By Rohan (participant in Youth Retreat held at Vedanta Society of Providence, July 25-27, 2014)
1. “Noble” comes from Arya Satyam, meaning “deliberate, elevated, wisdom, and finesse.” The definition of Noble is fitting for the title “Noble Eightfold Path.” It clarifies that life should be lived on the Path deliberately, consciously, and with thought into each action. Successfully staying on the path is only achieved by being present in the moment of thoughts and actions. It is by way of overcoming the instinctive or animalistic life: one that is stimulated only by external forces, and is reactive.
It is difficult, not impossible.
2. The Four Truths are:
a. There is suffering.
b. There is a cause.
c. There is a state of infinite peace, and it can be achieved by removed by removing the cause of suffering.
d. This can be achieved through life on the Eightfold Path.
The Four Noble Truths are important because they acknowledge that there is a problem, that there is a cause to the problem, there is a way to remove the cause, and that the problem is actually alleviated after removing the cause.
3. Dharmachakra – a wheel with 8 spokes is used to represent the Eightfold path. This is a fitting image for the path as each of the 8 spokes of the wheel is dependent on the others, that if one break, the whole wheel is out of alignment. They support a wheel, an object representing inertia and movement along the path. Together, with all of the spokes working correctly, the wheel can move along the path.
4. Right intention is intangible, and is often relative. Over time, with trials and failures, our experience develops into wisdom, which adjusts the view. Changes and refinement of the view adjusts the intention. This process is similar to the scientific method, outlined below, that emphasizes the importance of experience and failure in order to develop wisdom.
5. Meditation in every moment is Right Mindfulness.In order to live a deliberate, noble life, it is important to strive for mindfulness in every moment, and being present in the moment. It reminds me of the book we read once for summer camp in Marshfield called Present Moment, Wonderful Moment, by Thich Nhat Hanh.
6. Tathagata – “Thus he comes, thus he goes” – a great description of Buddha as he would come and go through realities and Samadhi at his own volition.
7. While Right View, Intention, and Speech are for mental purity, Right Action, Livelihood, and Effort are of physical purity, and ethical conduct. The three broad categories of actions that should not be undertaken are taking or harming life, stealing, and illicit sex.
When actions are right, they are performed with intention and control. When they are not right, the ego splits. A moral doubt occurs, a second ego develops. The second “I” causes major conflicts and inner tensions. The separate I splits according to one’s own conscious.
8. The scientific method is an important tool on the spiritual journey. It is a method that calls for experimentation. It invites the possibility of failure when trying new experiments. New methods based on your own experiences and observations are developed and honed to get a better understanding of the truth. Tools have been provided through the various teachings of past gurus. These tools can be tested in one’s own practice or modified to get the best results for you.