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Akeyla
October 23rd, 2005, 12:19 AM
What is the Noble Eightfold Path?

Buddha realized after he had reached enlightenment that he needed to develop an expedient method that would appeal to the hearts of people. He also recognized that he needed to teach the Truth in a different way then had ever been taught in his time. He reached the conclusion that his teachings should focus on attaining the ‘right’ state of mind. We needed to examine our state of mind and compare it to a more placid state, closer to Buddha (God); He called this state the True Self.

As we live out day to day lives we come into contact with others and we tend to be swayed by an incessant flow of thoughts which makes it difficult to know the True Self that lies within us. When we retreat from our busy lives, from others and their vibrations, we can find the True Self. We tend to put on an act when other people are around, perhaps out of vanity, our feelings of inferiority, etc. However, when we make the effort to sit and meditate, the part of us that is true and honest will emerge.

This is the purest part of our soul and the beginning of the Noble Eightfold Path is to examine our own thoughts and deeds from the perspective of this True Self.

Shakyamuni Buddha developed eight checkpoints in which we can examine our lives and make the right changes, if needed. They are; Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

The adjective ‘right’ does not imply a simple set of behaviours against which people can judge themselves to be right or wrong. Rather it means a ‘right’ state that can only be attained through deep contemplation.

Shakyamuni practiced self-reflection in the evenings or at the break of day. As he continued to examine his thoughts and deeds he began to experience his mind gradually becoming lighter and being purified.

So why is it necessary to practice self reflection?

Because self-reflection is the method through which you can recover your authentic self that shines, your True Self in the Real World (meaning spiritual world here).

The first step to take is to remove the dust and impurities that overshadow your soul, to return to a state in which you give out bright light. Only after having reached this state can you begin to help others. To benefit others by giving out what you have attained is the mission of Bodhisattva. But before that it is necessary to take command of your own inner world.

Example: Suppose you want to wipe some dishes. If the dishcloth is dirty, no matter how carefully you try to clean a plate with it, your effort is wasted. The first thing you have to do is clean the dishcloth. The same applies for mopping the floor with a dirty mop or wearing a beautiful dress with dirty underwear. Or a teacher that does not have sufficient learning, no matter how hard he tries to teach his students, it is unlikely that they will really improve.

So while it is very easy to have altruistic thoughts, you cannot truly benefit others or help them, unless you are firmly established in yourself. Therefore it is essential to take the first step of ‘cleaning’ your soul, so that your inner light can shine forth. This is one of the great secrets of self-reflection.
Each and every human is given complete autonomy over their own state of mind. Before you can achieve concrete results in helping others to ‘clean’ their souls, it is absolutely essential that you have experienced the feelings of lightheartedness as unnecessary burdens are lifted.

This idea can be interpreted in a narrow way as egotistical, but unless you are ready to improve yourself, you cannot even take your place at the starting line to study the Laws of Truth.