The Noble Eightfold path has always seemed like a very “cheem” concept, hard to grasp, and full of restrictions. It is one of the fundamentals of the Buddha’s teachings, eight guidelines on what to do, each guideline represented by a spoke on the Dhamma wheel, an iconic symbol of Buddhism.
Personally, having came into contact with Buddhism properly at the end of last year, this concept wasn’t unfamiliar to me. It however, felt very unattainable, something I didn’t seek to even find out about. However, the sharing conducted by Jia Min and Tessa last week was very gratifying for me. I was immediately exposed to so much of the wise teachings of the Buddha that was so relatable in my life now.
The Noble Eightfold Path can be split into 3 parts – Morality (Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Speech) Mental development (Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration) and Wisdom (Right Thought, Right Understanding). Looking at these 3 overarching categories, and at the eight different guidelines itself, you soon realise that many of these are connected, only with right understanding can there be right action. And sometimes, right understanding can only come about with the right mindfulness.
The sharing was very applicable to us in our daily lives, it touched on many of the real life applications, and how we could walk the middle path in the midst of our lives. There were many takeaways from the sharing, but one thing I took away from the sharing was something pointed out by Sister Amy, the fact that all 8 paths discourage the 3 poisons – Greed, Hatred and Delusion.
There are many things this post can touch on with regards to the Noble Eightfold Path, and this short post will definitely not be all encompassing in the understanding of the Noble Eightfold Path, but I would like to share my take away from this particular sharing. There are many things I took away, many of it related to real life applications on how to walk the middle path. One of which would be that of morality.
Morality has always been widely talked about, and in many situations, we are told to do what’s morally right. Morals are values that are promoted, that tell us to do good and be good. Morals are universal; a good moral in one culture will be a good moral in another. When it comes to morality, or when we zoom in on 3 out of 8 of the paths – right speech, action, livelihood, we are told to abide by our morals.
However, therein lies the problem. It is assumed that one knows what the morally right thing to do is. That being said, if one was immersed in a culture full of bad morals, how would he then be able to determine what the right speech, action and livelihood are? For us to fully determine whether our actions fit in with morality, Brother Zeming brought up a point on the harm principle. Basically, something that causes harm to others shouldn’t be done because it is deemed to be not the right path, because it causes suffering to others. That really brought in closure for me and really led me to understand more about the noble eightfold path.
Reflections by Jessa, SBMY Member.