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The Eightfold Path And The Four Noble Truths

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In this paper, I will be explaining the importance of the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path in the Buddhist religion. I will also explain why these two systems of rules and instruction on meditation are important to each other. They are important to Buddhist beliefs and apply to freedom of re-birth and the way of Nirvana. These noble ways of life need to be perfected in order to attain nirvana. The Eightfold path and the Four Noble Truths where arranged by Siddhartha Gautama as the substructure of all of his teachings. Although, many Buddhist have many differences in the way they practice Buddhism, Siddhartha’s teachings are honored and respected by all. For many Buddhist, the main goal in their current life time is to be freed from the cycle of re-birth “The Samsaric cycle” and reach Enlightenment.

1. Rebirth can be explained as the renewal or renewed existence of one’s soul. Buddhist believes that people do not possess a soul or have a “permanent self.” It is believed, that who we are at any given time is made up of the five skandhas.

2. These five skandhas include; Physical factors, feelings, perceptions, volitions and awareness of consciousness. As long as these “forces are held together, a distinct separate being exists.”

3. These skandhas forces are held together with Karma, and are the law of action that keeps one from dissipation.

4. Karma is powered by desire and desire is what gives karma its power.

5. The Buddhist believe in order to break the Samsaric cycle, one must reach Enlightenment. The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path is the path to follow to help rid the body and mind of desire and reach the state of nirvana.

6. The first noble truth is “life is all suffering”, this can be defined that life and rebirth is ultimately unsatisfactory and is all suffering. In Buddhist terms this noble truth translates into Dukkah.

7. Dukkah is most commonly translated into suffering, and suffering is by each person individually, and does not really mean physical suffering. Suffering in this case can mean emotional or physical suffering and more to the fact that no human is ever satisfied in their life. Humans may enjoy good times and satisfying relationships but as a whole the good times never last, relationships will all come to an end, and the sense of unhappiness is felt throughout life. Buddha specifically said in his teachings “these things are unpleasant: meeting with what you dislike, being parted from what you like, and not getting what you want. If you give it some thought you may start to realize that there is more than enough dukkha to go around for everyone.

8. This noble truth is the basic human problem, and is the starting place to one spiritual journey. In order to begin ones spiritual journey in sync with the four noble truths one must know and admit that suffering you have in life is unavoidable. Once a person has made this realization they may proceed to the second noble truth. The second noble truth is “suffering is caused by craving”, This means that there is a reason for all of this suffering. Our ongoing desire, is a desire that cannot be relived, these desires include; the attachment to material possessions, people, and relationships. We as humans tend to have an idea that” the grass is always greener on the other side” meaning that what we desire we cannot always have. This uncontrolled desire causes most humans to be unhappy with their current situation whiles on the search for the next best thing.

9. This noble truth inspires followers to look within themselves and recognize the root of their craving and desire. When people become entangled in the capacious realm of craving, life becomes an iniquitous cycle and rebirth is imminent. For a person a person to conquer the Samsaric cycle they must learn to control cravings and desires and become non-attached to people and things, in doing that you move on in the four noble truths.

10. The third noble truth is the ‘the extinction of craving’. This noble truth can be explained as, there is such a thing as freedom from this unsatisfactory state “dukkha” when you completely abolish thirst and want for what cannot be.

11. To eradicate dukkha completely one has to eliminate the main root of dukkha, which is “want”. As one trains themselves to defeat their craving and thirst, they will experience non-attachment and end all suffering and rebirth. Once all craving has ceased to exist nirvana can then begin.

12. As we learned in class, and from what is present in my notes, nirvana “supreme happiness” comes when all passion, hatred and delusions die out and one’s soul is released and there is no need for further purification. Once nirvana has been achieved, you shall move on to the next noble truth. The fourth noble truth is about ‘Means’, how Buddhist should live life. This fourth truth is the eightfold path. “Buddha discovered trough personal experience the Middle Path which gives vision and knowledge, which leads to calmness, insight, enlightenment, Nirvana”. This path is the outline for followers and guides them on a path to end all of suffering. This below taken from class notes lists the eight parts of this path;

1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Action
6. Right Livelihood
7. Right Effort
8. Right Concentration

13. The eightfold path is known as the middle path since it avoids two extremes. One of the two avoided extremes is the quest for happiness by following pleasures of ones senses. The second avoided extreme is the search for happiness by self-punishment in various forms of austerity, which is crude and has not benefit. The points all the eightfold path are to be simultaneously practiced unlike the step by step process of the for noble truths. Practicing even just one part of the middle path will help the follower to practice other parts of the middle path, and teach them how to use them simultaneously with each other. A person is to then practice these qualities to the best of their ability and knowledge.

14. The first part of the middle way is having the right understanding. This acts in conjunction with the four noble truths, one cannot practice ‘right understanding’ if one does not have a clear understanding of the four noble truths and what they stand for. The four noble truths also guide believers in the right direction of the eightfold path. As quoted earlier in the essay, in order to procure freedom of rebirth and untimely gain nirvana, the four noble truths must be exercised and perfected. If a believer wants to preserve their perspicuous wisdom they gain from the four noble truths it needs to be cultivated correctly. This is made possible by maintaining the right understanding.

