THE NOBLE EIGHT FOLD PATH
Brothers and Sisters, Buddha by attainment to Buddhahood, not only realised the truth, he also realised the path that has helped others to follow and realise the same truth. That path is the Four Noble Truths, which Buddha realised. It has eight links:
1. Right Speech 2. Right Conduct 3. Right Livelihood 4. Right Effort
5. Right Mindfulness 6. Right Concentration/Samadhi
7. Right Views (Realisation of Four Noble Truths)
8. Right thoughts.
Of the eight links the first three links refers to your virtue. It is accepted that even the five precepts if one observes carefully is sufficient for the attainment. That covers all your activities regarding the body and expression. If that one wishes to observe more precepts he could do so the eight precepts and the ten precepts. If one wishes to go further, he could enter the order of monks and observes number of precepts in the way of a physical conduct of a bhikkhu.
One will ask the question what is the use of virtue in this path? Virtue controls your bodily acts and your expression. Buddha clearly stated that all your activities are committed as a result of a thought arising in us. Mind is the forerunner of all our activities.
Therefore, you could really imagine to commit a wrong in the way the body reacts, or to commit a wrong in a way of expressing or either faults or gossiping or slandering or words that hurt the feelings of another. But expressions are committed as a result of a thought arising in your mind. In regard to these activities bodily act and expression, they are both committed as a result of a thought arising in your mind. That is the way that you commit something wrong, you commit that wrong in aware of the consciousness. In the consequence of the reaction is that you will be repenting on what you have done. I did this. I should not have done that. I hurt the feeling of so and so. I created the displeasure in so and so and such feeling arise. If you ask the question yourself. If such feelings arise in your mind. Will there be calmness in your mind? Peace in you mind? You will have a turbulent mind always protesting against yourself. Why did I do this? I should not have done that. All sort of thoughts arise in your mind and disturb your mind. That is why Buddha consider Virtue as a essential quality one should maintain prior to make an effort to fix the mind at one point.
Mind has the tendency to run about. That tendency of the mind is not the quality of the mind. It is something which you make the mind to perform. That is the pattern of behavior that you introduce to the mind. There are six sense bases which ask the mind to perform in creation of a thought, invariably you to find that your consciousness is always in movement.
From the time you get up and up to the time to go to sleep. Hunting for objects to perform the activities of sense bases. It is not only hunt for such objects. It also reflects on experiences gained through by entertaining such objects. If such experience are of a pleasant nature, the result, could be a development of attachment in you. That attachment will make you to develop more and more such attachment and create a desire in you. If such thought were of antagonistic nature, which is again something you have done, or not in appreciation of an experience you have gone through, and naturally, that also begin to react in your mind in the nature producing more and more thoughts about it. That result in creating hatred in the mind.
I often told you that, if desire which is created in the mind in producing more and more thoughts about what you have experienced through the sense bases, or in an alternatives, that disgust created in your mind because you did not appreciate that object that has attracted the sense bases. Thereby created the ill feeling, or dislike, or animosity, or anger what ever it may be. They are of different grade only, but perform the same function in order to create aversion in your mind.
These two things they promote the desire. That is how desire maintains itself. Desire needs constant feeding. Why should desire have constant feeding? Because it is not the quality of the mind. It is something, which you have created in the mind. It is not part and parcel of the mind. When you have created something, to maintain that creation in that condition, one has to feed the creation. And the way one would feed this creation of desire of attachment is to fall into one of these categories of either aversion or attachment. And these two things you produce, are the result of random thoughts which you produce about an object of experience gained through the sense bases. The mind needs certain amount of calmness in your conduct and behavior, so that it could peacefully settle down on the one pointedness if you create. If there is a pull this way or the other way as a result of activities committed by you, the mind is not at rest. That is basically one should adopt tranquility. To create the tranquility of the mind. To maintain and undisturbed mind by an activities that you have committed and that is what virtue contributes.
