Eight-Fold Path is the fourth of the Four Noble Truths - the first
of the Buddha's teachings. All the teachings flow from this foundation.
Four Noble Truths are
The Noble Truth of the reality of Dukkha as part of conditioned
existence. Dukkha is a
multi-faceted word. Its literal meaning is "that which is
difficult to bear". It can mean suffering, stress, pain,
anguish, affliction or unsatisfactoriness. Each of the English
words is either too strong or too weak in their meaning to be
a universally successful translation. Dukkha can be gross or very
subtle. From extreme physical and mental pain and torment to subtle
inner conflicts and existential malaise.
The Noble Truth that Dukkha has a causal arising. This
cause is defined as grasping and clinging or aversion. On one
hand it is trying to control anything and everything by grabbing
onto or trying to pin them down, On the other hand it is control
by pushing away or pushing down and running away or flinching
away from things. It is the process of identification through
which we try to make internal and external things and experiences
into "me and mine" or wholly '"other" than
Me. This flies in the face of the three signs of existence - Anicca,
Dukkha. Anatta - Impermanence. Stress or Suffering and No-Self.
Because all conditioned existence is impermanent it gives rise
to Dukkha, and this means that in conditioned existence there
is no unchanging and permanent Self. There is nothing to grasp
onto and also in reality, nothing or no 'one' to do the grasping!
We grab onto or try to push away ever changing dynamic processes.
These attempts to control, limit us to little definitions of who
The Noble Truth of the end of Dukkha, which is Nirvana
or Nibbana. Beyond grasping and control and conditional existence
is Nirvana. "The mind like fire unbound." The realisation
of Nirvana is supreme Bodhi or Awakening. It is waking up to the
true nature of reality. It is waking up to our true nature. Buddha
Nature. The Pali Canon of Theravada, the foundational Buddhist
teachings, says little about Nirvana, using terms like the Unconditioned
the Deathless, and the Unborn. Mahayana teachings speak more about
the qualities of Nirvana and use terms like, True Nature, Original
Mind, Infinite light and Infinite life. Beyond space and time.
Nirvana defies definition.
means "unbound' as in "Mind like fire unbound".
This beautiful image is of a flame burning by itself. Just the
flame, not something burning and giving off a flame. Picture a
flame burning on a wick or stick, it seems to hover around or
just above the thing burning. The flame seems to be independent
of the thing burning but it clings to the stick and is bound to
it. This sense of the flame being unbound has often been misunderstood
to mean the flame is extinguished or blown out. This is completely
opposite to the meaning of the symbol. The flame "burns"
and gives light but is no longer bound to any combustible material.
The flame is not blown out - the clinging and the clung to is
extinguished. The flame of our true nature, which is awakening,
burns independently. Ultimately Nirvana is beyond conception and
intellectual understanding. Full understanding only comes through
direct experience of this "state' which is beyond the limitations
and definitions of space and time.
The Noble Truth of the Path that leads to Awakening.
The path is a paradox. It is a conditioned thing that is said
to help you to the unconditioned. Awakening is not "made"
by anything: it is not a product of anything including the Buddha's
teachings. Awakening, your true nature is already always present.
We are just not awake to this reality. Clinging to limitation,
and attempts to control the ceaseless flow of phenomena and process
obscures our true nature.
path is a process to help
you remove or move beyond the conditioned responses that obscure
your true nature. In this sense the Path is ultimately about unlearning
rather than learning - another paradox. We learn so we can unlearn
and uncover. The Buddha called his teaching a Raft. To cross a
turbulent river we may need to build a raft. When built, we single-mindedly
and with great energy make our way across. Once across we don't
need to cart the raft around with us. In other words don't cling
to anything including the teachings. However, make sure you use
them before you let them go. It's no use knowing everything about
the raft and not getting on. The teachings are tools not dogma.
The teachings are Upaya, which means skillful means or
expedient method. It is fingers pointing at the moon - don't confuse
the finger for the moon.
* Samma-Ditthi Complete or Perfect Vision,
also translated as right view or understanding. Vision of the
nature of reality and the path of transformation.
Samma-Sankappa Perfected Emotion or Aspiration,
also translated as right thought or attitude. Liberating emotional
intelligence in your life and acting from love and compassion.
An informed heart and feeling mind that are free to practice letting
Samma-Vaca Perfected or whole Speech. Also
called right speech. Clear, truthful, uplifting and non-harmful
Samma-Kammanta Integral Action. Also called
right action. An ethical foundation for life based on the principle
of non-exploitation of oneself and others. The five precepts.
Samma-Ajiva Proper Livelihood. Also called right
livelihood. This is a livelihood based on correct action the ethical
principal of non-exploitation. The basis of an Ideal society.
Samma-Vayama Complete or Full Effort,
Energy or Vitality. Also called right effort or diligence. Consciously
directing our life energy to the transformative path of creative
and healing action that fosters wholeness. Conscious evolution.
Samma-Sati Complete or Thorough Awareness.
Also called "right mindfulness". Developing awareness,
"if you hold yourself dear watch yourself well". Levels
of Awareness and mindfulness - of things, oneself, feelings, thought,
people and Reality.
Samma-Samadhi Full, Integral or Holistic Samadhi.
This is often translated as concentration, meditation,
absorption or one-pointedness of mind. None of these translations
is adequate. Samadhi literally means to be fixed, absorbed in
or established at one point, thus the first level of meaning is
concentration when the mind is fixed on a single object. The second
level of meaning goes further and represents the establishment,
not just of the mind, but also of the whole being in various levels
or modes of consciousness and awareness. This is Samadhi in the
sense of enlightenment or Buddhahood.
The word Samma means 'proper', 'whole', 'thorough',
'integral', 'complete', and 'perfect' - related to English 'summit'
- It does not necessarily mean 'right', as opposed to 'wrong'.
However it is often translated as "right" which can
send a less than accurate message. For instance the opposite of
'Right Awareness' is not necessarily 'Wrong Awareness'. It may
simply be incomplete. Use of the word 'right' may make for a neat
or consistent list of qualities in translations. The down side
is that it can give the impression that the Path is a narrow and
moralistic approach to the spiritual life. I use variant interpretations
so you consider the depth of meanings. What do these things mean
in your life right now?