Lesson 5 - Buddha's Eightfold Way

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http://home.earthlink.net/~srama/


Siddharta (surname Gautama) became known as Buddha (the awakened), Tathagata (the traceless one) and Sakyamuni (sage of the Sakya clan). Gautama Buddha remained at the spot of his awakening for the next forty-nine days realizing the bliss of nirvana and meditating upon whether to teach or to remain silent. His initial silence indicates that Buddha was aware that (1) theres nothing to teach, (2) theres no teacher, and (3) theres no one to teach. Compassionately, he realized that whether he spoke or not he would still be communicating the truth of his awakening. Thus to spur his followers to find their own truth, Sakyamuni decided to actively promulgate the dharma..

Kenneth Kramer: World Scriptures? p 77 - 78


 

The Middle Way

After his awakening under the Bodhi Tree in Bod-Gaya, Buddha traveled to what is now called Sarnath, north of Benares, where he gave his first sermon about
The Middle Way

The Middle Way is characterized by The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path which can be outlined as follows:

  1. The truth of suffering, Dukkha

  2. The truth of the origin of suffering, Tanha

  3. The truth of cessation of suffering

  4. The truth of the path:

Quoted from The Dalai Lama: A Simple Path?:



The Noble Eightfold Path:

Right Understanding,
Right Resolve,
Right Speech,
Right Acts,
Right Livelihood,
Right Effort,
Right Mindfulness,
Right Concentration?

Kenneth Kramer: World Scriptures? p 77 “ 78


The truth of suffering Dukkha
The first truth

Dukkha means that all life is filled with pain and suffering, whether it be physical or psychological. [¦] We are born through a painful process, we suffer throughout our lives, and we often die painfully. The comparative study of religion reminds us that suffering for Buddhists, like ignorance for the Hindu, and sin for the Jew, Christian and Muslim, is the fundamental condition from which humans seek liberation.

The Dalai Lama describes the Buddhist focus on suffering thus:

?Unless you know you are suffering, your desire to be free from suffering will not arise in the first place?. The reason why Buddha laid so much emphasis on developing insight into the nature of suffering is because there is an alternative “ there is a way out, it is actually possible to free oneself from it.?

The Dalai Lama: A Simple Path? p. 31 -33


 

The truth of the origin of suffering, Tanha
The second truth

Once Buddha addressed his monks with the following unforgettable image:
Everything, brethren, is on fire. How, brethren is everything on fire? The eye, brethren, is on fire, visible objects are on fire, the faculty of the eye is on fire, the sense of the eye is on fire, and also the sensation, whether pleasant or unpleasant or both, which arises from the sense of sight, is on fire. With what is it on fire? With the fire of passion, of hate, of illusion is it on fire, with birth, old age, death, grief, lamentation, suffering sorrow, and despair.?

Kenneth Kramer: World Scriptures? p 77 “ 78


In the Second Noble Truth, the Buddha elucidates the four causes of this third suffering.
Here the Buddha talks about tanha-thirst. Thirst is a good thing because it leads us to seek nourishment. It even may be what brings us to practice. [¦]. Our attachment to sense pleasure is the first cause of suffering. However, this is not a teaching about avoiding sense pleasure. We simply do not want to be controlled by our desires. For example, just try putting down your fork between each bite of something delicious. [¦]
Our attachment to views and opinions is the second cause of suffering. Again, there is nothing wrong with having views and opinions. We all do. This becomes suffering for ourselves and others when we become attached. [¦]
Our attachment to traditions, religious practices and ethical behavior is the third cause of suffering. [¦].
The fourth cause of suffering is the one that is the most intractable. It is our attachment to self”who we think we are, how we want others to be, and how we want life to treat us. Some people expect life to make them happy; others expect life to make them miserable. Our emotions, and how we view the world and experience life, flow from this attachment. [¦]?
Edited from an article by Tamara Engel http://www.nyimc.org/articles/truths.htm



The truth of cessation of suffering

The Third Noble Truth

The Third Noble Truth is the cessation of suffering”the cure mentioned in the Buddhas medical model. What we have available to us is the present moment. There are two aspects of experience in the present moment:

  1. What is happening”things just as they are

  2. How we relate to what is happening


We can change how we relate to the present moment. We can cultivate the skill to rest in mindfulness, rather than in grasping and aversion. In so doing, we free ourselves from suffering.
In the Fourth Noble Truth, the Buddha’s medical model gives us the prescription. The prescription is the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Noble Eightfold Path consists of Right Understanding and Right Thought, which allow us to cultivate panna—wisdom. Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood allow us to cultivate sila—ethical behavior. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration allow us to cultivate samadhi—mental discipline. [¦]?.

 

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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Understanding?

