things as they really are (Noss, 2008). It also means that one needs to understand the law of karma. For a practicing Buddhist living in contemporary society the right view principle is the most important to attain. It will help guide them through day to day life, helping them to see what is real and to learn to take things for what they are and not what someone tries to sell them as being true. The next principle is right intention. Right intention is the commitment to both ethical and mental self-improvement.

There are three types of right intentions; the intention of renunciation, the intention of goodwill and the intention of harmlessness (Bodhi, 2010). Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. This principle may be hard for some Buddhists to follow completely. There is much temptation in the world today as well as hot tempered people. All three intentions are something that they could potentially be faced with on a daily basis. An example that comes to mind is a Buddhist living in New York. Life is so fast paced. It’s not unusual for someone to be upset and get in your face about something. As a Buddhist following the eightfold path the only answer would be to walk away without any anger, which may be hard for any person do to Buddhist or not.

Right speech is another principle that I feel would be hard for a Buddhist who is living in contemporary society to follow. Right speech essentially means one is not to lie, speak badly about another, use “bad” words or to participate in idle chatter (Noss, 2008). Although it may be easy to be honest, only speak kindly to and about others and not use foul language, it would be hard for anyone who works or has a social life to not converse other than when necessary. Conversation plays a major role in developing relationships with people. Even having a job can be difficult if one is following the right speech principle and only speaking as needed. The second ethical principle is right action. Right action can be explained as abstaining from harming life, taking what is not given, and sexual misconduct (Bodhi, 2010).

This principle is one that I feel everyone should follow whether practicing Buddhism or not, since it reflects morals that everyone should have, in my opinion. The principle right livelihood means that one should earn their living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained both legally and peacefully (Bammes, 2007). Buddha mentions four specific activities that harm other people and says that one should avoid dealing in weapons, dealing in living beings, working in meat production and butchery and selling poisons such as alcohol and drugs. This principle is probably the easiest for a Buddhist living in contemporary society to follow. There are so many jobs available in fields other than those that are forbidden that there should not be an issue making ends meet and following this particular principle.

The right effort is known for being the prerequisite for the other principles of the path. It simply stands for maintaining the perfect wholesome state that has already arisen. This step needs to be accomplished before a practicing Buddhist can begin to take on the other principles in the eightfold path (Allen, 2010). Right mindfulness is about having controlled and perfected cognition. It is the mental ability to see things as they are and with a clear conscious. Simply put, this principle asks it followers to see things clearly and for what they really are; to not be blind in the way that they view the world and their surroundings.

Both of these principles are something that most should strive to do in their lives. The final principle is right concentration. Right concentration refers to the development of natural consciousness (Bodhi, 2010). This means Buddhists should always have wholesome concentration (Bammes, 2007). Their thoughts and actions should never be impure ones. The final three principles of the eightfold path should be easy for any Buddhist to follow. Having pure thoughts and thinking in a clear conscious state is something that everyone should strive for. It is a great quality for any person to have.

The eightfold path is a valuable tool. It provides a structure for achieving greatness. What I mean by this is that when a person tries to live by all eight principles they will by default live their life in a pure and organic type of way. They will see things for what they true are and live in such a way that they do not add to the corrupt part of society. After learning more about the eightfold path and all of the principles I feel that I kind of already live this way. I take things for what they are and always am kind to every living thing. My job would be seem as ok and proper under the principles as I work for a CPA and make my money from a good source. It is not made from doing bad.

Even my diet would fit as I am a vegetarian. I do not eat meat of any kind nor would I ever having anything to do with the slaughter or mistreatment of animals. My relationships are probably the only part of my life that would need a little tweaking as I am a talker. I would have to cut back on my chit chat and it would most likely have an impact on my friendships and even with my co-workers. All in all though, the eightfold path is something that everyone should be aware of and the principles should all be taken into consideration. Even if a person doesn’t plan on following them all or if they aren’t religious the eightfold path is a great moral guideline for life.

Works Cited:

Noss, David. (2008). A History of the World’s Religions. Pearson Custom Publishing.

Allen, John. (2010). The Eight-Fold Path. Retrieved February 9, 2013, from http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/8foldpath.htm

Bodhi, Bhikkhu. (2010). The Noble Eightfold Path, The Way to the End of Suffering. Retrieved February 10, 2013, from http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/waytoend.html

Bammes, Dan. (2007). The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. Retrieved February 8, 2013, from http://www.sasana.org/sangha_noble.shtml

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