The Eightfold Path are the core values of Buddhism that walk the practitioner through a modality of practice. My path has been a process of looking inward to find out what limiting beliefs hold me back. Discovering the root of these limiting beliefs helps to face them so they lose their power over controlling my actions. The relief of the subconscious self-deprecating cycle brings space for internal happiness to arise. In confronting these negative limiting beliefs, I have had many moments of realizing the depth these thoughts and emotions were carried. In releasing them, I have found peace and compassion for myself first, then people in my life. Studying Buddhism has given me the vocabulary and tools to help me further my process towards finding inner peace.
Using the Four Noble Truths is a way through the process. The first step is recognizing your dukkha, or something that is causing suffering. Ask yourself, what causes my stress? Then identify what the tanha is -which is the ego source of your suffering. Ask yourself, what thoughts go through my head about the stress? Next we can overcome the tanha – called niroda. Our old belief systems then can be deconstructed and transcended using the Eightfold Path.
The first of the Eightfold path is the Right of Knowledge, which is a recognition of use of the Four Noble Truths- the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. The next step is the Right Aspiration – what do we really want?
The third is the Right Speech, the first step in developing your self-awareness is to take notice our speech. Ask yourself, what it reveals about my character? It urges us to speak truthfully. For when we are not truthful we do so to protect something in us. When we have those moments of vulnerability and our ego wants to protect us, this is a great time to look deeper into where that insecurity is coming from. Once we understand where the behavior comes from, we can change it. Also, this right refers not to speak negatively to ourselves and of others. In my study of Reiki, I was taught that we can throw daggers at people by speaking ill of them. So by refraining from speaking ill of someone (being defensive) when someone has triggered you will actually save those daggers or chords from attaching to them energetically.
The fourth is Right Behavior, where Buddhism also has a sub-list of the Five Precepts of Ethics which consists of: Do not kill, Do not steal, do not lie, do not be unchaste- I interpret that as using sex respectfully for yourself and with others, do not take drugs or drink alcohol. Which follows into the fifth right, the Right of Livelihood – in devotion. This is the concept of where can you contribute to your faith. To bring your faith into your profession so that what you do is filled with the love and devotion of your faith. Or, how you live up to your core values.
The Right Effort is the sixth right. Buddha laid tremendous stress on the moral exertion. The slow and steady pace of the ox through the mire will get you to your desired destination through determination and diligence. Personally, I have learned about this through animal medicine the fall of 2015 when my cats got fleas. Flea medicine teaches about persistence and diligence which I practiced to get rid of them because they are very persistent buggers! This right has also shown up in my life in other ways about not listening to my self-doubt and to stick with projects I start. To not walk away when it gets complicated or overwhelming. To stick through until it's done. The reward is so much sweeter when I get through the other side of a complication.
The seventh is the Right Mindfulness which is another huge influence in my personal practice. We are a result of what we think and our perception is our reality and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Growing up I was taught that everything was black and white, good and bad. So when someone did something that I perceived as bad I would then think of that person as a bad person. The Right Mindfulness is the actualization that people are not inherently good or bad (sinners) but do things out of ignorance. Instead of thinking in finite judgments of someone’s moral character, I saw that I needed to be forgiving because they don’t know any better. Though, of course some things can be unforgivable, the saying “forgive but don't forget”- learn your lessons, heal, then move on, but don't forget the lesson learned.
The eighth right is the Right of Absorption, or having a perception shift or transformation. Once we have procured the knowledge we need, and learned the lessons from our problems, then we must make a shift in how we perceive our new reality. The saying, “when you know better you do better” is the essence of this right. Since the goal of Buddhism is to transcend ignorance, it is now the duty of the practitioner to take the responsibility to make better choices with the knowledge obtained.
In this process, of learning the depths of ourselves, our experiences, and our beliefs, we can funnel those human experiences down into a basic moral code that we can live by. It is a way to respect ourselves and others so that we all can live harmoniously. This starts from within us. “Freeing ourselves from ignorance” refers to understanding and knowing thy self- the depths of our consciousness- understanding our insecurities, our intentions, our triggers helps us to no longer be controlled by them. We no longer get triggered by the ignorance or malice of others because we can see it for what it is. This does not mean that we don’t feel anymore, it means that we aren’t reactive to the thoughts and emotions that we experience. We observe, contemplate, then act (or not).
If you feel inspired to learn more about how the Eightfold Path can help empower you to overcome your stress, anxiety, and regain control over yourself and your life again. Email me to set up your free 30 minute Discovery Session!