You may tighten your belt so to say by observing more and more precepts. Thereby not permitting any loophole anywhere any circumstances anywhere to commit an act that will harm your tranquility. However, what is essentially needed in five precepts are basically to fulfills the requirements of virtue. So after that, that is something which you have to observe when you carefully analyze the virtue. Something that you have to observe that is to say that, not much effort is necessary to observe that, Except of course that you have to be careful not to commit a breach of the precepts that you have observed. Therefore, careful watch had to be made. That is something that has to develop on its own, so to say. There is no way to develop it unless you observe the precepts, and you make a determination I should observe the five precepts carefully, that’S all. If there is a lapse, observe the precepts again.
What is exactly needed, this at the time of your making effort of the mind at one point. What is the condition of your mind? It is well settled. No disturbance from outside in the way of commitment which you have done earlier? All those are just past incidents and experiences. They can not be brought back to the present. At the present moment, what you are doing is, you are keeping the mind quiet and peaceful by activities in no way harmful to that behavior of the mind. You are peaceful.
Then, the three other qualities that one has to develop after you have fulfilled the requirement of maintaining virtue are the essentials, are so to say the effort for activities on your path to follow these three things. RIGHT EFFORT, RIGHT MINDFULNESS and RIGHT SAMADHI.
You know something about religion. You know this philosophy is philosophy where you purify your mind, and transcend the mind to a higher state so that it could realise the true nature of things. For that activity, training of the mind is very essential. So these three things like Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration are the qualities of that mind which you expect to maintain.
What is the Right Effort? It refers to four things. It first refers to the development of the good qualities you have in you. You are, take for example very conscious of not hurting the feelings of others, you have that metta developed in you. That is something you are born with, so develop that to a higher degree. That is a good quality in you. Likewise, there are other good qualities in each of us and we identify them and develop them to a high degree. Object of following Buddha path in development of the mind and these qualities which are good and which you maintain namely to develop that degree of attainment. When such attainment can contribute to understanding and realization of the truths.
After developing what is good in you. You may make an effort to develop other things that are necessarily good in you. In the sense, samadhi is not there in you. That is the essential quality. Therefore, you make an effort to develop that good quality in you fixing the mind at one point and transcend in that mind to a higher state. These are two things that you must make an effort to perform.
Two other things that you should also observe, realise and understand these qualities, which are in me, are not conducive to my development along this path. They are not good qualities. Example getting angry or that sort of behavior is not helpful to your development. Therefore, you must be aware that I am subject to anger that is enough for me to go off and find fault with somebody. I do not have that enough patience to bear up a thing like that. Now that something which you identify as a bad quality in you. That quality is absolutely an obstruction to your development along the path. Make it a point and make every effort to get rid of that. Practice Metta.
I am practicing metta when I come back from something that upset me. I practice metta when I confront myself with a person whom I do not like, I practice metta on him and so to say, I live in metta whenever I can. And you are bound to develop your metta so that you could maintain a very tranquil mind. Full of metta to everybody which in direct and direct promotes your attainment along the path. That is something that you have identified in your mind as something bad, and now you have to make an effort to bring about a change in your attitude and you have done so well developing metta in you.
In addition, Buddha said do not permit to expose your mind to develop anything that, which is not conducive to our following this path. Something bad, which is you keep company with bad people. And that association has developed in you qualities that are not conducive to you to go along the path. Example you are a nonsmoker. Your bad company has created that feeling to smoke. Enjoy cigarette now and again. That is something that is protesting your mind from being contaminated by your wrong association. Therefore, pick and choose whom you should associate. And those whom you associate should be always people who will promote within you the qualities that are necessary for the development along the path.
Well, if you make a right effort like that. Every morning when you get up, what is the effort I should make today. I have this anger, I must get over that anger and practice metta right throughout the day. Likewise, identify these defects in you and overcome them. I often emphasised that Buddha is only the founder of the path and he is not falling to physically lead anyone to Nibbana. He could give you all the guidance necessary, all the instruction necessary for you to build up yourself by yourself. That is something which you must bear in mind. He found the path for us. However, he does not take the responsibility of guiding one into Nibbana. That is the matter left to you. That is why he said be a light unto yourself, and do not seek outside help for there is none who can help you. If you seek, it must be from within you. That clearly indicates to us the part he plays along this path and what he expects us to perform. That is something which you must bear in mind.
