Reflections on the benefits of following the Noble 8 Fold Path

Sometimes we practice and practice, and change can be difficult to see as it operates so incrementally over time. I was thinking it may be of use to take some time to reflect on the impact of practicing the Path in our lives. I suspect that there is a hidden treasure house of joy here for everyone :smiley: And - well - we can all do with a bit more joy in our lives :slight_smile:

Please share your reflections :pray:

To get the ball rolling I’ll share a few
Where I used to have remorse and regret about things, I no longer do. From 2002 I decided to take the Buddhas advice about Sila and have worked not to do anything that would bring about regret or remorse. At that time I sought out all the people where I felt that I had acted badly in the past and asked for forgiveness - I drew a line under my past conduct and let it go as resolved, and then focused wholly on present conduct. Of course sometimes one makes little slip-ups, but then being aware, one can ask for forgiveness and remedy it immediately, so no accumulation occurs. I can’t describe how much better my life is since this. Being free from any regret or remorse is to cut off a HUGE amount of suffering. Life is so much lighter when lived in this fashion.

This also has had a great impact on my relationships, and I feel safe and secure and happy where I live. Even though I live alone in an isolated place, I feel ‘protected’ by the community. I see this as a direct fruit of the practice of Sila to all beings. I feel so blessed to be able to live like this… the joy and the contentment are sometimes overwhelming, especially when I reflect on the difference between my ‘old life’ and now.

Having reaped these fruits already, just from the practice of Sila, I am so grateful to the Buddha for the teachings - and I take refuge in the triple gem with much gratitude.

In fact, in my own case it has changed my life so profoundly, that I am no longer plagued by depression, which was a constant feature in my life up until that point. :slight_smile:

I live a renunciate life now, and when looking back at the burdens I struggled under then - it is like ‘then’ was comparable to Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the hill for eternity, to ‘now’ just throwing the boulder over the cliff and running free :smiley:

I look forward to hearing any reflections you choose to share :slight_smile: :pray: :sunflower:

With much Metta

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Thank you for this inspirational sharing, Viveka.

The biggest reduction in my suffering has come from putting my focus on intention, and making peace with the fact that I can’t control the result. When ill will arises I can usually reduce it by reflecting on my own good intentions as well as other people’s, because most people mean well.

Most of us do our best but in an imperfect or clumsy way, this has made me much kinder to myself and others. Relying on intentions, letting go of results while learning from them for the future makes a big difference in my life.

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Thank you for your inspirational sharing too, Ehipassiko :slightly_smiling_face::pray:t2::pray:t2:

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Great topic!! Thank you.

Whoa! Powerful visual, thank you for that.

Well, I suppose one benefit that stands out is having a reliable source of joy available to me. I don’t always have the momentum to use it fully, but I’m endlessly grateful that it’s there.

Things like reflecting on my own good conduct, among many other things. Over time, I’ve accumulated so many memories and keepsakes from times I’ve had the privilege of being able to help. For example, I have a screenshot on my phone from a livestream where Ajahn Brahmali drinks the coffee I made for him. A little silly perhaps, but I enjoy having a stock of little memories like this to reflect on. It’s like a bank of joy that keeps expanding. I would never have had that without deciding to follow this path. Not to this degree, anyway.

This is relatable, and I’m guessing it’s something that also grows with practice. And it’s not just where I’ve been and where I’m at now. But how my life could have gone, and how it could go now.

Some time ago, I was doing walking meditation. And through the window, I saw this man further down the street. He went behind a bush, chugged a bottle of strong beer and continued on his way. I was struck by this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt a sense of empathy towards him. Substance abuse is such a heartbreaking problem because it stems from the desire to be happy, and leads to the exact opposite. And secondly, because the trajectory I was on before meeting the Dhamma could have easily led me to a similar fate. I would’ve been surprised if it didn’t. I could have ended up suffering through one of the worst miseries available in the human realm. And now I could end up seeing the Dhamma for myself in this lifetime.

Time will tell. But even when I catch myself playing Sisyphus for the millionth time, it’s amazing to know that it’s possible for it to end. Reflecting on this can be emotionally overwhelming. The gratitude can’t really be put into words.

I don’t even want to think of what could have been if the Buddha hadn’t put the wheel of Dhamma in motion. Ajahn Brahm could just be some guy called Peter making jokes at his local chippies. Ajahn Brahmali would probably be skiing somewhere in Norway, in his own words. I might be chugging beer in a bush somewhere. None of my amazing friends on the path would be anywhere near as happy as they are. So many beings would be stuck with rebirth for much-much longer.

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Right intention is the second link of the noble eightfold path and the beginning of it in practice (right view is the end). These two complete the wisdom component of the path cycle. Intentions lead to further development as described in Majhima Nikaya 19. Although seeming like just a lame mental statement, they in fact germinate to a process of path development. The Buddha-to-be began the path by exercising right intention.

“Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking & pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.”

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Thank you so much for sharing, @turntables. :anjal:

May this come to be! Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu! :anjal: :dharmawheel: :butterfly:

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Linking the noble truths to the path, my efforts emphasizes investigation of the truths while incorporating the path into my lifestyle and intentions. The latter supports more skillful practice while provides alleviation and patience with the suffering and disatisfaction that still remains.

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Thank you, @Viveka
Wonderful question. And your answer was inspiring.

For me, I spent much of my earlier life in Buddhism focused on meditation more than the 8-fold path. I had the luxury then to go on longer retreats, and I certainly had deeper meditative states. There is something powerful about, say, experiencing something as fundamental as your sense of your own body in space break up into component parts, mind-created rather than a simple observation of reality. At the time experiences like that felt life-altering, experiencing self as a construct, not a thing. That direct experience of no-self. But my life didn’t actually alter. Suffering didn’t reduce.

Now, since turning to Theravada, the 8-fold path is front and center in my practice. With a family and demanding job and volunteer activities, the possibility of long retreats isn’t an option right now. Daily meditation sessions are sometimes interrupted by a cat, dog, or son in need. But my focus is now on Sila as much as (or more than) meditation. I go through the day seeking to stay mindful not as an end in itself, but combined with Right Effort to avoid/get out of unskillful states, and to encourage/maintain skillful states. And this integrated practice of the 8-fold path has greatly reduced suffering.

I would say the 8-fold path, combined with Western Psychology approaches to dealing with childhood trauma, have made a profound difference in reducing my suffering and - I think -helping me cause less suffering in those in my life.

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Dear Jim, Thank you for sharing :pray: You give such a good example illustrating the necessity and effectiveness of an integrated approach to the N8fP.

So much Mudita for you! :heart_eyes: :anjal: :dharmawheel: :butterfly:

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