The Noble Eight-fold Path
By Bhiksu Heng K’ung
Just as a house is built with the aid of blue prints to insure that the end result is a comfortable and stable structure, so also is a proper attitude towards life developed through well guided effort. It is not easy to develop an attitude of mind that remains comfortable despite the surrounding conditions. Most of us act our part in life and experience life according to how life is unfolding around us. If conditions are good we act our part well and are happy, but when surrounding conditions are adverse we often lose our sense of responsibility and become annoyed. But a person must be able to view prevailing conditions with an attitude of even-mindedness if he is to be able to see things in proper perspective. If he has the proper perception he will be able to act in a responsible way regardless of the conditions and be a corner stone in his community. Whether one's position is low or high, the key to happiness is just the ability to recognize one's usefulness and the knowledge to reflect this in action when conducting our affairs.
The Noble Eight-fold Path is an approach to life that is designed to develop qualities of character such as virtue, compassion, and equanimity and qualities of mind such as concentration and wisdom. Such qualities as these are necessary if we are to grow to the maximum of our potentiality.
Because the circumstances and natures of living beings vary, the Buddha devised many skillful techniques to serve as healing medicine for the variety of spiritual illnesses plaguing humankind. This particular essay on the Noble Eight-fold Path is most suitable for application in daily life and the medicine is given in the form of ancient principles that can be applied in a variety of life situations. The Four Divine Abodes, the Ten Skills in Absorption, the Six Sense Inclinations, the Four Holy Truths and other topics are brought out in detail as a means to illustrate these principles.
The Noble Eight-fold Path was spoken by our original teacher Sakyamuni Buddha as a method for devotees who are bent on enlightenment to realize their aim to become disentangled from the net of bondage.
Right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration, right views, and right thinking constitute the Noble Eight-fold Path.
Right action, and
Constitute the virtue-aggregate of the Path.
Right mindfulness, and
Constitute the concentration-aggregate of the Path.
Right views and
Constitute the understanding-aggregate of the Path.
As well as tasting good food, the tongue can also taste bad food. As well as speaking pleasant constructive words, a person can speak unpleasant, destructive words. Just as we care for what we eat, we should care for what we speak. The tongue is shaped like a lotus petal. Although the lotus grows out of the mud, its flower is very beautiful. Although our minds may be clouded and dark with deluded, affliction-ridden thoughts, we should earnestly strive to make our spoken words well directed, uplifting, and pleasant to hear.
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