For the past few years I've been studying Buddhism, as it's the religion I identify with the most. Within the past six months I have come across a few books that have helped me to understand and incorporate into my life the core concepts of Buddhism.
I'm going to keep my “previous marketer OCD tendency to SEO-optimize every post I write” at bay and simply put onto this blog my current understandings, in plain English, of what I learn. I hope this helps you to understand these concepts as well.
If you have any questions about what's written in these posts, please leave a comment and I'll answer, to the best of my ability and current understanding, in a reply or another post.
The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path
Life, being constant change, can never satisfy our selfish desire and therefore leads to (mental and physical) suffering. Selfish desire is the desire for what life cannot give: permanent pleasure unmixed with anything unpleasant. Suffering caused by selfish desire can be extinguished by following an eightfold path. When selfish desire is extinguished, nirvana, a state of wakefulness, of peace, of joy, of perfect health, remains. The eightfold path consists of:
- Right understanding: seeing how life really is — constant change; everything that comes into being passes away (impermanence)
- Right purpose: willing, desiring, and thinking that is in line with life as it is
- Right speech: speaking kindly
- Right action: acting kindly — treat all creatures as yourself for they love life and fear pain just as you do
- Right occupation: living not just for oneself but for the welfare of all — have a job that does not harm or allows others to harm other creatures
- Right effort: the constant endeavor to train oneself in thought, word and action — toward the attainment of nirvana
- Right attention: keep the mind where it should be — always on one thing at a time, here and now; whatever is positive; whatever benefits others; what conduces to kindness or peace of mind
- Right meditation: the means of training the mind — vipassana meditation