Effort must come from within. No amount of worshiping or offering will help you in that. Maybe you will be more and more devoted to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, but that does not help you. We have to under take control along the path for our final liberation. We have all the devotion to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for all that these three truths have done to us, Samadhi has to be developed.
Before I speak and touch on samadhi, I will explain what mindfulness means. As human beings, we are all absent-minded. Like a lunatic in asylum. He does not know what he is doing. He commits act on the spur of the moment irrespective of what result that will acrue. You also do the same thing. You do not know what you are doing. When expect to be a reasonable being on this earth as human being, but the essential quality that one should possess are as to be aware as to what you are doing. Are you aware of all that activities that take place in you? When you see something beautiful, and you create feeling of attachment to that object. Are you aware of that feeling of attachment to that object? It automatically happen in you. When you meet someone whom you do not like, the mere sight would create a thought of aversion in you. Are you are aware in creating these thoughts of aversion or just a spontaneous rising in your mind as a reaction to what you saw? That is where we are faulty.
Why are we maintaining that attitude as a human being? Because we have subject ourselves completely to habits. We have created habits in us and one pursues the habits; there is no thoughtful reflecting on the habit on the act we commit. No reflection on the spur of the moment you commit as a result of the habits. What are those habits that you had cultivated? You have cultivated the habit that promotes the worldly way of life, which is opposed to the truth we are searching. So, unless you develop this special good quality in your mind of being mindful, can you ever escape this worldly life that you have been living? No, you cannot. Why? When you are not mindful, you commit worldly acts. It is only mindfulness that will help you to check your condition of mind. Check your activities, as do not do that is against what you are trying to achieve. How are you going to check this? From birth and birth, you have led a worldly life. Your entire temperament is so fashioned to lead this worldly life. What is the quality that can be created in you to check this way of behavior of yourself? MINDFULNESS and nothing else. Mindful always do not permit the mind to fall back to this old way of life, old way of behavior. Misbehavior is promoting the worldly life and mindfulness is an essential quality, which you must bear in mind. That is the key to the development. That is the key to your getting rid of your defilements. That is the very essential quality, which you must make special effort to develop within you.
If mindfulness is not there, what happens to you? You may make an effort to develop yourself. May be that you will reach a certain height in your development,but when you give up that effort and you are not mindful, you fall back again to your old condition. Because you will start to practice the same old habits which are worldly and which are completely oppose to the development you expect to take place in your mind. Out of your unmindfulness you commit those acts and they break down, and they destroy that little development you have created in your mind towards the attainment.
Therefore, I always emphasise when you come to a place like this as yogies, you must extremely be wise and mindful. Talk less, verbal too not necessary. But you follow your mind. Follow every activity of your body and also in the creation of thoughts. That which is only conducive, that which are only applicable, that which are only healthy to your development of the mind towards your liberation. You should not commit any other. You must admit the fact that as a worldly, you had committed many many acts which are right opposed to what you are expected to attain which promotes the worldly behavior, which promotes the behavior of worldly subject to suffering. Therefore, be mindful.
And Buddha knew that for a worlding who has not practiced mindfulness, is rather difficult for him to immediate practice mindfulness and be aware of all activities he commits. This mindfulness is the great quality is an essential key leading you along the path. But, mindfulness Buddha introduces in such a manner into you, that it got rooted very well in you. How did he introduce this mindfulness? He said in the first instant, you could not be aware of all the commitments. Because your mind is not fashioned that way, shaped that way. So, what you should do is make it a physical effort.
How do you make mindfulness a physical effort? There are four postures, which you commit always. When you are sleeping of course, you are lying. When you are awake, you will be either standing, sitting or walking or resting. Four postures Buddha said mindfully do it. You cannot just say I am sitting, be mindful of sitting, and forget about sitting. Be conscious about that sitting. I am sitted. When you get up, when you stand, you can not just say I am now standing and forget about further activity of the body. Beware of the next change to take place in the case of either walking or lying. Up to that, you are aware of the body movement. Then live in that mindfulness right through. Therefore, Buddha introduced mindfulness into you by observing the physical activity of your body. Not all activities in the first instant but four postures of standing, sitting, walking and lying. That you can do, brothers and sisters when you are in the office.