It is understanding the Four Truths. To understand suffering; to understand the origin of suffering; to understand the extinction of suffering; to understand the path that leads to the extinction of suffering: This is called Right Understanding Or, when the noble disciple understands what is karmically wholesome, and the root of wholesome karma; what is karmically unwholesome, and the root of unwholesome karma, then he has Right Understanding. […] What, now, is "karmically unwholesome?" In Bodily Action it is destruction of living beings; stealing; and unlawful sexual intercourse. In Verbal Action it is lying; tale-bearing; harsh language; and frivolous talk. In Mental Action it is covetousness; ill-will; and wrong views. And what is the root of unwholesome karma? Greed is a root of unwholesome karma; Anger is a root of unwholesome karma; Delusion is a root of unwholesome karma. [¦] What, now, is "karmically wholesome?" In Bodily Action it is to abstain from killing; to abstain from stealing; and to abstain from unlawful sexual intercourse. In Verbal Action it is to abstain from lying; to abstain from tale-bearing; to abstain from harsh language; and to abstain from frivolous talk. In Mental Action it is absence of covetousness; absence of ill-will; and right understanding. And what is the root of wholesome karma? Absence of greed (unselfishness) is a root of wholesome karma; absence of anger (benevolence) is a root of wholesome karma; absence of delusion (wisdom) is a root of wholesome karma. [¦]?
The Buddha School Net on

http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/underst.htm


 


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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Mindedness?

It is thoughts free from lust; thoughts free from ill-will; thoughts free from cruelty. This is called right mindedness.
Now, Right Mindedness, let me tell you, is of two kinds:
1. Thoughts free from lust, from ill-will, and from cruelty:-this is called the "Mundane Right Mindedness," which yields worldly fruits and brings good results.
2. But, whatsoever there is of thinking, considering, reasoning, thought, rationalisation, application-the mind being holy, being turned away from the world, and conjoined with the path, the holy path being pursued-: these "Verbal Operations" of the mind are called the "Ultramundane Right Mindedness? which is not of the world, but is ultra mundane, and conjoined with the paths.

Now, in understanding wrong-mindedness as wrong, and right-mindedness as right, one practices Right Understanding
[1st step]; and in making efforts to overcome evil-mindedness, and to arouse right-mindedness, one practices Right Effort
[6th step]; and in overcoming evil-mindedness with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in possession of right-mindedness, one practices Right Attentiveness [7th step]. Hence, there are three things that accompany and follow upon right-mindedness, namely: right understanding, right effort, and right attentiveness.

The Buddha School Net on
http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtmnd.htm

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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Speech?

It is abstaining from lying; abstaining from tale-bearing; abstaining from harsh language; abstaining from vain talk. There, someone avoids lying, and abstains from it. He speaks the truth, is devoted to the truth, reliable, worthy of confidence, is not a deceiver of men. [¦] He never knowingly speaks a lie, neither for the sake of his own advantage, nor for the sake of another person’s advantage, nor for the sake of any advantage whatsoever. He avoids tale-bearing, and abstains from it. What he has heard here, he does not repeat there, so as to cause dissension there; and what he heard there, he does not repeat here, so as to cause dissension here. Thus he unites those that are divided; and those that are united, he encourages. [¦]. He avoids harsh language, and abstains from it. He speaks such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear, loving, going to the heart, courteous and dear, and agreeable to many.
In Majjhima-Nikaya, No. 21, the Buddha says: "Even, O monks, should robbers and murderers saw through your limbs and joints, whoso gave way to anger thereat, would not be following my advice. For thus ought you to train yourselves?.
[¦] Now, in understanding wrong speech as wrong, and right speech as right, one practices Right Understanding [1st step); and in making efforts to overcome evil speech and to arouse right speech, one practices Right Effort [6th step]; and in overcoming wrong speech with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in possession of right speech, one practices Right Attentiveness [7th step]. Hence, there are three things that accompany and follow upon right attentiveness.?

The Buddha School Net on

http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtspch.htm


 

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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Action?

It is abstaining from killing; abstaining from stealing; abstaining from unlawful sexual intercourse. There, someone avoids the killing of living beings, and abstains from it. Without stick or sword, conscientious, full of sympathy, he is anxious for the welfare of all living beings. He avoids stealing, and abstains from it; what another person possesses of goods and chattels in the village or in the wood, that he does not take away with thievish intent. He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, and abstains from it. He has no intercourse with such persons as are still under the protection of father, mother, brother, sister or relatives, nor with married women, nor female convicts, nor, lastly, with betrothed girls. This is called Right Action. [¦]
Now in understanding wrong action as wrong, and right action as right, one practices Right Understanding [1st step]; and in making efforts to overcome wrong action, and to arouse right action, one practices Right Effort [6th step]; and in overcoming wrong action with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in possession of right action, one practices Right Attentiveness [7th step]. Hence, there are three things that accompany and follow upon right action, namely: right understanding, right effort, and right attentiveness.?

The Buddha School Net on
http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtactn.htm


 

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The Noble Eightfold Path:
WHAT, now, is Right Living?

