In the last few articles we have tried to discuss all the aspects of Buddhism. In this article now we will discuss one of the most essential aspects of the religion. It is called the Eight Fold paths.
Unless you understand this concept your understanding of the Buddhism will be incomplete. We will now explain these in details. The Eight Fold paths teach how we must live life so that we can life a good live and attain moksha at the end of it. This will enable us to live a better and a more spiritual life.
These were laid by the founder of Buddhism Gautama Buddha himself. These were the practical aspects of the religion so that the followers can learn to follow the basics of the religion better. The first two of the Eight Fold paths is for wisdom. The third, fourth and fifth are for ethical conduct and the last three are for mental development.
We will now discuss each one of these that we have mentioned above in more details.
Right view – This is the first of the Eight Fold paths. It means that we should see the things the way they are. It means that we must accept that the world is imperfect and so are its objects. This helps us to understand the karma even better. It is wisdom and not intelligence that is propagated here. The connection here with the four noble truths is that the things are imperfect. If we can understand the imperfect nature of the things that we see we will be able to get free from the sense of attachment.
Right intention- It is the second in the list. This too comes under the category of wisdom. It is the mental energy that generally controls all our actions. This is the commitment that we feel towards the ethical needs for self improvement. Gautama Buddha clarified that there are three types of intentions and they are 1. Intention to renunciation, in this one is required to let go of all desires 2. Intention to good will in which one must try to stay away from anger and jealousy 3. Intention of harmlessness under this one must try to be helpful to others and not cause any harm to the other beings.
Right speech – this is the first of the ethical conducts in the eight fold path. It teaches people to be morally disciplined. The possibility to get mental peace is possible only when a person is ethical. Speech is vital. It can make and break friends. Speech is very essential in inter personal growth. Gautama Buddha said that 1. One should never lie under any circumstances 2. One should never speak to bring disgrace on others 3. One should not use harsh words that can hurt others 4. Idle chatter who speaks just out of no deep knowledge is disgraceful.
Right action – If the person does good action then they will live a better and a spiritual life. This is why it appeared as the second in the ethical conduct and in the eight folds paths set by the Gautama Buddha. If a person is involved in wrong action his mind can never think positive and act well. 1. One must not hurt any living being by his action even suicide is highly condemned 2. A person must abstain taking things that do not belong to him like stealing, fraud, etc 3. A person should abstain from sexual misconduct. If a person can follow these points then he or she will never land up hurting anyone by their action. As a result they will live a noble life. Their mind will be pure and spiritual.
Right livelihood – This basically means that a person should attain his living in a right way. The means should be peaceful and away from cheating. It should not cause any harm to any third party. 1. Do not deal with weapon 2. Do not deal with animal slaughter or prostitution. Any act that requires misuse of living beings must be avoided. 3. Do not work in meat production and in butchery. 4. Do not sell poison and drugs. Any other work that directly or indirectly harms the society and the fellow beings should be avoided at all cost.
Right effort – the next in the list of the eight fold path of Buddhism is the right effort. If your effort is not right you will never be able to get the results that you are looking for. Effort means channelizing your energies in the right direction. When your effort is right you will be able to manage your own life better. 1. Prevent arising or unarisen states 2. Abandon the unwholesome states 3. Arouse wholesome states that have not risen yet 4. Maintain the wholesome states that you have already. These will ensure that you have your efforts right and focussed in the attainment of the goals that you are looking for.
Right mindfulness is the next in the eight fold paths. It is the ability of the mind to see the things the way they actually are. It is to see things with clear consciousness. Do we see things the way they are? Well not always we conceptualise. We assume a lot of things about all that we see as a result we are misguided. To attain the right mindfulness one needs to practice the following 1. Contemplation of the body 2. Contemplation of the feeling 3. Contemplation of the state of mind 4. Contemplation of the phenomena. This is the first point in mental development and can really help us to live a better and a more purified life.
Right concentration is the last in the list of the eight fold paths mentioned in Buddhism. It states that to develop the mind completely we must know to concentrate. The way we concentrate should be focussed and disciplined. If we cannot concentrate on the right aspects we will not be able to gain spiritually. Buddhism states that if you want to learn the right way to concentrate you will have to meditate on regular basis. Only meditation can teach you how to concentrate on the right objects. The meditation is a step by step process that will slowly increase the concentration level. Buddhism also states that one must concentrate within and try to use the skills of concentration in the regular day to day activities.
We hope that this article on Eight Fold paths have helped you to understand the concept of Buddhism and all the other aspects of the religion more. The four noble truths give a vague idea of what the Buddhist followers are expected to do.
However, the Eight Fold paths clearly explains that how exactly the four noble truths can be followed in a day today life. The Eight Fold paths are more practical and clear. These were the golden teachings of Lord Buddha. We hope that you can try to follow some of these in order to live a better life.