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Remembering the Eightfold Path
Posted: 10/4/2011 | Personal Development Comments
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Remembering the Eightfold Path

I went to the gym today. I love going to the gym! I forget how much I love coming, so I’d been putting it off for a few days, and finally I made it there. Yea! As I used the Stepper machine (One of my favorite places to edit blogs) I thought to myself, “Thank God I’m here!” I moved my body and allowed my mind to wander. I thought about my father who died recently, and the grief I’ve been experiencing. I thought of the hundreds of things on my “to do” list, and how I’ve fallen behind in my schedule. And I thought about how grateful I am for all the great opportunities percolating in my life, like coaching, writing, TV, speaking and counseling. Then, I realized, my gratitude is really the law of attraction at work.

Soon my thoughts returned to everything I need to do and I could feel myself begin to stress. I stopped and told myself, “Just breathe. You’re on track, everything is right on time and you are exactly where you need to be.” I had the wonderful privilege of having Lama Surya Das, author of Buddha Standard Time, on my radio show recently. He is enormously kind and definitely “walks his talk.” I was moved by his kindness, and I’m excited to think about having him back as a guest again soon. As I exercised I considered the Eightfold Path that Lama Surya Das explores in his book.

Just to explain, this is the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path describing the way to end human suffering and practical guidelines to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing us from attachments, delusions and finally understanding the truth about all things. Together with the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths it constitutes the essence of Buddhism. These are to be done practically and not thought of being in sequence but as highly interdependent principles that are in relationship with each other.

The first step is Right Views. This means to see things clearly, just as they are. I’d been feeling burdened with all I had on my plate. When I stepped back, I could see how my life was brimming with exciting opportunity! I realized I could stop stressing in that very moment, breathe deeply, and recognize I am guided and all is just as it should be. With this view I see I’m actually getting everything I’ve been asking for! May right views guide our thoughts and actions.

The second step is Right Intention. This is where we begin to understand cause and effect. We intend to think and act kindly, without violence and develop compassion. This step guides our actions as well, and works in tandem with right views. May we always err on the side of kindness.

The third step is Right Speech. When we use words that are true and appropriate for the situation, we are aligned with our highest good. We speak from kindness, without deceit or hostility, without hurting or diminishing others with our words. We also speak from substance and avoid speaking when unnecessary. This step guides me in my writing, my radio show, when speaking to groups and one-on-one with clients. May we all use right speech.

Next is Right Action. We abstain from doing harm. We act kindly, compassionately and honestly. We act in a way that supports our work and helps others as much as possible. Here I was at the gym, plugging away on the Stepper, a great form of Right Action! May we all abstain from doing harm to ourselves and others.

The fifth step is Right Livelihood. This means to engage in honest labor that brings no harm to others, benefits others and ourselves. This goes all the way from working a “job” to living our true vocation. We can create wealth honestly and in a righteous way. May we all do our vocation with integrity.

The sixth step is Right Effort. Striving is the way we can achieve anything and it requires our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy. With diligence, perseverance and enthusiasm we create fulfilling lives and serve those around us. May we all find pleasure in our efforts.

The seventh step is Right Mindfulness. This means to be alert and present in the moment. It requires clear perception, active observation and disciplining our thinking. We are present to what is around us without judgment or manipulation. May we all be mindful moment to moment.

The eighth and final step is Right Concentration. This indicates focus, or one pointed mind. In meditation we focus on a single point, thought or object. As we practice right concentration, we develop our facility for observation, understanding, and ultimately spiritual freedom. May we all find our ability to focus.

So here I was at my beloved gym starting to stress, and then I began to see how I am already creating all I’ve desired in life. These steps are the great reminders that we need to keep us on path for spiritual, personal and professional success. If we followed the Eightfold Path, we’d live from our true selves. Our psychology remains relaxed and we can see the steps or places we’ve forgotten to care for.

My cutting edge is on Right Effort. I still have that old work ethic inherited from my family culture, and so I can tend to work a lot and work hard. But I do see that I often employ joyous enthusiasm, and this lightens my load significantly. We can all use this structure as a way to acknowledge what we already do well, and to see where we can correct our paths with an open, compassionate mind and heart.

Have you looked at your life and work from this perspective? Where do you see your life flowing, and where do you see you are challenged? Your comments make a difference for all of us!




Comments:

Warren Laidler    http://warrenlaidler.com,    Posted: 10/20/2011 1:41:05 AM

Great post Dr. Jen. Thank you for the Eightfold Path reminder. This came at a time when I really needed to revisit these concepts. Peace and blessing to you.





  
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