15. The second ideal of the eightfold path is the “right thought”.

16. This step requires the follower to give up their own selfish desires and dumping there wants for unnecessary things. For the follower to accomplish this they must replace their thoughts with right thoughts. The follower must make a conscious decision that this is the best choice for them and that they will complete and maintain this step in order to gain full benefits from it. All thoughts of desire and selfishness must be replaced with thoughts of peace and have no attachment to the craving.

17. The third part of the eightfold path is having “right speech”, The speech of one can greatly affect the life of another and therefore it is necessary that Buddhist speak uplifting and graciously. Buddhist must also strive to understand why they say the things that they do and what is the meaning of their thoughts. If the meaning of a thought or word is not positive it is up to them to change and retrain themselves to speak and think in accordance with the four noble truths. Including; not speaking falsely ”lying”, not gossiping, abstaining from harsh words, avoiding vulgar or prejudicial talk, and not falling into the habit of useless talk.

18. The fourth part of the eightfold path is “right action”, followers of Buddhism will come to realizes that they monitor their own actions, many of which are done unconsciously. Buddha said “as one follows the four noble truths and monitors their actions in the proper way and action they will diminish their suffering”. Buddhist are inspired to help and protect others by their actions. This would include but is not limited to; “not killing other living beings, stealing, avoiding illicit sexual behavior, intoxicants and gambling”. It is very important for Buddhist to concentrate on helping others and the wellbeing of others, rather than concentrate on the actions of their ego.

19. On to the fifth part of the eightfold path which is “right livelihood”, most Buddhist embrace a stance in life of helping others. “Buddha believed that those who have work that occupies many hours of the day, should not hope to find inner peace since ones occupation is contradictory to the Buddhist values.”

20. Buddha asks everyone to examine their occupation to make sure that it is congenial with an enlightened life”. This all means that one’s job cannot be one that involves; killing, those engaged in service for hire, anything that involves trickery or deception, and one that involves astrology. To follow the four noble truths every aspect of one life must be based on the ethical values of Buddhism even when choosing an occupation.

21. The sixth part of the eightfold path is having the “right amount of effort”, this part/step involves one to always be aware of what they are doing. This step is in reference to” the energetic will to prevent evil and harmful states that have already appeared within a man, and also to create, and cause the good and wholesome states of one’s mind that have not ever appeared, also to create and bring fourth the perfection on the good and wholesome states of mind present in a man”. Buddhist are warned to run from any action that can bring bad karma upon one’s self. Buddha said that it can and will be exhausting for some Buddhist converts to become completely aware of their action and ones words, he encourages them not debilitate themselves and to know their own readiness.

22. The seventh part of the eightfold path is having “right mindfulness’, have correct thinking is as important to life as is breathing. Change will not occur unless one acquires complete control minds using awareness”.

23. A follower must study themselves and others who are mindful of actions and responses. This ambition begins by focusing on one’s breathing to gain a conscious realization of the body and its impermanence. This also includes one’s flow of feelings, mental activities, and one’s objects of their mind. Buddhist are taught to keep their mind in the present moment, and to focus on what is happening in the present moment its self, and to neither become attached to it or imagine what effect it will bring to onto one’s life.

24. The eighth and final part of the eightfold path is having “right concentration”

25. Once someone has perfected the past step of right mindfulness one will be able to proceed into right concentration. These two step are comitial, “with this stage a calmness and peace come as one enters the state of Samadhi ‘mental concentration’ it is not an absorption of and outside thing, it is a ‘one pointedness’ a state of being completely focused or concentrated, and being totally aware of the present moment, this will happen when all attachments have be broken. The ability of a believer to control their thought process and concentration at this level allows them to obtain great knowledge on the true meaning and nature of things.

26.Any one person that follows Buddhist traditions and religion can perfect the eightfold path. The steps that make up the eightfold path harmonize to the three “rule” type instructions of the Theravada tradition: Mortality,
concentration and wisdom. Morality includes having correct speech, action and livelihood. Concentration circumscribes the right effort, mindfulness, and meditation. Wisdom contains the right belief and the right aspirations. Enlightenment and nirvana is possible for any person whose goal is reach this level of concentration and meditation. The four noble truths are not empowered by the cast system, gender or a person’s age. As I have gone through both the four noble truths and the eightfold path, you can see that they both have a huge and important place in Buddhist life and their religion.

The four noble truths and the eightfold path are in a way the ethics and ideals of the religion. They both provide one with a guideline for life, meditation, thoughts and conduct, and how others shall be treated. The Four Noble Truths provide” in a way” the map of what is right action and right thought so that any follower can adjust their actions and mind according to the noble truths. The Buddhist religion would not be able to uphold it traditions and obtain the ultimate goal of nirvana without following these ideal and principles. They embody and hold together the Buddhist religion and provide a way to the end and freedom. That is why I believe The Noble Truths and the Eightfold is not only and important symbol in the Buddhist religion, But are important principles to reach Nirvana.

Worked Cited
King, Matthew . “Buddhism .” Intro World Religion. Ed. Christian Rodriguez. Sugar Grove: Waubonsee Community College, Print.

O’brian, Barbra . “Skandaha.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec 2012. .

Unknown, . “The Eightfold Path.” 2008. N.p., Online Posting to The Big View. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. .

Daniels, Victor. “Buddha’s Original Teachings.” 06 2005. N.p., Online Posting to Somma.edu. Web. 3 Dec. 2012. . Malcom, David Eckel. The Illustrated Guied To World Religion. 1st. 198 Maison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10016: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2003. Print.

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