Asked in Zen Buddhism
Zen Buddhism

What is the importance of the eightfold path?


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The Four Noble Truths are:

Life is characterized by unsatisfactoriness (pain, unhappiness)

This unsatisfactoriness is due to desire or craving

This unsatisfactoriness can be removed by eliminating desire

Desire can be eliminated (Nirvana can be attained) by the six paramitas: Generosity and Charity, Morality, Tolerance, Wisdom, Discipline (Perseverance), Meditation. The first three concern doing good for others. The second three concern doing good for oneself

The 3 last paramitas can be achieved by following the Eigtfold Path. These guides are:

Wisdom (The Exercise of Judgement)

1. Right understanding (right aspiration) - aspire to better the state of existence of yourself and others

Perseverance (Sound Ethical Discipline)

2. Right thought - think on that which is good

3. Right speech - be positive, honest, comforting and caring in what you say

4. Right action (Conduct) - do not be selfish but exert energy to do what you believe is good for all

5. Right livelihood - work for the good of humanity and use your talents well

6. Right effort - do not exert effort in pursuit of worthless or harmful goals

Meditation (Concentration and Focus)

7. Right mindfulness - direct your attention to that which is good and proper

8. Right concentration - be actively and wholly caught up in a way of life filled with love and good work

Attendance to these guides will help overcome the the "Mind Hindrances" (negative mind energies). These are:

Lust: The sense of neediness outside of biological need. The antidote for lust is restraint.

Aversion: The sense of anger and negativity. The mind looking for a fight.

Sloth and Torpor: A mind state of low energy, looking to fall asleep.

Restlessness: Fidgety and jumpy in mind and body. A high-energy mind looking for sources of worry.

Doubt: Self-generated demoralizing thoughts sabotaging faith and trust

The eightfold path helps us understand the basis of all life experiences and provides us with coping skills. The awareness of life experience leads us to three conclusions:

Impermanence (Annica): Nothing lasts forever.

Unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha): Life is an ongoing series of adjustments as we seek comfort.

No separate self (Anatta): The endless stream of experience is all there is. There is no watcher.

As we become more comfortable following the eightfold path, we create for ourselves places to rest and recharge. These are the Divine Abodes are:

Equanimity: Holding all things in an ease filled balance

Lovingkindness: The spontaneous reaction to all beings

Compassion: The reaction to others pain

Sympathetic Joy: The shared delight of the good fortune of others when we become aware of it

The strength to continue on the eightfold path come from three sources. These are the "Three Jewels":

The Buddha: A demonstration that a human being can, by taking thought, escape from pain and suffering

The Dharma: Provides a route to follow to progress beyond pain and suffering

The Sangha: The community of people following the path. We are inspired by those ahead of us; and offer inspiration to those behind us; we support and are supported