After the previous post that addressed the conscious effort necessary to understand the problems and the causes of confusion and stress in our life; and after realizing how simple meditation is preformed; the final step in Naked Buddhism is living a productive life through the Buddha’s teachings.
Whether or not the actual Buddha prescribed the Eightfold Path is inconsequential. Like the Bible, the Buddha’s teachings were past from oral tradition through hundreds of translations. I would like to think that the Buddha suggested these guidelines for living a fulfilled life, but regardless of the origin they seem to me a path worthy to strive and to follow.
The eight aspects of the path, also known as the Eightfold Path, are: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right meditation.
Note - in other religions restrictions are laid down: though shall not… In Buddha’s teachings the Buddha simply insisted that you inherently know what is right and wrong, and that you always choose the right over the wrong action. Instead of laying down laws the Buddha described a path that can help in leading a fulfilled life on this earth.
1. RIGHT VIEW: The Buddha recognized that the world is in a state of constant change – constant flux - and to hold a rigid view or concept or belief or opinion is to become entrenched in dogma. We should clear our mind of preconceptions and view the world and situations as they actually are in the moment. Accept change and adjust accordingly.
2. RIGHT INTENTION: Interact with the world selflessly – for the good of all – not self centered. Begin each day with compassion for others and a realistic understanding of what the outcome of our actions will have on others.
3. RIGHT SPEECH: Speak the truth as you perceive it, but never speak to injure others.
4. RIGHT ACTION: Following charismatic leaders and becoming entrenched in doctrines and dogma is relinquishing you free thought and will. Be your own person - do what you know to be right.
5. RIGHT LIVELYHOOD: The ideal job would be one that we would enjoy. This is what we all wish for; but in reality few are so fortunate. In our material world we work at jobs strictly in order to live a lifestyle that we desire. We have to meet the basic requirements of food, shelter and security; and of course it is our nature – and not bad - to want more; provided that an obsession to succeed doesn’t distract us from living each day to the fullest. It is also important that we not knowingly work in any occupation that causes harm to others. Therefore, because we must work, we should try and be conscious, productive and satisfied with our labor, Change the things we can change and except the things we can not.
6. RIGHT EFFORT: We should make an effort to live in each moment. We should also realize that the things we do effect others and we should endeavor to cause no harm. Living in the NOW requires we step away from our preconceptions, prejudices and social conformities and address each issue anew – making decisions as needed; all the time striving to appreciate the beauty and wonder of the moment – being aware of the privilege of being alive.
7. RIGHT MINDFULNESS: We should seek to be conscious in each moment. We should be aware of the distractions that seem to demand our attention and realize that it is the NOW that is important. We should consider how we are actually engaged in the world from moment to moment and recognize that unconscious stress (duhkha) is the cause of discontent - and only by identifying the cause can we except the problem and move beyond it.
8. RIGHT MEDITATION: Right meditation is making meditation an integral part of our daily life. We should take time each day to meditate – if only for a few minutes. Through meditation we clear our minds of distractions and become focused. By meditating we relax our body and give our mind down time – a rest period – a reboot.
There is much more to Buddhism: Buddhist stories, sayings, concepts and art. But the naked basic teaching of the Buddha is to live productively in the moment – fully aware each day – and to appreciate the beauty and mystery of our short life. All the rest is distraction.