Understanding The Noble Eightfold Path and how can it help with living well

Understanding The Noble Eightfold Path and how can it help with living well

Pain and suffering

In mindfulness there is a saying Pain is inevitable suffering is optional. According to Buddhist teaching if we follow the noble Eighfold path, we can overcome suffering.

8 fold path is a list that includes moral virtue, wisdom and meditative culmination of heart and mind. The list of eight is the following:

  1. Right understanding
  2. Right thought
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration

Intention to aspire to make the aligned choices with the 8fold path and be gentle and understanding to self is a good starting point.

Wings of Love and wisdom

Why would I do that at all besides overcoming the suffering, is because there is something in me that deeply resonates with what Tara Brach presented as two wings that we are cultivating: the wing of Love and wing of Wisdom.

 Now true wisdom doesn’t mean that we have read and memorized x amount of books and we can intellectualize on the topic for hours. Maybe you have come across this pyramid that says we can have data, then usage of data is information and information used in practice and integrated with learning is wisdom. And true Love also is not romantic, is deep, it’s strong and powerful and not mushy at all.

Story with the bird

Yesterday I came into a room and I could hear a pigeon trying to get out and trying to find its way. He was banging into the glass repeatedly, not recognizing where the window ends and where there is freedom of him flying away. I have learned that if you approach a butterfly, or a bird and trying to hold them and put them outside, they become more scared of your presence and that hectic wanting to go out accelerates or totally freezes. This time I decided to try to approach the pigeon with as much stillness that I can without my nervous system automatically reacting to the unusual situation. And I put on the thin gloves for me and the pigeon sake. I don’t know who was more scared. I could feel the wings reacting, and I could feel my belly reacting. So I needed to find a space in myself to hold and let go. And we managed. I let him go and he flew away.

Or how the website Tricycle says it: https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/

 “Here compassion represents love, charity, kindness, tolerance, and such noble qualities on the emotional side, or qualities of the heart, while wisdom would stand for the intellectual side or the qualities of the mind. If one develops only the emotional, neglecting the intellectual, one may become a good-hearted fool; while to develop only the intellectual side [and] neglecting the emotional may turn one into a hard-hearted intellect without feeling for others.”

Practical living with this in mind

To be honest one can, well depending on personality some more then others, easily fall into taking this in a prescriptive way. Or…  there is another way of keeping that knowledge somewhere in mind and observing oneself:

  • how am I making my decisions,
  • how am I using my words,
  • am I allowing myself to believe all my thoughts,
  • how does it feel when I step more into my heartspace, lovingkindess, nurturing to self and others
  • where is it tempting to put in too much force and when am I giving up too fast because of fear, how am I nurturing my body, so that I keep my mind clear.
  • What am I believing and how am I understanding this situation, is this the truth or there is also another perspective, that is more liberating?
  • How often I am returning to my breath and body as the anchor to this moment?
  • How is this situation for me, is it pleasant or unpleasant, am I paying attention at all to what I am feeling?

This for someone who studies Buddhism is oversimplification of the richness and depth it is offered in text, yet I am sharing this through my own lens and putting this in practice to the extent that is available for me at this point and it might serve as a spark of thought and action for some of you as well.