The Four Noble Truths give rise to the Eight Fold Path which is the Journey out of samsara (the repeating cycle of birth, life, deqath and rebirth, ad infinitum)…..
The Eight Fold Path is a highly practical outline of an approach to the deeper questions of life, morality, and ultimate aspiration. The eight principles are…
1. Right Understanding
2. Right Thought
3. Right Speech
4. Right Action
5. Right Livelihood
6. Right Effort
7. Right Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration
In brief they mean……
Right View means to understand the Four Noble Truths. That suffering exists. to avoid wishful thinking. To see the truth as it is.
Right Thought (also called Right Intention) means to align ones goal with the realisation of the truth. Having understood that life is suffering, and that desire and grasping is the root of suffering, then one must not throw this realisation away with both hands. It demands some response from us. We aught to commit to a path of self-enquiry, and not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Right Speech means to avoid anger, gossip and all defilement of the power of words. Don’t hurt others. Don’t slander their names or reputation. The Dalai Lama says that before we speak such malicious things we should visualise our mouths filled with faeces, and then proceed if we absolutely must!!
Right Action means to abstain from harming others and that includes animals. though many Buddhists do eat meat they do so with great attention and respect for the life that has been sacrificed so that they might eat. Right action also means to avoid sexual misconduct (that does not mean celibacy), and to avoid stealing, and harm to ones own body. This includes suicide. Buddhists view the attainment of an intelligent human life, especially where one has been graced to hear the wisdom of the ages, as a very fortunate, rare occurrence which aught to be treasured.
Right Livelihood means to obtain the means of supporting oneself by virtuous actions. Specifically the Buddha warned against dealing in butchery, slavery, the means for waging war, or intoxicants.
Right Mindfulness is the beginning of moving into meditation. It refers to the correct cultivation of awareness of our body, mind, feelings, emotions, and then the relation ship of these to outside objects and experiences, attractions, reactions and rejections. Self-analysis of the thought processes and conditionings we take for granted.It is present moment awareness…to not let what one know’s slip away from one’s attention.
Right Concentration is the act of meditation itself. Absorption. It is where the senses have been completely withdrawn (pratyahara) and one is established in steady wisdom and non-duality.