2020-11-04 Eightfold Path-Right Consideration (3 of 3)
4:33PM Nov 4, 2020
So my friends, it's the task to continue with the Eightfold Path. And the topic is quite topical for our times. The first two factors of the Eightfold Path are usually considered to be wisdom factors. Some people translate the word paññā as discernment. The ability to discern, to see clearly what's going on here. And with wisdom comes action.
And the second part of the Eightfold Path is called sīla, usually translated to English as ethics or as virtue. But the word sīla literally means conduct. And usually understood in this context to mean virtuous conduct. Wisdom, the first two factors the Eightfold Path, prepare us for conduct. How we act, the actions we have in the world.
And there are three kinds of actions that Buddhism emphasizes. There's the actions of the body, of speech, and of the mind. And the wisdom factors begin to show us, encourages us to begin, maybe in small baby steps at first, to begin taking responsibility to avoid the actions which are unwholesome, unhealthy. And to choose those which are healthy. Not to force ourselves, not to overlay something on top of ourselves, not to pretend exactly, or to live under heavy obligation.
But we always begin with ourselves. If the world begins with us. And it begins by us looking at what is here for us. And really getting to know what's here, before we act. Or to say it differently, to be mindful is the first act.
In a sense, maybe we can allow the world to begin with each act of mindfulness. This simple knowing, simple recognizing what's here. And of course, there's going to be all kinds of things that we do which are unwholesome, non unhelpful, caught up in anger, and hostility and greed and delusion, of course. As the mindfulness gets strong, we learn to see that clearly. Without shame, without conflict, but to see in a certain kind of way, allow it to be there. Only in a certain kind of way. Just sit in inner awareness.
And then in seeing clearly, having the wherewithal to say, "No, I don't have to get involved with that. That's there. That has arisen. I've had those thoughts. I don't have to invest in those or believe in them or go along with them." And that can be done peacefully, it can be done without conflict, it can be done without hostility, or it's like I said, without shame. Just no. And we can choose what's wholesome.
And maybe take some reflections, some consideration to discover what's wholesome. And to discover it in a way that has integrity. Not to do it because it's a policy that we should do it. And that's why we this phenomenal benefit of meditating is to discover a way of being where there's response-ability, but without the burden of responsibility, with a sense of obligation. Because where the Eightfold Path is going, or what it's really about, as the goal or as the beginning, is freedom. The heart's release from all its suffering, all its constriction.
So as I've been saying, there's two versions of the Eightfold Path. The version that takes us to freedom, and the version that arises from our freedom. And on the way to freedom, we learn to pay attention to all these different factors. The first factor is to really appreciate deeply that our actions have consequences.
As we begin to discover freedom, then that's where we really begin to have more and more freedom in choosing how to create our world. How the world that flows out of us. And we can choose that which is wholesome. But sometimes it take some consideration. And some kind of consideration, some kind of reflection, some kind of discernment about what is it that's helpful here, what's wholesome, what's good. And this is the second factor of the Eightfold Path, the consideration that whatever we do have these considerations, these concerns, as part of figuring out what to do.
One is to avoid addiction to sensual pleasure, to be caught in the grip of that. To avoid ill will. And to avoid, the usual translation is cruelty. It might be that the translation is harmfulness, doing harmful things. And then to do the skillful things, the wholesome things, that's the right consideration, the appropriate consideration.
So to renounce, in a sense, the addiction to sensual pleasures, and to avoid ill will, and to avoid cruelty. But these, especially there are also positive sides to this. This renunciation of sensual pleasure, I think of it as a life of blessed simplicity. Where there's this beautiful quality of simplicity of being that doesn't need sensual pleasure for satisfaction, for happiness, for joy, for a sense of being alive and connected. There's a deep sense of simplicity, blessed simplicity, that is a kind of a phenomenal wealth.
The non ill will is kindness, and care, and loving kindness. That to act with kindness, to act with friendliness, that is skillful, that is wholesome.
And then the idea of non harm or non cruelty, encompasses the worlds of compassion, and care that we have. To really care for the world. So on the way to freedom we understand that this kind of care for the world, kindness, friendliness, compassion, this really sets up the conditions for freedom. It sets up the conditions for growth in the Dharma. It really nourishes us and supports us. And it's meant to nourish the world. Not to be involved with others with addictions to sex, for example, which is so much suffering in our society. Not to be caught up in the addictions of alcohol, which causes so much widespread suffering in families, for generations really.
To care for our society is to avoid sensual addictions. To care for our society is to be kind and friendly. To care for our society is to be compassionate. That this right consideration is integrally connected to the actions that we set in motion in the world.
The second set of the Eightfold Path has all to do with action. And this is setting the stage for the quality of those actions. We're giving consideration, what do we want to infuse our actions with? What do we want to flower and flow from our actions? What do we want the fruit of our actions to be? And the fruit of the results, the consequences in the world for our actions are a world of difference if we avoid the unwholesome and we do the wholesome. Especially in our social actions.
And so kindness, friendliness, loving kindness, compassion, care, to really care for others. I love the word care because of its dual meanings. It means to have kind regard, concern about something, to appreciate something, I care for something, I appreciate it, I value it. And the other meaning is to tend to, to fix, to repair, to heal, to do something supportive for something. I care for my family, and therefore I care for them. I do things for them. I care for this world.
And so the question for you is, how is it that something wonderful, blessed simplicity, blessed friendliness and kindness, blessed compassion and care? How is it? How can it arise out of your freedom, your tenderness, a place of being non conflictive? Really, when you settle deeply. And maybe to answer that question, coming out of something like meditation, or a walk in nature, or a time when you're really feel like you're at home and at peace and centered. How is it that these beautiful qualities flow from our inner non conflict, our inner peace, our freedom?
And if you have some sense that that's possible, then even when you don't feel your freedom, maybe you can discover a quality of freedom in acting on kindness and friendliness. In acting in compassion and care. In acting in being simple. To consider and act and be this way, can also be a discovery of freedom. And it's important then we don't do it as an obligation and force ourselves, and grit our teeth to do these things. But what do we have to let go of? What do we have to release? How do we have to open up so in a genuine way, we can have blessed simplicity, we can have friendliness to our world of all people, and have compassion and care for all people in this world?
And how can we be free from looking at the world around us the wider world and expect the wider world to be different? To expect the wider world to behave well. The wider world to provide its own answer to the the ills of our society. Why give that authority away? Of course we can wish and work for that. But let the world begin with you. Let your goodness. Let what you most strongly believe is the best and nourishing and wholesome parts of who you are act in ways that nourish and bring forth the best in other people as well. And out into the world. Let your goodness, let your freedom, let you're wholesomeness be the beginning, every day, for a better world that spreads from you. So right consideration, the second factor of the Eightfold Path is to think deeply and considerately about what is wholesome and unwholesome, and act in ways that are beneficial.
And that will bring us to the next step of the Eightfold Path. The next three all have to do with this action, what we do. And so this is setting the foundation. And the next three, they all have to do with action, and how they affect the world around us. That this path of Dharma is intimately integrally connected to making a better world. To being in the world in a particular way. And that's why at the end of the meditation I said, somewhat maybe challenging, or heuristically for particular teaching point, that meditation is the preparation for the practice. And the practice begins as we leave our meditation and are out in the world.
So thank you. May you take very good care of yourself. Just take really good care of yourself today and in this week in all kinds of ways. And if you have this practice, you will find your way. It might take a while but you will find your way. Thank you.