A Basic Buddhism Guide: The Eight-Fold Course

The Eight-Fold Path

The Eight-Fold Path is the 4th of the Four Noble Truths -the very first of the Buddha’s teachings. All the teachings circulation from

this foundation. The 4 Noble Realities are 1. The Noble Truth of the reality of Dukkha as part of conditioned existence.Dukkha is a multi-faceted word. Its literal meaning is “that which is hard to bear”. It can imply suffering, tension, pain, anguish, affliction or unsatisfactoriness. Each of the English words is either too strong or too weak in their meaning to be an universally effective translation. Dukkha can be gross or really subtle. From severe physical and psychological discomfort and torment to subtle inner conflicts and existential malaise.

2. The Noble Truth that Dukkha has a causal developing. This cause is defined as understanding and sticking or aversion. On one hand it is attempting to manage anything and everything by grabbing onto or attempting to pin them down, On the other hand it is control by pushing away or pushing down and fleing or flinching away from things. It is the procedure of identification through which we attempt to make internal and external things and experiences into “me and mine” or entirely ‘”other” than Me. This contradicts the three indications of existence – Anicca, Dukkha. Anatta – Impermanence. Stress or Suffering and No-Self. Due to the fact that all conditioned presence is impermanent it gives rise to Dukkha, and this implies that in conditioned existence there is no changeless and irreversible Self. There is nothing to comprehend onto and also in reality, absolutely nothing or no ‘one’ to do the grasping! We get onto or try to push away ever changing vibrant procedures. These efforts to control, limit us to little definitions of who we are.

3. The Noble Reality of completion of Dukkha, which is Nirvana or Nibbana. Beyond understanding and control and conditional presence is Nirvana. “The mind like fire unbound.” The realisation of Nirvana is supreme Bodhi or Awakening. It is getting up to the true nature of reality. It is waking up to our real nature. Buddha Nature. The Pali Canon of Theravada, the foundational Buddhist mentors, states little about Nirvana, using terms like the Unconditioned the Deathless, and the Unborn. Mahayana mentors speak more about the qualities of Nirvana and use terms like, Real Nature, Original Mind, Infinite light and Infinite life. Beyond space and time. Nirvana defies definition.

Nirvana actually implies “unbound’ as in “Mind like fire unbound”. This gorgeous image is of a flame burning by itself. Simply the flame, not something burning and releasing a flame. Image a flame burning on a wick or stick, it appears to hover around or just above the important things burning. The flame appears to be independent of the thing burning but it clings to the stick and is bound to it. This sense of the flame being unbound has actually typically been misunderstood to imply the flame is extinguished or blown out. This is completely opposite to the meaning of the sign. The flame “burns” and offers light however is no longer bound to any combustible product. The flame is not burnt out – the clinging and the clung to is extinguished. The flame of our real nature, which is awakening, burns separately. Eventually Nirvana is beyond conception and intellectual understanding. Full understanding just comes through direct experience of this “state’ which is beyond the constraints and definitions of space and time.

4. The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to Awakening. The course is a paradox. It is a conditioned thing that is said to assist you to the unconditioned. Awakening is not “made” by anything: it is not an item of anything including the Buddha’s mentors. Awakening, your true nature is currently always present. We are simply not awake to this reality. Clinging to limitation, and tries to control the ceaseless circulation of phenomena and process obscures our real nature.

The path is a procedureto assist you get rid of or move beyond the conditioned actions that obscure your real nature. In this sense the Path is ultimately about unlearning rather than finding out – another paradox. We discover so we can unlearn and discover. The Buddha called his mentor a Raft. To cross a rough river we may require to construct a raft. When constructed, we single-mindedly and with great energy make our method throughout. Once across we don’t need to cart the raft around with us. In other words do not hold on to anything including the teachings. However, make certain you utilize them before you let them go. It’s no usage understanding everything about the raft and not getting on. The teachings are tools not dogma. The teachings are Upaya, which implies experienced methods or practical method. It is fingers pointing at the moon – do not puzzle the finger for the moon.

The Path

1. * Samma-Ditthi– Total or Twenty-twenty, likewise equated as ideal view or understanding. Vision of the nature of truth and the course of change.

2. Samma-Sankappa– Refined Feeling or Aspiration, also equated as right idea or mindset. Liberating psychological intelligence in your life and acting from love and compassion. An educated heart and feeling mind that are free to practice releasing.

3. Samma-Vaca– Perfected or entire Speech. Also called ideal speech. Clear, sincere, uplifting and non-harmful interaction.

4. Samma-Kammanta– Integral Action. Likewise called best action. An ethical foundation for life based upon the concept of non-exploitation of oneself and others. The five precepts.

5. Samma-Ajiva– Appropriate Income. Likewise called best income. This is a livelihood based upon proper action the ethical principal of non-exploitation. The basis of a Suitable society.

6. Samma-Vayama — Complete or Full Effort, Energy or Vitality. Likewise called ideal effort or diligence. Knowingly directing our life energy to the transformative path of creative and healing action that fosters wholeness. Mindful advancement.

7. Samma-Sati — Complete or Extensive Awareness. Likewise called “ideal mindfulness”. Establishing awareness, “if you hold yourself dear see yourself well”. Levels of Awareness and mindfulness – of things, oneself, sensations, thought, people and Truth.

8. Samma-Samadhi– Complete, Essential or Holistic Samadhi.This is frequently equated as concentration, meditation, absorption or one-pointedness of mind. None of these translations is appropriate. Samadhi literally implies to be repaired, soaked up in or established at one point, therefore the very first level of significance is concentration when the mind is fixed on a single object. The second level of significance goes even more and represents the establishment, not just of the mind, however also of the whole remaining in numerous levels or modes of awareness and awareness. This is Samadhi in the sense of enlightenment or Buddhahood.

* The word Samma suggests ‘proper’, ‘entire’, ‘comprehensive’, ‘integral’, ‘complete’, and ‘best’ – related to English ‘summit’ – It does not necessarily indicate ‘ideal’, instead of ‘incorrect’. Nevertheless it is typically translated as “right” which can send out a less than accurate message. For example the reverse of ‘Right Awareness’ is not always ‘Wrong Awareness’. It might simply be incomplete. Use of the word ‘best’ may make for a cool or consistent list of qualities in translations. The downside is that it can give the impression that the Course is a narrow and moralistic method to the spiritual life. I utilize alternative analyses so you think about the depth of meanings. What do these things mean in your life today?

– John Allan

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