A Little Buddhist Interlude

One thing that always gets me about Buddhism is how intensely psychological it is. It seemed to capture certain mental principles that weren’t fully understood until just recently, when medical science got into the brain.

Buddhism has flourished over the centuries because it works. Forget the spiritual aspects, think of Buddhism as yoga for the mind. You don’t have to be Hindu to do yoga, Buddhism is the same. It has lots of a-religious aspects, things that aren’t inside religion, but aren’t outside of it either; Buddhism is beyond it, it just works.

So hurry up, and give me some of it!

1. Right View – this is about removing the filters and emotional barriers. Seeing things for what they are, in an objective sense.

2. Right Intention – all things start in the mind. We set up our morals and ethics, and that sets up certain thoughts. Are we acting just for ourselves, or is there consideration for others?

3. Right Speech – words can kill. Seriously. If you’ve ever had sarcasm or bitterness directed at you, you feel the pain inside you. It hurts like a cut.

4. Right Action – how you go about doing somthing is important. In the west we say ‘the ends do not justify the means”.

5. Right Livelihood – if you’re Buddhist, I’m sorry, but you have to quit the mafia. Everyone has to earn an income, but it has to be done in the right way.

6. Right Effort – you shouldn’t waste your time. Time is the one thing you cannot get back. Don’t dally, use your time in the best possible way.

7. Right Mindfulness – this is where we start to get a little kooky. It ties into meditation, and knowing what’s going on in your head. Be aware!

8. Right Concentration – combining all these things will give you a united front. There will be a singular point of focus, which will shift automatically to what needs to be done. It will be directed, effective, purposeful, and beneficial to all. It is the zone.

That’s my take on the Noble Eightfold Path.

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8 Responses to “A Little Buddhist Interlude”

  1. Nita Says:

    I am very interested in Buddhism. There was a time I thought of converting from Hindusim to Buddhism because I agreed with many of it’s principles and I do not believe in rituals. Finally I didn’t…precisely because of the points underlined here. I guess I try to think like that anyway… I don’t need to have a label.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. fatsavage Says:

    I had a kid who worked for me who had converted to Buddhism. It was amazing – during every life crisis (mine of course) he would give me one of those pointless little stories that always had a point. (I still have a couple tucked in my desk.)

    But the most amazing thing was his tolerance of all people wise and unwise regardless of race, religion or creed. He actually lived it.

  3. SilverTiger Says:

    I was briefly an almost-Buddhist. Normally I don’t join things because no organization ever reflects my thinking (and feeling) exactly and I am a rather exact sort of person.

    I had become interested in religion as a result of reading up on Taoism and Buddhism and alien cultures always seem so much more fascinating than one’s own. So I took the plunge and joined a Zen Buddhist group. I left after a few months.

    There is a lot of good in Buddhism and a lot of bad, as with any human organization. If you feel at home in Buddhism, fine, stay with it, but don’t ignore the bad.

    I don’t feel at home in any organization that tells me how to act and how to think. Zen did that. I would rather be independently foolish (if I am foolish) than dependently wise. Zen, like Marxism, like Catholicism, doesn’t like people who think for themselves. I object deeply and profoundly to being told “You cannot possibly understand what we are talking about until you reach our exalted level.” If you can’t explain it, it probably doesn’t exist.

    There isn’t really any such thing as “Buddhism” except in popular “introductions”: there are many “Buddhisms”, all with their virtues and vices. Yes, vices. Maybe there is a Buddhism for each one of us but I am no longer interested. I prefer to think my own way through life. Tigers are many things but humble isn’t one of them.

    Email SilverTiger

  4. Dejan Says:

    Silver Tiger,

    If you don’t feel at home in any organization that tells you how to act and how to think, perhaps your way in life should be out of organizations, just as you said – to think your own way through life. I am not aware that there is any organization that has no rules. Also, constitution and laws are telling you how to act and how to think. Good thing to read is Walden by Henry David Thoreau (but I guess you have already read it), that is great literature for strongly independent thinkers. He wrote about civil disobedience when tax people wanted him to pay the taxes, although he lived in the woods and had nothing with state. They threw him in jail, and he wrote about duty of citizen to be disobedient.

    Be aware though that in comment you said: If you feel at home in Buddhism, fine, stay with it, but don’t ignore the bad. That means you are telling other people what to do and what not to do, and that is the very thing that you do not like when others do to you.

    For example, I do not see anything bad in the way that Buddha presented his teachings. You are right, humans always corrupt things, it is so true. But I do not get it what do I have to do with it, why should I keep my attention on “vices” as you said. If we do not ignore religious fanaticism in any religion, that would mean we should abandon every religion because, every religion is bad because there are a lot of fanatics in it. Existence of the shadow does not mean that sun emits that shadow.

    But, however, I strongly support thinking with one’s own head, and (paradoxically now) heartily recommend to everyone to read Emerson’s Self-Reliance.

    Compassion to All!

  5. SilverTiger Says:

    Your point is a fair one but there is a difference between passing on what one thinks is good advice and “telling people what to do”. If someone asks me for the station and I say “Go straight down and take the first left”, I am not “telling him what to do”. Would it be better to say “I personally would go straight down and take the first left”? No, they are semantically the same.

    The Zennists were not merely advising me; they were prescribing my behaviour and penalising deviations. That is very different. Logically, I cannot prescribe that someone not ignore something.

    I was not talking about Siddhartha Gautama, aka The Buddha. I think we know too little about him to talk of him meaningfully. Even the precepts we have were passed on verbally for a long time before being written down and who knows what has been scrambled or lost? The current dogma makes sense but then it would: it has been reconstructed by intelligent people. Is it Gautama’s Buddhism? How can we ever know? The same can be said of the teachings of Jesus. Does it even matter?

    Religions inevitably evolve. No religion remains true to the founder. It is impossible that it do so for no one has the founder’s vision. There are many Buddhisms, many Christianities. To believe in a religion is to believe in the institution that purveys that religion. The only escape is to invent your own religion but in that case why bother with a religion at all? Why not just do what you believe in?

    Note that I am not telling people what to do. I am not even wise enough to tell myself what to do. We each have to choose a path. If Buddhism makes someone happy, good luck to him. He may see the dangers in my path as I in his.

    And that, I think, is where I will leave the matter. Whenever religion is discussed the temperature inevitably rises. There is no such thing as objective discussion of religion (not even among atheists). Feel free to reply, of course, but I will not reply further in public though people can email me if they feel strongly.

    Email SilverTiger

  6. seekingfor Says:

    A great take on the Eightfold path. I found it most usefull. Thank you.

  7. ggwfung Says:

    I thank you. If my words are moving towards the truth, then I am gratified. I only speak on what I have observed.

    namaste

  8. 99 Says:

    Yipes. If this silly software lets me leave a comment here, it will have been because this is the first time I have seen anything that approaches dharma on the internet. Thank you.

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