Buddhists believed in order to reach a state of cessation, or nirvana, steps must be taken to achieve elimination of all suffering. These steps are considered to be the Noble Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path consists of eight steps that lead to arahatship, the “state of one who has awakened” (Noss, pg. 182). These steps do not need to be completed in order, but can be obtained simultaneously. The eightfold path was created from the fourth truth of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, one of the most important teachings of Buddhism.
A contemporary Buddhist would be able to live a life in our modern times, and be able to follow the eightfold path. The first step is right belief. This path simply means to believe in the Four Noble Truths, and view lifein its simplicity. A modern Buddhist would simply need to have a straight- forward way of life, to be able to see the true nature of their environment. The second step is right aspiration or purpose, also called right intention.
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This is considered to be a commitment to self- improvement, and a commitment to understanding the path to nirvana. This includes resisting the pull of desire, resistance to ill will and bad feelings, and resistance to violence and aggression. This path can be practiced by being kind to others and not having any bad thoughts or feelings towards others. The third step is right speech. Right speech is considered not speaking ill of others, always being honest, andto be genuine with others. This is an easy step for a modern Buddhist to follow.
They just need to be honest to others and avoid hurtful talk. The fourth step is right conduct, which is also a practice of simplifying matters. This also includes the practice of precepts in Buddhism that include no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no destroying living beings, so on and so forth. In modern times, a Buddhist can live their way as simple as possible and avoid complications. The fifth step is right means of livelihood, which simply means picking an occupation that is in accordance with Buddhist principles.
A contemporary Buddhist would just need to find a job that allows them to enjoy their job, and not to cause any problems for others or for nature and the environment around us. For example, a position with a company that recycles paper would be considered a right means of livelihood. The sixth step is right effort, the process of concentrating on good thoughts and pushing out the bad thoughts. This can be accomplished by focusing on kindness and honesty, and pushing away violence and mean thoughts towards others.
The seventh step is right mindfulness. Right mindfulness involves being aware with every aspect surrounding us, and being conscious of our thoughts. It is consideredpart of the foundation for meditation. Buddhism includes the four foundations of mindfulness: focusing on your body, your feelings, your state of mind, andyour mental qualities. A contemporary Buddhist can practice this through meditation and by focusing on paying attention to all the positive details in their lives. The eighth and final step is right meditation or absorption.
This includes the concentration of meditation, where the mind focuses on one object, normally a positive aspect. This final step is necessary to reach arahatship, and eventually leads to nirvana. Contemporary Buddhists use right absorption to focus their meditation, and to find balance and peace in their lives. Now that I have analyzed Buddhism, I find that the practices of the Eightfold Path to be very enlightening. Whether a person is Buddhist or not, all of these steps should be implemented just to be a better person.
If I followed the Eightfold Path, my life would be much simpler. I personally feel that I try to strive for these things anyway, but I don’t always succeed. I have always considered myself a good person, and I try to see only the good things in life. If I were Buddhist, the way I view my relationships with people in my life would change. I try to stay positive, but that is not always possible with a husband who is negative himself, and with three young boys who love to get in trouble. My job wouldn’t change at all; I love being a stay-at-home mom for my kids.
I am also taking the time to further my education so I can do what I have always loved: teaching young children and improving their lives through knowledge. My way of approaching certain subjects would change, I’m sure. If I practiced Buddhism, my way of expression would change; I would try harder to be understanding of other people, and I would probably not be sarcastic. I have been told many times that I am a smart ass. I would probably need to learn how to let go of that as a Buddhist. Materialistically speaking, I don’t think too many changes would be made.
As a family of five with one income, I have learned to appreciate whatI do have and let go of the things I want but do not need. Now if only my kids could learn that. For me, I value good moments in life, such as a good book, taking my kids to the park, getting the final good night kiss of the night from my boys as I tuck them in. Those are the things that are important to me. Buddhism offers many good ideas and principles; whether a person is a Buddhist or not, the Eightfold Path is a great way to maintain a happy and healthy life. Maybe we should all strive for nirvana.