So, what do we do?
The Buddha gave us an outline called “the eightfold path”. This path gives us a practice to overcome suffering. There are these eight things that are conducive to our awakening, to helping us overcome our suffering by seeing reality as it really is. I’m going to go over those eight now.
- Right View: This is cultivating an expansive view that isn’t so caught up in our narrow preconceptions, emotional baggage, and I-Me-Mine thinking all the time. This is a view that sees that things are always changing and that nothing is independent of anything else. We are parts of a whole.
- Right Intention: This means we are in this for the right reasons. We’re doing this to lessen our suffering. Therefore we take it seriously.
- Right Speech: We want to be honest and forthright. Avoid lying. Lies distract us. Also avoid harsh speech and gossip. Use your words to be kind. We can do so much harm with our words.
- Right Action: Do good deeds, but also act from a state that’s not so connected to outcomes. Don’t help someone in the hope that they will later help you. Help them just to help them.
- Right Livelihood: Earn a living in a way that promotes honesty and harmony.
- Right Effort: Cultivate a determination to be engaged in each moment and to abandon delusion. Be diligent.
- Right Mindfulness: Keep in mind the real problem, suffering, and also be here now. Observe the mind and become aware of how it works.
- Right Meditation: Training the mind to be focused and aware, not just on the meditation cushion, but all the time.
That’s it. The four noble truths is really the first teaching that the Buddha gave and many would argue that it’s the most important.
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