A Buddhist Life of Study, Meditation, and Compassionate Service
Sunita Maithreya – India
A truly Buddhist life is an expression of the “Buddhi” and includes mindfulness, true knowledge, meditation, service, and compassion to all life.
When asked to explain the Path in simple words, the Buddha said, “Abstain from all unwholesome deeds perform wholesome ones, purify your mind.” Further, when asked what is “wholesome” and what is “unwholesome,” the Buddha offered a universal definition: Any action that harms others, that disturbs their peace and harmony, is a sinful action; an unwholesome action. Any action that helps others, that contributes to their peace and harmony, is a pious action; a wholesome action.
The Buddha also taught us the Four Noble Truths:
First Truth -- In every person’s life misery is greater than happiness
Second Truth -- All misery arises from the hunger and thirst for life
Third Truth -- Each person, without help of priest or scripture, can by their own efforts put an end to the “craving” which causes misery
Fourth Truth -- The Way or the Noble Eightfold Path: Right Belief, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Energy, Right Contemplation, and Right Realization, leads to the ending of misery
In his book, The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation As Taught by Shri S.N.Goenka, William Hart says, “The Noble Eightfold Path can be divided into three stages of training, sila, samadhi and panna. Sila is moral practice, abstention from all unwholesome actions of body and speech. Samadhi is the practice of concentration, developing the ability to consciously direct and control one’s own mental processes. Panna is wisdom, the development of purifying insight into one’s own nature.”
Returning to sila, we learn that three parts of the Noble Eightfold Path fall within the training of sila. These are Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Means of Livelihood.
Hart says that Right Speech would imply abstinence from telling lies, carrying tales that see friends at odds, backbiting and slander, speaking harsh words that disturb others and have no beneficial effect, and idle gossip, meaningless chatter that wastes one’s own time and the time of others. The Buddha extolled the virtues of Right Speech.
Right Action is summarized by the pansil of Buddhism. The Buddha is said to have spoken thus: “Laying aside the rod and sword he is careful to harm none, full of kindness, seeking the good of all living creatures. Free of stealth, he himself lives like a pure being.” The pansil may seem like a religious precept alone to some, but some of the practical aspects we are asked to abstain from are killing, theft, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxicants.
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