The Buddha’s Eightfold Path
Cycling through Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos it has been impossible to ignore the influence of Buddhism on the people of South East Asia. Whether passing saffron-robed monks, filling my nostrils with incense or camping in the temples that decorate almost every small village and town, Buddhism is everywhere.
Southeast Asia came to know of Buddhism as a result of increased contact with the Indian merchants who had come to the region to trade. These merchants not only established trading stations in Southeast Asia, but also brought their religions and cultures with them. Under their influence, the local people began to practice a mixture of Buddhism and Hinduism, while retaining at the same time many of their old beliefs and customs.
Trying to understand as much as I can about the Buddhist philosophy while I ride north through South East Asia I have done my best to recognize the Buddhas Eightfold path. Fond of a beer at the end of day, prone to frustration at the best of times and often too quick to criticize, it has been far from easy, but then I don’t think it was meant to be. To have ago yourselves here is a link to the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold path for you all to follow at home so we can all try and reach Nirvana and achieve an end to all suffering.
- 1. Right Understanding
The Right Understanding is crucial to understanding the Buddhist belief system, particularly the identification, causes, consequences of, and through these eight steps, the elimination of suffering. The Right Understanding also conveys an understanding of the Buddhist philosophy of the non-permanence of the self.
- 2. Right Thought
To have the Right Thought, a follower should fully understand his purpose in following the teachings of the Buddha, as well as his outlook on the world and world issues.
- 3. Right Speech
The focus of the Right Speech is to avoid harmful language, such as lying or unkind words. It is far better to use gentle, friendly and meaningful words, even when a situation calls for a truth that may be hurtful, despite the follower’s best intentions.
- 4. Right Action
The Right Action forms a list of fundamental ethical behaviors all practicing Buddhists should follow. These are the Five Precepts:
To refrain from destroying living beings
To refrain from stealing
To refrain from sexual misconduct (adultery, rape, etc.)
To refrain from false speech (lying) 5.To refrain from intoxicants which lead to heedlessness
- 5. Right Livelihood
Those seeking enlightenment should pick the Right Livelihood to support the other fundamentals of Buddhism. Followers should avoid employment in positions where their actions may cause harm to others, be it directly or indirectly.
- 6 .Right Effort
Buddhists recognize that human nature limits the mind at times and causes ill thoughts. Unlike Right Thought, the Right Effort focuses on working to remove the bad thoughts and replace them with positive, more pleasant thoughts.
- 7 . Right Mindfulness
The Right Mindfulness, along with Right Concentration, is the foundation behind Buddhist meditation. Monks, or other followers, should focus their minds on their body, emotions, mental workings, and mental qualities, but not on worldly desire and aversion while meditating.
- 8 . Right Concentration
Coupled with Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration lays the framework for proper meditation. Rather than focusing on the mental aspects, the Right Concentration gives instructions as to how to work through the steps of focus in effective meditation.