Let's talk about that cure some now. The Eightfold Path. There is right action, right livelihood, right speech, right effort, right view, right concentration, right mindfulness, and right intention. These are split into three categories.
The first and most basic of these are the moral truths. The ones related to ethical conduct. They are right action, right livelihood, and right speech.
These can be easily explained by our moral guidelines that all Buddhists undertake. The Pancasila or Five Precepts. They are as follows:
- Abstain from the physical harm and killing of sentient beings (this includes non-humans like dogs and ants).
- Abstain from the usage of hurtful or deceitful language. Abstain from lying and mindless small talk. Speak with purpose, truth, kindness, and reason.
- Abstain from taking that which is not given. Abstain from stealing.
- Abstain from sexual misconduct (there are many definitions of this term but rape and cheating are by and large always part of them).
- Abstain from the drinking of alcohol and from the usage of other mind altering drugs.
Let's look into right speech first...We have the very definition of it in the Pancasila. Don't lie, don't say hurtful things. If you must say something harsh that is truth to help say it in a way that minimizes the suffering of the person and gets the point across most effectively. Also avoid pointless small talk.
Right action we can see in the rest of the Pancasila. Don't kill things, don't hurt things, don't get smashed, don't be a druggy, don't rape people and so on.
Right livelihood refers to one's occupation. Look back at right action. You're not supposed to kill things right? As such one should try to avoid life as a butcher or a soldier. That can't always be, but it's the optimal way to go about life according to Buddhism. Don't be a taker of lives, a seller of sex, a seller of death, a seller of lives, a seller of drink and other drugs, a maker of drugs and drink and so on.
That's morality according to Buddhism. Our ethics are not cold hard fast rules however. Please note that. They are situational. There are times when killing is permitted for example. Like say there's some crazy bastard trying to kill you and your family. Though it's preferred that this person not die they're dying may be necessary to spare your lives.
The Pancasila and the other precepts (there are sets of 8 and 10 as well, I'll get to them later) are guidelines. The monks follow the Vinaya which are vows that they aren't supposed to break under threat of punishment. Though even for them it depends on the circumstances. This ties heavily in with karma/kamma and we'll get to that and the rest of the metaphysics later.
For now back to The Path. We did the moral steps. Now it's time for Wisdom. The wisdom steps consist of right view and right intention.
Right view relates to seeing reality just as it is. To see the truth of things by a Buddhist view point. To be aware that you will die, that all things must die, that there is no eternal life, that there is ugliness in beauty and beauty in ugliness, that there is loathsomeness in what is not loathsome and a things that are not loathsome in loathsomeness.
Right view is to never be deluded by dichotomies, fallacies, lies, and falsehoods.
Right intention refers to your...well...intention. The intention behind your actions makes those actions. You don't act without an intention. Your intention must be in line with The Dharma/Dhamma to be right intention. If you kill a living being it is to be for a right reason. Such as needing to feed yourself. You eat for the right reason which is only to sustain your body and health. Not for personal enjoyment. You say things for the right reasons. To spread truth and help. You walk for the right reasons. And so on.
This leaves us with our last category which is, funnily enough, the one thing people tend to focus on or know anything about when it comes to Buddhism. The mental discipline. This is what Buddhism is famous for. Meditation and mental discipline.
Right concentration, right mindfulness, and right effort fall into this.
Right concentration refers to your ability to focus on things. Is your mind scattered and hard to focus or can you bring it to a topic that needs attention with ease? Can you take your mind from thoughts such as "I hate myself. I want to die. I deserve to die,"? Or do you linger on them and ignore your work? Right concentration deals with this and it is built largely by meditation. It is to be applied to every last bit of your life. It is a twofold issue. Can you concentrate and can you concentrate on what is right? What is needed?
That is right concentration.
Right mindfulness refers to your awareness of the world around you. Is the world a haze that you ignore? Do you purposefully try to keep the world and all its ugliness out? Or do you look upon it with open eyes and see it? Do you seek to know and understand it? Mindfulness is awareness to all that happens. It is avoiding tunnel vision or willful blinding of yourself to the truth of things around you. This doesn't mean that you have to focus nonstop on say your neighbor's annoying ass music, but it also means that you shouldn't be ignoring what your dog is doing while your cooking. Be aware of your surroundings or bad things things might happen.
This also refers to feelings. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings. Don't try to ignore it and pass it out of mind. You face your fears and pains head on. You seek to understand them and cure them.
Now...right effort. This refers to how much effort you put into things obviously. Do you put effort into the things you do or are you lazy and neglectful? Also do you put effort into things that are useful and skillful or you fritter all your time away on meaningless pursuits that help no one? Those are the questions that right effort forces us to ask ourselves.
So basically...Don't be lazy and apathetic. Put effort into the things you do and be sure to put that effort into good pursuits. Don't be the most effortful drug dealer for example. Be the most effortful therapist instead or something.
And that there is The Eightfold Path. The cure. There are two additional steps that make it The Tenfold Path of Complete Awakening. These other two steps are right knowledge; the knowledge that you are Enlightened and that you will be leaving the world, and right liberation; the freedom from all desire, ignorance, and attachment while you still live.