Who will ask you the question what are you thinking? No one knows what you are thinking. However, you are maintaining mindfulness in yourself. When you get up, you are mindful. When you walk, you are mindful. When you sit, you are mindful. When you lie down, you are mindful. That is the basic of the mindfulness. That has to be developed within you. Otherwise you may try your best to be mindful in all activities, and you will never be mindful in all activities. Why? Because you have led the worldly life for many millions of birth where mindfulness is not the quality that you ever thought of. Moreover, your pattern of behavior as a worldly was just oppose to the mindfulness. Unmindful behavior of yourself.
When I ask you a question, can you ever reflect on few hours of the past and say I did this, I did that in an orderly manner, relate to me as to how you spent your time up to this moment? None of you can. Because you may have committed thousands and one things that you are not aware of. How did you commit those acts? Habits! Habits!
Habitually you are walking. Habitually you are standing. Habitually you are sitting. Habitually you are lying. So, there is no necessity for one to be thinking when one is standing. One to be thinking when one is sitting. One to be thinking when one is walking and one to be aware that when one is lying. Because those are habitual acts. That habitual acts in you ??/ has enabled you to be mindful. Habitually you are a slave to habits. If I go further, I shall say that all your defilements are habits and nothing else. You habitually conduct yourself in an unmindful manner and in directly promotes the worldly way of life. It is this unmindfulness in this pattern of behavior of yours that promotes the worldly life in you. Now you are going to break it completely. Leave out that pattern of existence. Get rid of it and see the true state of things.
What is the true state of things that you are going to be aware of? Everything in the world is subject to change, is of no value, emptiness. Everything in this world though they appear to be existing but not existing. Those are the three things that one must be mindful ultimately: ANNICA (Impermanence), DUKKHA (Suffering), and ANATTA (soullessness). Imagine brothers and sisters, if you can be mindfully in respect of all your activities and always bearing in mind that everything is impermanence! Impermanence! Impermanence! Impermanence! What is the condition of your mind? Will there be any attachment left in that mind of yours? Can you call anything your own? Can you call your body your own or your mind your own? No, not a thing. Everything is subject to constant change. There is nothing substantial in this. Nothing existing as such. Constantly changing from one condition to another. That is the final mindfulness that you have to maintain and develop in yourself. Always live in awareness that everything is subject to change.
Past is over. You can not recover the past. Future is yet to come. Present is one flow of one condition to another. One constant change going on. Beware of that. That is going to be the final mindfulness of yours. You live in that awareness that everything is constantly changing and you have developed to such an extent your mindfulness, you are aware that what had done in the past is over. They can not be reclaimed. You can not bring any of those conditions to the present moment. It is merely a thought and nothing else. All that has to occur in the future you may plan out. But, they are yet to come. So what are you confronted with, a constant change going on at this moment? And what is there in it? Nothing but Annica, impermanence. That is the truth you have to realise and live in.
Imagine yourself when you live in that truth. What will be your condition of life? You are a free man. You can not think of the past. It is finished, complete. Because that cannot be recovered, brought back to the present, it is over. You have no thought thinking of the future because that is yet to come, do not occur. We always hang on the things we are doing and is there anything that we do here this present moment. May be the present moment the very present moment you think of will be a fraction of a second. Is that fraction of a second is a changing situation of a second. Therefore is there anything in you? How do you know that you have a body? It is a thought only. How do you know there is a world right around? It is a thought only. And that thought is what you have created just now. Where is it now? Gone. Past. Finished. Therefore, this is going on in you now. Constantly changing from one condition to another. Well that is the higher aspect of mindfulness. But basically you must develop mindfulness.
