37 Limbs of Enlightenment – 8 fold path
The eightfold path is uniquely Buddhist and according to Buddha, it is the basis for which one can attain enlightenment. This is something that we should bear in mind and an important introduction for beginners.
The 8 fold path basically covers our way of life, both physically and mentally.
The 8 factors mentioned are mutually supporting and like the spokes of a wheel, it support our practice towards enlightenment. Let us start with right understanding.
Right understanding is also known as Right Views. Basically, it removes ignorance from our perspective. What kind of understanding should we have? well, basically
- Life is impermanence
- Our physical body is inherently susceptible to aging and disease.
- The mundane happiness is not true lasting happiness.
The above can be easily understood from our current perspective
- There is an endless state of rebirth after death
- There is karma
The above requires a certain degree of faith and belief.
- Everything does not have an inherent self but is empty by nature.
- Rebirth and suffering can be ended after one’s Enlightenment
- Enlightenment is true blissfulness.
- Buddha Dharma teaches us a way towards Enlightenment
The above can be experienced as one gradually improves in meditation.
For a beginner, the 1st 3 views will encourage one to look beyond our mundane existence. The next 2 motivates us to seek a higher Truth. Basically, this is what drove mankind into religion. The last 4 is possible only when a Samyaksam Buddha appears in the world. And as we practice, we experience the truth of it.
To put it simply, we are what we think we are. The thoughts in our mind creates our persona. But thoughts are not inherent and is susceptible to changes. In short we can be influenced into changing our views. We can also consciously change our thoughts and thus, our persona. So what are the right thoughts. Thoughts are right if they
- lead us to right actions and right speech
- Promote loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity in our mind
- leads to non-attachment (such as the 4 mindfulness)
- make us diligent
- promote Right Understanding in our mind
This refers to our effort in practicing Buddhism and is part of the 37 limbs of enlightenment (4 right efforts). In addition to that, right effort concerning our mind training is discussed in earlier posts about meditation; where Buddha advised us to avoid the extreme of slothfulness or agitation. In short, it is a correct positioning of our mental attitude towards practice. A balanced approach to spiritualism that prevents us from becoming an extremist.
This refers to being mindful of our action, speech and thoughts. Thus, we are mindful of morality when we are mindful of our actions and speech. Being mindful of Dharma. Being mindful of our emotions and feelings. Being mindful of our mind (is it lethargic or energetic?) and the thoughts within.
Right concentration can also be called right meditation. Buddha had 2 meditation teachers before He started on his own method. Their practice was rejected by Buddha. Thus, certain concentration achievements and methods had already been denounced by Buddha because they do not lead to enlightenment. To understand Buddhist meditation, we can explore the scriptures for more instructions. Fundamentally, we have the 4 Jhanas and what to do after achieving Jhanas (reference Kevatta Sutta). Also as mentioned in earlier post [37 limbs of enlightenment – 4 bases of miraculous power.]
Our deeds and our mind are inter-related. Thus, we cannot be evil and be Buddha too. For a lay person, right actions basically means practicing the 5 precepts. Beyond that, right actions also encompass the manner we interact with the world. Although, the 5 precepts do not cover fair employment or discrimination; right action means that we act honorably, fairly and in accordance to the various positive traits of humanity.
Thus, a good Buddhist cannot be exploitative. A good Buddhist cannot be discriminatory. So on and so forth. In short, there is no excuses for behaving badly.
This concern our communication with others. Be it our spoken communication or email or comments left on facebook; we avoid the followings:
- Violent speech such as curses and vulgarities
- Idles speech such as gossiping and chatting
- divisive speech (cos it promotes animosity)
This concern the way we earn a living. In short, our trade or profession should not result in harming another sentient being.
The above is known as the noble eightfold path in Buddhism With that, we conclude the 37-limbs of enlightenment.
Sadhu. Sadhu. Sadhu.
May all be well and happy.
For Reference (37 limbs of enlightenment)
4 mindfulness (四念处) – Being mindful that (1) Our physical body is impure and repulsive (2) All sensations leads to sufferings (3) Mind is impermanent (4) there is no “I”
4 right efforts (四正勤) – (1) cease all unwholesomeness (2) do not create new unwholesomeness (3) preserve and maintain existing wholesomeness (4) Create new wholesomeness
4 bases of miraculous power (四如意足) – (1) Concentration build upon desire (desire for samandhi) (2) Concentration based on persistence (3) Concentration build upon intention (4) Concentration of contemplation (Reference Link)
5 roots ( 五根) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
5 powers (that arises from the 5 roots) – (1) Faith/conviction (2) Energy/persistence (3) Mindfulness (4) Stillness / jhanas (5) Wisdom/understanding
7 factors of Enlightenment (七菩提) – (1) Mindfulness (2) Investigation (3) Effort (4) rapture (5) Relaxation (6) Concentration, (7) Equanimity
8 fold path (八正道) – (1) Right Understanding (2) Right Intent (3) Right Speech (4) Right Action (5) Right Livelihood (6) Right Effort (7) Right Mindfulness (8) Right Concentration.