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Eightfold Path Wisdom


By Newagemag.com - 5/30/2013

The Sera Monastery
  Photo Credit: Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock.com

The purpose of Buddhism is to reach enlightenment, and the way to do that is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. Though it's easy to mistake as a step-by-step guide you should follow, it should be understood as a series of guidelines that all should be implemented simultaneously and continuously. All parts of the Path are connected, and to see how we'll go through each of the "steps" in turn.

Let's start by looking at the first two parts of the Path, Right View and Right Intention. They both concern wisdom and will later be followed by guidelines on ethical conduct and mental discipline. Bhikkhu Bodhi says in The Noble Eightfold Path, The Way to the End of Suffering that "right view provides the perspective for practice, right intention the sense of direction."

Right View is the starting point of the Eightfold Path, where you are asked to understand and reflect on your destination, enlightenment. You are encouraged to see life and the world as they truly are. This includes attaining an understanding and knowledge of the Four Noble Truths as well as other principles such as karma and samsara. The goal is to see the reasons for our existence and understand the temporary nature of all things.

What begins as reasoning and reflection over your position and your destination will eventually, as you move through the Eightfold Path, become wisdom. In a way Right View acts as both starting point and end point, since a true understanding of suffering and the uprooting of ignorance are what will lead to enlightenment.

Right Intention means aspiring to act rightfully and ridding oneself from bad qualities. It's about making a commitment to improve yourself mentally and ethically. The Buddha talked about three right intentions. The first is to resist desires, not because our desires are wrong or evil, but because they are a cause for suffering. The other is to resist feelings of anger and aversion by practicing showing love and kindness to ourselves, our friends and our enemies. The third is to nurture compassion, as opposed to cruelty or aggression.

A person who often thinks hostile thoughts will eventually make this the basis of his or her mind. One who frequently thinks positive thoughts of compassion and kindness will in turn become a loving and compassionate person. You need a good understanding of the Right View to know which aspirations are good or bad, and thus have the Right Intention.

These two parts of the Noble Eightfold Path form the basis. In the next article we will have a look at the next steps concerned with ethical conduct.


 








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