Mindfulness will not only help you to realise the truth but also will help you to develop your mind to a higher degree. Ultimately this mindfulness that is helping you to fix your mind at one point. Mindfulness at the present moment changing moment. You are there that is all. Past, you are not going to reflect on the past or create the future for us. No! Therefore, mindfulness is helpful to you to realise the truth and at the same time develops your mind to a higher degree of concentration. And I always emphasise mindfulness is an essential quality. Unless you develop this mindfulness as required by the philosophy of the Buddha. That degree of perfection, which enables to realise that, this present movement in which you live in is not a moment that is static but is a changing moment. Therefore, there is nothing in you.
Your body is constantly changing. It has changed in the past. It is to be changed in the future if you exist in that period. Present moment, constantly changing. Reduce that constantly changing condition to a fraction of a second. Will there be a static moment in your body for that fraction of a second. No. It is constantly changing. A changing condition is there. What are those that have contributed to the construction of the body of yours? Elements. The quality of the elements is not to be static at one point for one faction of a second. A constant change is there. The four elements of solidity, liquidity, heat and motions. There are the four things which is the composition of your body and those four things are not static, constantly changing. So is your body change that occurs just a fraction of a second is over. A change is yet to come a fraction of a second ahead is yet to come. But what is happened now is this present movement is a constant change of time form one condition to another and that is the condition of your body. If something is impermanent. It is an accepted fact one cannot hold anything as permanent. Everything is impermanent subject to constant change. That is the realistic aspect of life. One has to develop within one to realise this truth in them. After all, bear in mind, Buddha although speak of many things on the surface but the deeper aspect of his doctrine is to realise that intricate nature of thing, which are not found on the surface. But, have to be realised by you when making use of your intelligence and see things in depth that is where the truth lies.
Then we come to the third important thing that you must develop within you and that is Concentration. Many ask what is the use of concentration? You ask yourself the strength of your mind now. It is of a scattering nature, constantly changing from one condition to another. It hasn’t that amount of patience to provide to a thing and see something in depth. Which is not seeing on the surface. Therefore, these are the qualities one would acquire by developing the mind to a high degree.
How is this done? Any power any force in this world once you permit that force to scatter about, then it has loosen its force. In a depth, you see it looses that. It has become just a changing thing one constantly changing and subject to constant change and goes on like that. But what you are doing now is in your concentration you are building up your power by heaping power over the other one over the other. Not allowing it to scatter about. Fixing object here and there but fixing at one point and maintaining that, you see. Strengthen the mind in pile one over the other and there may what happens? It teaches the transcend the state, the powerful state which has the capacity to see through things realistically understand that which is not found on the surface but found in depth. Ability also for you to concentrate a few seconds about the matter, which you can not understand at the moment, you concentrated but, subsequently you will realise through the concentration the true nature of the object.
All of us have scattered minds. It is the scattered mind that creates this world for you. Who created the world? This scattered mind. Any object through the eyes, ears, nose, body and tongue one after the other and either creating aversion to attachment to each of those experiences you gain through the six sense bases. Therefore, you have concentration developed within you, an essential quality. Because after all, the philosophy of the Buddha is complete at rest on the mental condition on the development of mind to high degree, and seeing things through the development of the mind and not through a mind that has not developed. Because those are very very intricate, subtle truth. They do not use very often. If your mind is prepared that way in that way of concentrated of the mind. When they do not use, you will see completely the different picture that you saw before. And, all that only you have developed your mind if forbid very well. They are not misleading you. They completely lead to offer right path for you to realise the true nature of things.
Therefore, development of the mind is essential in concentration. Is this something, which you are introducing into the mind? No! Brothers and sisters. ??? all over ever to be engaged in matter which are not true, which are imaginary. No! It is not for that purpose. This is a mental energy, a very very subtle energy but you misused it to that extent that you have created very powerful habits in the mind. Such habits are practice often in the mind by you with your support. And, the result is the mind has lost its true nature and lives in on a condition, which you have created to accommodate your foolish notions. Accommodate false views you have created, accommodate wrong impression you have created about things that are around you. Therefore, you need some attention to be paid to the mind. Fix the mind at one point one pointedness and then watch the movement of the breath from there.
