The Fourth Reality
“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of suffering: precisely this Noble Eightfold Path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.”
Nearly 3000 years ago the Buddha outlined his path to true happiness. You can imagine how this path has been diluted for centuries after his death, while he was not present to remove the dilution and concentrate back on his teachings. It’s been analyzed, made simpler, deconstructed. However, there was no reason to deconstruct this path, it already was put into perfect form by the Buddha and it’s as clear today as it was before. All that is needed is an application of it to the modern-day.
The Buddha has given us the steps to ending this cycle of suffering, craving, and unhappiness that we are dwelling in. He calls it the Noble Eightfold Path, simply because it contains eight parts.
The Eightfold Path can lead you to eternal happiness. Even more than the happiness that you’re familiar with, to bliss. His path will give you the power to naturally and automatically summon bliss at any time. There are thousands and thousands of ways, and teachers who will show you how to circumvent unhappiness. How to temporarily distract yourself or move around it. But these ways are impermanent. They are attacking the leaves and the branches of the tree. The ways provided through “self help” don’t remove the roots of unhappiness. Sooner or later it will grow back even stronger. The Buddha approaches the roots of unhappiness, and dissolves them through understanding. He digs into the dirt of the human psyche and helps you pull out the weeds that are preventing your roses from blooming.
The Fourth Reality is a continuation of the Third: There is an end to unhappiness, and it is achieved by following the Eightfold Path.
The Four Realities converge into the Eightfold Path:
There is unhappiness in this world and we must understand its effect on humanity.
The origin of suffering is craving, clinging, and desire.
There is an end to this unhappiness.
The Eightfold Path is the way to achieve happiness.
Understanding the Eightfold Path
Understand that the Eightfold Path is not a set of beliefs, laws or a code of conduct. He was not interested in controlled morality. The Buddha never spoke in such terms. The path is a guide to a personal experience that you must have in order to find meaning in your life. The eight parts are road signs that will guide you into a life of bliss.
The Buddha divides life into eight parts. These are the markers on your map. They are only meant to give you direction, not dictation. The Buddha is giving you his experience, for you to have your own personal experience with.
The Eightfold Path has been taught in many different ways. Ways that often fail to encompass the true meaning of the words. They bumble on with the philosophy behind the words and talk circles around each other, going so deep into the words that they’ve gone past the source. The Buddha’s words should not be dissected and followed directly. The spirit of his words are what must be followed.
Why is this? Because in 3000 years, the world has undergone change. Our society is dissimilar, we don’t live in the same way as the people of many centuries ago have lived. Your life now does not represent life in Buddha’s time, so you will benefit only to observe the spirit of his teachings, the core, not the minutia. This must be understood as you take your journey down the path.
It is also to be understood that the path described by the Buddha uses his words. It is the only way for him to communicate from himself to many others. However, it is difficult to describe a phenomenon that comes without words, without the mind. Using words, it is easy for a person to make their own judgements about what is meant. Each person has their own filter, attachments and meanings for each word. It is all too easy for a miscommunication to happen between the Buddha’s inner world and your inner world when words are used to communicate. Just remember this for now. As we enter the path, the Buddha will show you how to listen in a way that will help you to understand without false preconception.
The path is divided into eight parts. The Buddha only did this for your sake, to facilitate your understanding. However, the way is one, a culmination of the parts. If you understand each part, practice them and cultivate them, the path will open up in front of you. You will come to realize you’ve been standing on the path for your entire lifetime, it’s only that your mind has been wandering too frantically for you to see.
The Modern Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path is meant to restore your internal world. To take away the habits that have accumulated in the mind and have clouded your vision of truth and happiness. The parts of the path are translated into the English language as right view, right intention, right livelihood, right morality, right speech, right mindfulness, right effort, and right samadhi.
However the Buddha did not say “right”, he said samyak. This has been poorly translated to the word right. Samyak means balanced, centered, harmonious, in line with what will bring peace. Not “right” in the sense of morality, having to do with right or wrong. Right is meant to be your natural state, before all that you learned brought you out of it. This is first what needs understanding.
What also needs to be understood is the time in which the Buddha spoke these words. In this primitive time, the line between morality and survival was hard to define. Stealing, looting, and violence may have been the only means for survival. Political correctness was not a concern. It was not a topic taught in work seminars and classrooms. People were not raised with politeness and berated for persecution. Fame and popularity were not the latent desires within each and every person. Materialistic desires were not dangling like a carrot on a string, in front of everyone’s eyes, constantly luring them towards something new. There was not an expectation of high achievements, well beyond survival for each and every individual. Constant chatter and gossip through waves of the internet between people from all over the world were not ever to be expected.
For these reasons, his teachings are even more necessary. However, for these same reasons, his teachings must be reformed to fit the life of a modern person. Without this reformation, these steps will fall flat. They will fall on deaf ears. You will not be able to find the lock where these keys will fit into your life. The doors of understanding will remain closed.
For this reason, these steps have now been reformed. Although the essence of the lessons remains the same. Because at the core we are all still human. We are as human now as we were at the time of his teachings, hundreds of years B.C. Now are explained the same essential lessons, however, with practical implications for the modern man, and woman.