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Buddha and Practical Spiritual Life

The purpose of life is to attain enlightenment, but people would much rather like to discuss or argue about abstract metaphysics which leaves their egos intact and even may increase their size! Buddha refused to engage in any teaching or discussion on subjects that did not relate to practical spiritual life.

Buddha’s Eightfold Path: A Yogi’s Practical Analysis

Buddha and Buddha's Eightfold Path

An excerpt from The Dhammapada for Awakening, available for free online reading here, or as a paperback and ebook here.

“Of paths the Eightfold one is best, and of truths the Fourfold. Dispassion is the best of mental states, and of human beings the best is the seer” (Dhammapada 273).

Thanissaro Bhikkhu: “Of paths, the eightfold is best. Of truths, the four sayings. Of qualities, dispassion. Of two-footed beings, the one with the eyes to see.”

The Eightfold Path of Buddha

The Eightfold Path was mentioned in verse one hundred ninety-one, but for some reason it did not occur to me to include it in the commentary. Now it should be, because many people may not have read an exposition of it or memorized it. (As a Buddhist nun once said: “If you like lists, then Buddhism is the religion for you.”) It is very important, because in the next verse Buddha declares that this is the only path to the purification that enables us to attain Nirvana.

The Eightfold Path consists of:

  1. Right View;
  2. Right Intention;
  3. Right Speech;
  4. Right Action;
  5. Right Livelihood;
  6. Right Effort;
  7. Right Mindfulness;
  8. Right Concentration.

All of these are interrelated to some extent.

1. Right View

View–drishti–literally means the faculty of sight, but also includes a person’s view, opinion, or perception of something, and is right view of the right thing, namely the way to live so as to lead to Nirvana. The trivia which occupy the minds of nearly every human being ultimately mean nothing, and Buddha is not concerned with that. Right view is the right evaluation of things as well as the right understanding of them.

Right view is seeing things as they really are, and knowing which matter and which do not. Naturally this includes a right response to right view, including the right way to live. It is obviously a function of the buddhi, the intelligence, and not the sensory mind or the emotions. The mind is like a mirror, and if there is any distortion of the mirror then all perceptions will be distorted. So Right View presupposes right condition of the mind. Each of the eight parts of the path is psychological, even if some of them include external modes of behavior.

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Four Ways to Be Happy: Practical Wisdom from Buddha

How can you be happy?

Though originally published on our Blog almost 10 years ago, spiritual articles never lose their relevance, so we are re-pubishing this today.

Dhammapada for Awakening at Amazon.comFrom the first time I ever heard it until today, “everybody does it” seems to me one of the most moronic and irrelevant–not to say almost always untrue–things anyone can say, especially if it is meant to justify some thought or action. So when I came across a similar section to this in one of the Pali sutras, I commented to other members of our ashram that it might be good to recite it every day to remind us that running with the herd is not an option for those seeking higher consciousness.

Without hatred

Happy indeed we live who are free from hatred among those who still hate. In the midst of hate-filled men, we live free from hatred” (Dhammapada 197). Thanissaro Bhikkhu: “How very happily we live, free from hostility among those who are hostile. Among hostile people, free from hostility we dwell.”

The world seems to run on hate and anger–all we need do is look at history and see that humanity is a bundle of conflicts. That is the way things are, and we should accept it but not approve of it. Rather than waiting for a “better day” when hatred will be abolished–something that absolutely will never happen–we should determine to live ourselves without hatred or hostility, even when encountering those who do hate, and who may hate us for not hating.

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