Happiness is not a word the Buddha uses. He talks about Enlightenment, about Nirvana, about to see life as it is and learning to act accordingly. Suffering, he says, comes from things out of balance, out of focus in our lives.
Happiness to the Buddha does not lie in the things, or power or money. It is not accumulates, it is shaped out of the clay of the self. To eliminate suffering, he says, we must eliminate, control and master our desires. He says we must eliminate our complete devotion to them.
The eight fold path to the elimination of suffering is a simple path but not an easy one. To walk the path to the end is the project of lifetime.
The path is clear one. It is straight forward and direct. Its very simplicity disarms us. It guides us ethically and strengthens us mentally in order to protect from us from the pitfalls and allurements to delusions of which life abounds. But it is the delusions of life to which we cling.
The path deals with the eight dimensions of life that stop us on the way to enlightenment with all the glitter of false stones and faux riches to mark our way. These delusions offer the unwary who seek them out goods they do not have to offer and a like they cannot give
The Noble eight fold path call us to:
- Right View requires us to see things as they are, as the wise of our own era put it, “If it is too good to be true, it’s too good to be true”, We must come to realise that everything we see, were offered, are at best a kind of false God, promising a satisfaction we presume will be eternal only to discover that all of them are short lived, at best.” This, too, is passing is the mantra of the wise, of those who see thing as they are and refuse to become captive to any of them.
- Right Intention is this ethical response to having developed a right view. Once we see a thing what it is we treat it accordingly. Right intention includes the decision to resist desires, to meet all people, to go into all the situations in life with good will. Good will demands that we resist doing harm to any living thing.
- Right Speech is the commitment never to use speech to do harm – to lie, to slander, to hurry, or to be superficial in the way we treat the serious topics of life.
- Right Action requires that we put into practice what we say our principles are. It tells us to put our body into what we say our mind knows and our heart feels. It means that we commit ourselves to actions that make the world safe for others, as well as for ourselves. The Buddha says that we must harm no sentiment being, that we take no life, that we harm nothing intentionally, that we take nothing that has not been given, that we harm no one by misconduct.
Right action is a call for compassion. It is the resolve to walk and honest path through life, to injure no one, to lust after nothing, to deal justly with all.
- Right Livelihood calls us to earn our livelihood in a right eons and peaceful way, to gain our wealth justly. The Buddha, in fact, mentions four specific activities that harm others and must be avoided: dealing in weapons, prostitution, animal slaughter or intoxicants and poisons.
- Right Efforts require the seeker to put mental and physical energy into main path through life. It is not a matter of hoping that we are able to do what the Buddha prescribes. It is a matter of putting our whole heart and soul into doing the right – as too often we have given ourselves to doing wrong. It calls for lifelong commitment and personal discipline.
- Right Mindfulness urges us to concentrate on the things that count in life, on relinquishing judgementalism, on keeping our hearts straight and our minds clear so that we are not overwhelmed by confusion or negativity or meaningless distraction. We are to be single minded, intent on the thing that really matter in life.
- Right Concentration requires the serious seeker to bring a wholesomeness of mind and openness of heart to the continuing attempt to walk. The path with total consciousness of life as it is and life as it must be.
To the Buddha, happiness has nothing to do with living in a Disney land of adult delights. Happiness is a far more important dimension of life than that, both for the seeker and for the world.
Written by: Siluveru Sudarshan