I always say that your breathing in and out is an bodily act committed by the body. In that activities on concentration, consciousness does not play any part. Therefore, you can fix the mind at any point and then watch that place. If the activities you watch something that has nothing to do with concentration. In and out breathing is what you are going to watch. That is not a mental act, that is purely a bodily act, the body is doing that. Mind has nothing to do with that activity. Therefore, from a point outside, you can watch what is happening within you in that respect. And, that is what meant to. But, you have not done so in the past. You have created such a false habit in yourself that, you can not even keep the mind at one point which the physical act that we expect you to commit. Because the force of habits you have introduced into the mind now make that mind difficult to fix at one point and watch anything. But, effort will ultimately overcome that. To make an effort, make an effort when run away here and there, make an effort bring it back, bring it back, bring it back. With ten times to satisfy you. Another person it may be 20 times to satisfy him to bring his mind to concentration. Other may not have entire day any concentration at all. It just one mass of bubble moss from one to the other creating creating creating circumstances for you. Therefore, concentration is essential with the concentrated mind we then build up the four absorptions (jhana).
The purpose of building up the absorptions is to have a hold of the development of the mind. Do not allowing a power just to grow like that upward. Because if we allow that to happen, you will not able to keep this object in such tame. When it reaches the state when it can just rest. And there are places when the mind can solely allocate. And it can enter in any of these things and you are just there and like that until its come out on its own. But here the four conditions four absorptions hold the mind and do not permit the mind to go beyond the limit. When such limit is the limit which you make use of to realise the truth. Therefore, practice the absorption that is not difficult. Effort is necessary that is all.
In anything, effort is necessary. Here you are again trying to overcome a habit, which you have permitted the mind to scatter about in search of sense objects. You are now making use of the mind to fix itself at one point against the very habit, which you have created of wandering. Allowing the mind to wander. Therefore, certain effort is necessary to overcome the old habits. Make an effort, do not get discouraged because you can not fix the mind at one points. That is the nature of the mind. Some people take weeks to do that. Others may take months. I know of cases that have given an effort I do not know they said, even beyond a year to create it. The concentration aspects of the mind. Mind has that quality only thing that all look at that quality. So much that it is in the very past depth of the mind that been brought to the surface now. That your effort is the answer. Make an effort. Then once you have done the three things in respect to right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration and the two things of it which you will acquire are the four noble truths you realise.
What is suffering? The cause of suffering is Dukkha. One could get rid of cause of suffering as attachment and desire. One could get rid of desire or attachment. One could gain the final liberation. The path one has to follow is the eight-fold path. So when you think of this brothers and sisters, Buddha has taught us philosophy which is rational in every aspect. That none who can challenge at anything at any point. That you have preaching of the Buddha who give you the assurance that you will be a liberated person once you reach that height of liberation. He gives you the history of yourself as a worlding in the Dependent Origination (Paticca Samppada) and finally he advocates a certain pattern of behavior on your path. The pattern of behavior will lead you to the development of virtue, concentration and mindfulness, which ultimately will help you to get rid of desire and thereby attain Nibbana. Therefore, this path shown by Buddha is a very very clear path. Brothers and sisters there are nothing to doubt about it.
I remind you there may be books, and books, and books written on Buddhism by various Bhante, by various types of people who have very peculiar view. All that is their view. But for you and I there is nothing further for us to follow. The truth reveal by Buddha in his exposition of this theory to the world. That is a very very clear one. Develop yourself and see the samadhi panna virtue, concentration and wisdom. After that, you fight against your own consciousness against bad things that it has cultivated in this life of birth and death. And that bad thing when I said, things which are conducive to a continuity of this life of yours. We are dissatisfied with that continuity and we are now trying our very best to end this life as early as possible so that there will not be any more future birth for us. When there is no birth, there is no suffering for us. That is all what we are trying to achieve and it can be done brothers and sisters if only you make the right effort. Right effort keeps the necessary guidance, make the right effort and you are assured that the result of that effort, and that is Nibbana. May you all attain Nibbana.