Zen Guide

The Eightfold Path.

Buddha laid down the eightfold path for his followers and enunciated that by following this path, they could put an end to their suffering.

This eightfold path, as laid down by Buddha, helps an individual attain the state of Nirvana by freeing him from attachments and delusions and thereby helping him understand the innate truth of all things. This path, therefore, helps a person with his ethical and mental growth and development.

Buddha laid great emphasis on implementing the teachings since a higher level or existence can be attained only by putting translating thoughts into actions.

The eightfold path suggested by Buddha involves adherence to:

1. The right View.

By right view, Buddha means seeing things in the right perspective. Seeing things as they really are, without any false illusions or pretenses. He wanted his followers to see and to understand the transient nature of worldly ideas and possessions and to understand that they can attain salvation only if they practiced the right karma.

2. The right Thought.

Buddha says that we are what we are because of what we think. What goes on inside our minds (our thought process) determines our course of action. It is, therefore, necessary to follow the path of Right thought or Right Intention. To have the Right Intention or the Right Thought, a person should be aware of his purpose or role in life and is studying the teachings of Buddha.

3. The right Speech.

Buddha asks his followers to speak truth, to avoid slander and malicious gossip and to refrain from abusive language. Harsh words that can cause distress or offend others should also be avoided while also staying clear of mindless idle chatter which lacks any depth.

4. The right Action.

Behaving peacefully and harmoniously; Right action, according to Buddha, lies in adherence to the following guidelines:

- Staying in harmony with fellow human beings
- Behaving peacefully
- Not stealing
- Not killing anyone
- Avoiding overindulgence in sensual pleasure
- Abstaining from sexual misconduct
- Not indulging in fraudulent practices, deceitfulness and robbery

5. The right Livelihood.

By laying down this guideline, Buddha advises his followers to earn their bread and butter righteously, without resorting to illegal and nefarious activities. He does not expect his followers to exploit other human beings or animals or to trade in weapons or intoxicants.

6. The right Effort.

Buddha believed that human nature imposes undue restrictions on the mind at times, causing a person to harbor ill thoughts. So we have to train our mind to think in the right direction, if we wish to become better human beings. Once we gain control over our thoughts and replace the unpleasant ones with positive ones, we shall be moving in the right direction.

7. The right Mindfulness.

The Right Mindfulness, together with the Right Concentration, forms the basis of Buddhist meditation. By proposing this, Buddha suggests his followers to focus mentally on their emotions, mental faculties and capabilities while staying away from worldly desires and other distractions.

It refers to the ability of the mind to see things as they are without being led astray by greed, avarice, anger and ignorance.

8. The right Concentration.

This eighth principle laid down by Buddha is fundamental for proper meditation. Zazen (or, Zen meditation) is the only way to reach the right concentration of Zen. Needless to add, this is the most vital of all the aspects stated in the Noble eightfold path since without proper meditation, an individual cannot move on to a higher level of well being.