Meanderings On & Off The Noble Eightfold Path

Please note- I am not a Buddhist Scholar, and the following essay is a journey through my experience. If you are looking for an in-depth treatise on Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths, and the Eightfold Path, please consult tricycle.org, lionsroar.com, or the like.

Buddhism is straightforward in explaining how to walk the middle pathโ€”eight beautifully concise guides for a well-lived life. The problem lies in practicing those noble lessons. 

A high school history class was my first introduction to Buddhism and its unique views. I was intrigued by the concept that all suffering comes from craving, but the chapter was short, and we were on to other things, and I forgot about the four noble truths. That is until about four years later when I developed an interest in meditation.

Meditation led to yoga and a desire to learn more about the history of these practices, eventually leading me to Buddhism’s middle path. Already familiar with the four Noble truths, I delved into learning about the eightfold path. It reads like a code of conduct if taken superficially, but the subtleties of the interconnectedness of being are laid out before our eyes. 

The path implies the concept that nothing exists on its own. “Everything is “inter-is.” Everything is part of a dynamic cycle, and we are a part of that cycle. We suffer because we struggle against the natural process and flow of life, and we can avoid suffering by following the eightfold path. 

So first, the four noble truths: 

The noble truth of suffering 

          suffering exists 

The noble truth of the beginning of suffering

          suffering arises from craving

 The noble truth of the ending of suffering

          suffering can be ceased

 The noble truth of the path to the end of suffering

          end craving, end suffering

The Noble Eightfold Path leads us toward the cessation of suffering, and I have meandered on and off the way for years. Following my trail, one would notice dead ends, the talus of anger, ancient glacial deposits deep within my heart, the pinnacle of compassion, and the valley of despair. There are two dominant patterns to the wanderings off the path- stress, and illness. I have not always coped with grace in the past. I can do better. I hold the guidebook, and the trail is marked.

Let us glance at our desired approach to the wilds of life; The Noble Eightfold Path.

Right Speech – if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing. Be mindful of the impact words, tone and inflection can have.

Right Effort – applied will to prevent insensitive or impure thoughts, deeds, and actions, and the will to create an environment where compassion and integrity naturally arise.

Right Mindfulness – be attentive to the body, mind, emotions, thoughts, and the world around you.

Right Action – be attentive to one’s behavior, actions, and treatment of others and all sentient beings. Be kind and helpful.

Right Thought – wisdom arises naturally when one’s thoughts are selfless and full of unconditional love.

Right Concentration – bliss may be attained and sustained when the mind is clear and one-pointed.

Right Livelihood – how one makes a living shall not harm others or our environment.

Right Understanding – everything thing is as it should be.

So now prepared to move toward a new year with a compass to guide my way, will I meader and lose the trail? Absolutely! I have no doubt I will have moments of intense anger, panic, or worry, which mindlessly allows me to react from a place of fear instead of acting from a place of love. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. I am learning, day by day, moment by moment.  

Through meditation, yoga, or reiki, I can slowly dissolve my attachment to outcomes and expectations, allowing for a more natural life, and exploring the wildness inherent within. 

May your new year be filled with compassion and mindful intent, allowing joy and contentment to blossom with every step.

Namaste.

Non-dual

In stillness, the truth slowly revels itself. We begin to understand the preciseness of the Universe. Out of chaos arises beautiful order; a magical dance of dark/light, pleasure/pain, bliss/suffering, life and death; anew in each eternal moment.
๐˜•๐˜ข๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ฆ

Magic

There is โ˜…๐™ˆ ๐˜ผ ๐™‚ ๐™„ ๐˜พ โ˜… in the ordinary. Being present in the moment- ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฐ๐˜ธ -is where spontaneous joy arises.
โ˜†
Meditation can help us become comfortable with stillness. It gives us practice being in the moment.
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Over time we begin to notice that every part of our day can become our practice. We can mindfully make our beds, prepare our food, read to our children.
โ˜†
We begin to live in the now, no longer dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.
โ˜†
We live in the โ˜…๐™ˆ ๐˜ผ ๐™‚ ๐™„ ๐˜พ โ˜… of now.
โ˜พ
โ˜พ
โ˜พ
Now to be completely honest while in the middle of writing this, I had to stop to clean up dog puke. It doesnโ€™t get much more ordinary than that!๐Ÿคฃ But if we learn to laugh in these moments -when we can see the absurdity of life in all its splendor AND in all itโ€™s hardships- we realize it is all ๐—ฃ๐—Ÿ๐—”๐—ฌ.

Thatโ€™s the whole point of mindfulness- discovering the magic in every moment of your life- whether cleaning up dog puke or falling in love, thereโ€™s always magic to be found.

Where do you experience ๐™ˆ๐˜ผ๐™‚๐™„๐˜พ in your daily life?