In the fourth of Buddha’s truths he explains the path we need to take to free ourselves from suffering. It is known as the Eightfold Path and it comprises of three aspects:

Seeing Clearly

  • Right View
  • Right Intention

Living Responsibly

  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood

Staying Focused

  • Right Effort
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

Over the next few postings I will cover all of these eight points.

Right View – setting off on the Eightfold Path without the right view is like starting a journey without a map. If you get into your car without knowing where your going and what landmarks you will encounter along the way, you are bound to get lost. Similarly, if you set off on this path and have no idea what you are doing, you will also become lost and disillusioned. First get the view correct, and the rest of the path will become clearer. You will be able to dispel any confusion or misunderstandings, and have a better understanding of reality.

We need to understand the Four Noble Truths and the workings of cause and effect. This is the right view.

When we understand the Four Noble Truths, we will also understand that the causes of our suffering lie within our own minds, we will then realise that nirvana, the escape from suffering, also lies within our minds. Once we know this we will want to look for the causes of this suffering, which are the three poisons; attachment, anger and unawareness. Finally, having understood that life is suffering, we will be ready to set off along the Eightfold path.

We should also ensure we have an understanding of cause and effect. Here some would say we actually need to understand the workings of karma, but this is such a hot potato these days.

If you believe in karma and rebirth, and it motivates you to be a good person, then follow that view. However, if you are not a lover of rebirth and prefer to keep your Buddhism firmly planted in this life, then you should understand cause and effect.

Whatever we do there will be a result. If we kill someone, we will be punished. If we lie and cheat people, we will be disliked. If we are unwilling to help people, they will not want to help us when we need it. If we are a kind, caring and compassionate person, people will be drawn to us. If we are generous, we will get back far more than we give – here I am not talking in monetary terms, but in the wonderful satisfaction of helping others.

Life is like an echo. Whatever you put out, comes back. Whatever you sow, you will reap. Whatever you give, you will get. Whatever we do will always come back to us. This is not some metaphysical dogma, just plain common-sense. It is the way life is.

So by understand cause and effect we will be driven to act in a kind and compassionate way. If you understand it and still decide to act in an unhelpful way, you will only have yourself to blame when things don’t go right for you.

Once you have the right view concerning suffering and cause and effect, you will be ready to move along the path. Next time I will talk about right intention.