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the eightfold path

buddhists of all stripes follow the eightfold path. rather than a set of rules. a path leads in a direction, and if you wander away from it you can always come back. the path consists of eight elements, and this is how we understand them:

right understanding

we're not isolated, independent selves, who need to manipulate and control ourselves, each other and the environment as if they were enemies. we are inseparable from nature, and we're constantly changing, growing and decaying. we suffer when we pretend otherwise, and so does everything and everyone around us

right intent

compassion. to reduce suffering for all beings. without this intent, 'good' actions don't work

right action

sitting on a cushion and feeling compassion is not enough, action is required. every action we take has far-reaching consequences, as we are all interdependent. our actions should not cause extra suffering or confusion

right speech

speech is also action, and has consequences. speak to cause no harm, to create no further confusion

right livelihood

how we earn our money matters. it should also cause as little harm as possible

right effort

not too little and not too much. we can't be complacent. being alive, now, in a human body, is a rare opportunity. and there is plenty of work to be done. without forcing, you should feel the stretch

right mindfulness

widening the scope of our attention, we stay aware of thoughts, emotions and sensations as they arise and fall away, without clinging to them, pushing them away or thinking that they are really 'me'

right concentration

focusing attention and settling it in one place, on breathing, a flame, a word, a mantra, or whatever we are doing right now. as the mind becomes truly calm and focused on one thing, it starts to resonate with the inseperability of everything. this brings us full circle to right understanding. understanding infused with power is the natural state

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