When the noble disciple, avoiding a wrong way of living, gets his livelihood by a right way of living, this is called Right Living. [¦]
When the noble disciple, avoiding wrong living, gets his livelihood by a right way of living-this is called the "Mundane Right Living," which yields worldly fruits and brings good results. [¦].
Now, in understanding wrong living as wrong, and right living as right, one practices Right Understanding [1st step]; and in making efforts to overcome wrong living, to arouse right living, one practices Right Effort [6th step]; and in overcoming wrong living with attentive mind, and dwelling with attentive mind in possession of right living, one practices Right Attentiveness [7th step]. Hence, there are three things that accompany and follow upon right living, namely: right understanding, right effort, and right attentiveness.?
The Buddha School Net on

http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtlvng.htm


 


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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Effort?

There are Four Great Efforts: the effort to avoid, the effort to overcome, the effort to develop, and the effort to maintain.
What, now, is the effort to avoid? There, the disciple incites his mind to avoid the arising of evil, demeritorious things that have not yet arisen; and he strives, puts forth his energy, strains his mind and struggles. Thus, when he perceives a form with the eye, a sound with the ear, an odor with the nose, a taste with the tongue, a contact with the body, or an object with the mind, he neither adheres to the whole, nor to its parts. And he strives to ward off that through which evil and demeritorious things, greed and sorrow, would arise, if he remained with unguarded senses; and he watches over his senses, restrains his senses. [¦]
This is called the effort to avoid.

What, now, is the effort to Overcome? There, the disciple incites his mind to overcome the evil, demeritorious things that have already arisen; and he strives, puts forth his energy, strains his mind and struggles. He does not retain any thought of sensual lust, ill-will, or grief, or any other evil and demeritorious states that may have arisen; he abandons them, dispels them, destroys them, causes them to disappear."

The Buddha School Net on http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rteffrt.htm


 


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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Effort?

There are Four Great Efforts: the effort to avoid, the effort to overcome, the effort to develop, and the effort to maintain
[¦]. What, now, is the effort to Develop? There the disciple incites his will to arouse meritorious conditions that have not yet arisen; and he strives, puts forth his energy, strains his mind and struggles. Thus he develops the "Elements of Enlightenment," bent on solitude, on detachment, on extinction, and ending in deliverance, namely: Attentiveness, Investigation of the Law, Energy, Rapture, Tranquility, Concentration, and Equanimity. This is called the effort to develop.
What, now, is the effort to Maintain? There, the disciple incites his will to maintain the meritorious conditions that have already arisen, and not to let them disappear, but to bring them to growth, to maturity and to the full perfection of development; and he strives, puts forth his energy, strains his mind and struggles. Thus, for example, he keeps firmly in his mind a favorable object of concentration that has arisen[¦]. This is called the effort to maintain. Truly, the disciple who is possessed of faith and has penetrated the Teaching of the Master, he is filled with the thought: "May rather skin, sinews and bones wither away, may the flesh and blood of my body dry up: I shall not give up my efforts so long as I have not attained whatever is attainable by manly perseverance, energy and endeavor!" This is called right effort. - The effort of Avoiding, Overcoming, Of Developing and Maintaining: These four great efforts have been shown by him, the scion of the sun. And he who firmly clings to them, May put an end to all the pain.?

The Buddha School Net on http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rteffrt.htm


 

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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Attentiveness?

The only way that leads to the attainment of purity, to the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, to the end of pain and grief, to the entering upon the right path and the realization of Nirvana, is the "Four Fundamentals of Attentiveness." And which are these four? In them, the disciple dwells in contemplation of the Body, in contemplation of Feeling, in contemplation of the Mind, in contemplation of the Mind-objects, ardent, clearly conscious and attentive, after putting away worldly greed and grief. But, how does the disciple dwell in contemplation of the body? [¦] With attentive mind he breathes in, with attentive mind he breathes out. [¦]." "Clearly perceiving the entire [breath]-body, I will breathe in": thus he trains himself; "clearly perceiving the entire [breath]-body, I will breathe out": thus he trains himself. "Calming this bodily function, I will breathe in": thus he trains himself; "calming this bodily function, I will breathe out": thus he trains himself. Thus he dwells in contemplation of the body, [¦] and further, whilst going, standing, sitting, or lying down, the disciple understands the expressions: "I go"; "I stand"; "I sit"; "I lie down"; he understands any position of the body.: [¦]

The Buddha School Net on
http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtattn.htm


 


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The Noble Eightfold Path:

WHAT, now, is Right Concentration?

Fixing the mind to a single object ("One-pointed ness of mind"): this is concentration. The four Fundamentals of Attentiveness [.] these are the objects of concentration. The four Great Efforts [..]: these are the requisites for concentration. The practicing, developing and cultivating of these things: this is the "Development" of concentration. [¦] Develop your concentration: for he who has concentration understands things according to their reality. And what are these things? The arising and passing away of corporeality, of feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness. Thus, these five Groups of Existence must be wisely penetrated; Delusion and Craving must be wisely abandoned; Tranquility and Insight must be wisely developed. This is the Middle Path which the Perfect One has discovered, which makes one both to see and to know, and which leads to peace, to discernment, to enlightenment, to Nirvana. And following upon this path, you will put an end to suffering.

The Buddha School Net on

http://www.tbsn.org/english/library/reference/eight/rtconc.htm