By Ankur Chiplunkar (participant in Youth Retreat held at Vedanta Society of Providence, July 25-27, 2014)
This retreat has been a great success for me. The topic of Buddha’s Noble Eight Fold path was very appealing, leading to enriching discussions and wisdom. The best part I liked about this approach is that it is very practical! Difficult, but not impossible. The beauty of the approach is that you can apply it to your day to day activities, making you very efficient and productive at your daily tasks. At the same time, this approach can be applied to the bigger picture of attaining liberation and help you organize and execute your spiritual progress plan.
I loved the symbolism of a wheel with 8 spokes used to describe the Eight Fold path principles. Each spoke in the wheel represents one principle from the noble path. You need all the spokes in the wheel for it to rotate and move in one direction. The best part about the analogy is that after 1 full rotation, you come back to the first spoke again. This essentially means that as you progress in your spiritual path you need to keep on refining your new actions, efforts, view, etc. This is very similar to the water treatment plant example, which Swamiji explained, where the filter keeps on getting finer and finer as the purity of water increases.
Apart from the Eight Fold path I learned another key message during the retreat, which is that the older scripts need to be understood in the context and time when they were written. All the statements made then might be applicable in today’s situation, which is quite different in the micro-sense. In the macro-sense, misery, death, delusion and suffering still exist and will continue to exist. This lesson is very important, since most of today’s miseries in terms of religious practices comes from misinterpretation of the holy scripts!