Aug 13, 2021
Buddhism, one could say, is the gradual path to happiness. The essence of all the teachings of Buddha can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Noble Truths reveal Buddha’s realization that life is pervaded by suffering, the cause of suffering are the toxins in the mind like attachment, aversion and ignorance, and that there is a solution to all suffering. The Eightfold Path is contained within the Fourth Noble Truth and is the guide on how exactly to gradually end our sufferings and reveal an authentic, stable happiness from within.
Buddha reveals in the Four Noble Truths that, specifically, life is inseparably mixed with something he calls dukkha. The Pali word dukkha is often translated as suffering, but it means something deeper than suffering and pain. It refers to a basic unsatisfactoriness running through our lives, the lives of all but the buddhas. Sometimes this unsatisfactoriness manifests as sorrow, grief, disappointment or pain. Usually dukka is a sense that things are never quite right, never really meet our expectations. There is an agitation of wanting something more.
The eight practices of the Eightfold Path are Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. The Eightfold Path contains three basic parts: ethical discipline, mental discipline, and wisdom.
Buddha entitled these eight practices the Noble Path. When we think of a path we perhaps imagine a clearing through dense woods, something that takes us somewhere. When we encounter the teachings of the Buddha, we stand before two paths: one path is our ordinary path carrying us forward in the same way we basically have been. The other path, the spiritual path, beckons a transformation from dukka to satisfaction and peace. Yet, this path requires dedication, effort, and letting go of our ordinary ways. In the coming weeks’ episodes we will look deeply at each of the eight parts of the Eightfold Path, following along with Buddha’s verses.
Now is the time to ask ourselves: Do I want to make a change? What would life be like if I followed the spiritual path with great dedication? Am I ready to dedicate myself to the spiritual path?
The best of paths is the Eightfold [Path];
The best of truths, the Four [Noble Truths].
The best of qualities is dispassion;
And the best among gods and humans
Is the one with eyes to see.
This is the path
For purifying one’s vision; there is no other. Follow it, You’ll bewilder Māra.
Follow it, You’ll put an end to suffering.
This is the path I have proclaimed,
Having pulled out the arrows. (273–275)
References and Links
Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 70 (Link)
Bodhi, Bhikku. The Noble Eightfold Path. Buddhist Publication Society, 1999. BuddhaNet. http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/noble8path6.pdf