Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path
& The Paradox of our Times

By D.K. Matai
(Courtesy of D.K. Matai and intentblog)

The Noble Eightfold Path, re-discovered by The Buddha and other great holy Saints, is often described as the way to Nirvana, i.e., rising above the Physical and Astral planes towards the Causal. Nirvana is described as the ineffable ultimate in which one has attained disinterested wisdom and compassion. There are the two other planes beyond that -- Par Brahamand and Sach Khand -- as Perfect Masters explain.

The Buddha literally means the Awakened or Enlightened One; Seer of the Inner Light up to Nirvana, which is the Causal plane. The title Buddha was given to Prince Siddhartha Gautama (583-463 BC), founder of Buddhism. Beyond the Causal plane, of course, is the need for The Perfect Spiritual Master to continue to show the way forwards on the inner journey of self-manifestation of the universal consciousness towards the fourth and fifth planes: Par Brahm and Sachkhand, ie, the True Home, where as Socrates in ancient Greece, stated, "Logos" or the Creating "Word" resides. The Buddhists refer to the two planes beyond Nirvana as Para-Nirvana and Mahapara-Nirvana.

The Noble Eightfold Path avoids the extreme of self-torture that weakens one’s intellect and the extreme of self-indulgence that retards ones spiritual progress. It consists of the following eight factors:

1. Balanced Understanding  
2. Balanced Thoughts  
3. Balanced Speech  
4. Balanced Action  
5. Balanced Livelihood  
6. Balanced Effort  
7. Balanced Mindfulness  
8. Balanced Concentration

1. Balanced Understanding is the knowledge of the Four Noble Truths. In other words, it is the understanding of oneself as one really is. The keynote of Buddhism is this Balanced Understanding. Buddhism is based, as much, on knowledge and not on unreasonable belief.

2. Balanced Thoughts are threefold. They are:

(a) The thoughts of renunciation which are opposed to sense-pleasures.  
(b) Kind thoughts which are opposed to ill-will.  
(c) Thoughts of harmlessness which are opposed to cruelty.

These tend to purify the mind.

3. Balanced Speech deals with refraining from falsehood, stealing, slandering, harsh words and frivolous talks

4. Balanced Action deals with refraining from killing, stealing and unchastity. It helps one to develop a character that is self-controlled and mindful of right of others.

5. Balanced Livelihood deals with the five kinds of trades which should be avoided by a lay disciple. They are:

(a) trade in deadly weapons  
(b) trade in animals for slaughter  
(c) trade in slavery  
(d) trade in intoxicants  
(e) trade in poisons

Balanced Livelihood means earning ones living in a way that is not harmful to others.

6. Balanced Effort is fourfold, namely:

(a) the endeavor to discard evil that has already arisen.  
(b) the endeavor to prevent the arising of unrisen evil.  
(c) the endeavor to develop that good which has already arisen.  
(d) the endeavor to promote that good which has not already arisen.

Effort is needed to cultivate Good Conduct or develop one's mind, because one is often distracted or tempted to take the easy way out of things. The Buddha teaches that attaining happiness and Enlightenment depends upon one's own efforts. Effort is the root of all achievement. If one wants to get to the top of a mountain, just sitting at the foot thinking about it will not bring one there. It is by making the effort of climbing up the mountain, step by step, that one eventually reaches the summit. Thus, no matter how great the Buddha's achievement may be, or how excellent His Teaching is, one must put the Teaching into practice before one can expect to obtain the desired result.

7. Balanced Mindfulness is also fourfold:

(a) mindfulness with regard to body  
(b) mindfulness with regard to feeling  
(c) mindfulness with regard to mind  
(d) mindfulness with regard to mental objects.

Balanced Mindfulness is the awareness of one's deeds, words and thoughts.

8. Balanced Meditation

Meditation means the gradual process of training the mind to focus on a single inner eye and to remain fixed upon that without wavering. The constant practice of meditation helps one to develop a calm and concentrated mind and help to prepare one for the attainment of Wisdom and Enlightenment ultimately.  
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Why is there a need for The Noble Eightfold Path in the 21st century?

This is because of "The Paradox of our Time" (attributed to a number of different sources)

1. The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider motorways, but narrower viewpoints.

2. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time.

3. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

4. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

5. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

6. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor.

7. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

8. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

9. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.

10. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

11. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

12. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

13. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

I. Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.  
II. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.  
III. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.  
IV. Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all "mean it". A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.  
V. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.  
VI. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

DK Matai is an engineer turned entrepreneur and philanthropist with a keen interest in the well being of global society. DK founded mi2g in 1995, the digital risk specialists, in London, UK, whilst developing simulations for his PhD at Imperial College. DK helped found ATCA - The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance - in 2001, a philanthropic expert initiative to address complex global challenges. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on opportunities and threats arising from climate chaos, radical poverty, organised crime, extremism, informatics, nanotechnology, robotics, genetics, artificial intelligence & financial systems. ATCA has over 5,000 distinguished members: including several from the House of Lords, House of Commons, EU Parliament, US Congress & Senate, G10's Senior Government officials and over 1,500 CEOs from financial institutions, scientific corporates and voluntary organisations as well as over 750 Professors from academic centres of excellence worldwide.

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