Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The eightfold path to the cessation of suffering

1. Right Understanding of the following facts:

  • the truth about suffering .
  • everything is impermanent and changes;
  • there is no separate individual self- this is an illusion. (We are one!)

2. Right Determination to:

  • give up what is wrong and evil;
  • undertake what is good;
  • abandon thoughts that have to do with bringing suffering to any conscious being; cultivate thoughts that are of loving kindness, that are based on caring for others' suffering, and sympathetic joy in others' happiness.

3. Right Speech:

  • Abstain from telling lies.
  • Abstain from talk that brings harm or discredit to others (such as backbiting or slander) or talk that creates hatred or disharmony between individuals and groups.
  • Abstain from harsh, rude, impolite, malicious, or abusive language.
  • Abstain from idle, useless, and foolish babble and gossip. Abstain from recrimination and negative statements.
  • Abstain from harsh speech—practice kindly speech.
  • Abstain from frivolous speech—practice meaningful speech.
  • Abstain from slanderous speech—practice harmonious speech.
  • Speak the truth if it is useful and timely. Practice only necessary speech. Let your speech be filled with loving kindness. Speak that which alleviates suffering.

4. Right Action:

  • Peaceful, honorable conduct; abstain from dishonest dealings; take concrete steps necessary to foster what is good.
  • Do things that are moral, honest, and alleviate suffering. Do not do things that will bring suffering to others or yourself.

5. Right Livelihood:

  • Abstain from making your living from an occupation that brings harm and suffering to humans or animals, or diminish their well being. This includes: activities that directly harm conscious beings, and activities that indirectly harm sentient beings, e.g., making weapons or poisons.

6. Right Effort:

  • Foster good and prevent evil;
  • Work on yourself—be engaged in appropriate self-improvement. The essence of right effort is that everything must be done with a sense of proper balance that fits the situation. Effort should be properly balanced between trying too hard and not trying hard enough. For example, strike the balance between excessive fasting and over-indulgence in food. Trying hard to progress too rapidly gets poor results, as does not trying hard enough.

7. Right Mindfulness or wakefulness:

  • Foster right attention.
  • Avoid whatever clouds our mental awareness (e.g., drugs).
  • Systematically and intentionally develop awareness.

8. Right Concentration:

  • Developed by practicing meditation and/or mental focusing. Proper meditation must be done continuously while awake, and should include work on awareness of body, emotions, thought, and mind objects.

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