Ethics in Noble Truth and Eightfold Path Essay
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In this paper I will be discussing the concept of the four noble truths and eightfold path within the Buddhist religion. The four noble truths do not give concrete answers to metaphysical questions, unlike other religions. Buddhism teaches human existence is imperfect and the four noble truths are a guide to help steer away from suffering. The four noble truths are important to Buddhist ethics in that they are the way to nirvana and enlightenment. The first noble truth is life is suffering.
To live means to suffer and since it is human nature, no one is perfect in any shape or form.
While we develop, we inevitably have to endure physical and psychological suffering sooner or later. Each of us, no matter how rich or poor, is going to get sick, grow old, and die. Nothing is permanent, nothing can permanently satisfy us. “ Any aspect of life, no matter how seemingly pleasant, already has the seeds of the suffering that is a common denominator of all human experience” (Young) This is because things change and pass away; everything and everyone we love will someday pass away.
The Buddha also taught the reason behind the suffering that individuals experience.
The second noble truth is suffering is caused by craving. “We suffer because our craving leads us to become attached to things or people and deluded as to the real nature of our situation in life (Young). ” As long as we are unable to detach of moral pleasures, we will experience suffering. One must learn to overcome these greed, aversion, hatred, jealousy, etc. These conditions are always in hand with society, family, and within one’s self. Recognizing and understanding the second noble truth gives way to the freedom from suffering.
The third noble truth is cessation of suffering. It is the complete fading-away and extinction of this craving, its forsaking and abandonment, liberation from it, detachment from it”(welsh). This may be the most significant of all the noble truths, as it reassures us that true happiness is possible. When individuals give up useless cravings and learn to live each day to the fullest, enjoying what each day brings with no expectations, they are able to live a free life. Nirvana arises when an individual becomes free of all sufferings, and eliminates cravings. When an individual is able to attain nirvana, they are able to move on to the next noble truth.
The forth noble truth is the means to liberation. This noble truth teaches how to remove all suffering from your life, and explains the various levels of achieving such. So, first of all, in order to gain the good qualities, we need to work on creating all the different conditions that will make those qualities emerge. To develop the various insights of meditation and real wisdom, we need to develop great faith and confidence in the validity and usefulness of that wisdom. Buddhist needs to change their habits so that they have the ability to do all the necessities to make insight and wisdom emerge.
Therefore, there are many factors and conditions we must generate within our life that will bring about our happiness. The guide to peace and the end suffering is the eightfold path. The eightfold path is a guideline to ethical teachings and growth of an individual. The goal is to free believers from attachments and ultimately leads to understanding. “ “Everyone should attempt to live by the eightfold path, and (theoretically) enlightenment is open to anyone, regardless of caste, gender, or whether lay or ordained. ” Young.
The Eightfold Path consists of three components: wisdom (prajna ): (1) right views and (2) right intention; morality (sila ): (3) right speech, (4) right conduct, and(5) right livelihood; and concentration (samadhi ): (6) right effort, (7) right mindfulness, and (8) right concentration. (Deal). The eightfold path is the way to avoid self-denial and self-indulgence considered the middle way. The first step in the eightfold path is the right view, which falls under the category of wisdom. The right view means understanding the four noble truths and grasping the nature of objects and ideas.
Right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. The second step, which also falls under the component of wisdom, is correct intention. This refers to abandoning one’s own thoughts and desires. This is the step of the eightfold path that one must give up selfish attitudes that lead to more suffering and replace them with the opposite.
“The point is not to nattached from oneself to a particular person but with a caring attitude, but to practice a “universal goodwill” young” The third step is correct speech. This means to tell the truth, to speak friendly and to talk only when necessary. ”Man’s speech must be the truth, his conversation must be edifying and he must not engage in scandal gossip. One should take control with one’s word not only for the sake of truth but to demonstrate control and discipline. ” Right speech can be seen as an ethical conduct in Buddhism.
The forth step in the eightfold path is that of correct conduct. Young mentions that unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. “ Not taking life, not stealing and not having sexual intercourse” (Van Voorst). It is important in Buddhism to concentrate on actions that will help the well beings of others. The fifth step is the right means to livelihood. This path represents earning an honest living. An occupation that is against the other steps of the eightfold path is in return against right livelihood.
One should acquire only by legal means, not by illegally; one should acquire it peacefully, without coercion or violence; one should acquire it honestly, not by trickery or deceit; and one should acquire it in ways which do not entail harm and suffering. ” (Bodhi) Selling of weapons would be an example of wrong in this religion as the consequences of weapons can cause harm to others. The sixth step in the eightfold path is right endeavor. This step is very important, as it is a necessity to put a conscious effort in what we do.
Without right effort less would be able to get achieved. “ Avoiding any sort of unwholesome action that will have a negative karmic influence, and pursuing beneficial deeds. ”(Young) being aware of your own mind and not to have a mind that is diluted. This brings us to our next step, the seventh step, which is right mindfulness. This step in the eightfold path refers to the ability to see things without any delusions. “ Right mindfulness refers to the deep, ultimately non-dual, understanding of the body, feelings, mind, and experienced things”(Koller. In the step being consciously aware of all that is that is going on with ones mind and body.
Van Voorst states, “ To remain focused on the body in and of itself- he is fervent, aware and mindful- putting away the greed and distress of the world. This step helps to actively observe and control our thoughts. The eighth step in the eightfold path is correct meditation. Once at the stage nirvana is at hand and, in a flash of intuition that state of final bliss dawns” (Young) This step leads to developing a deep insight into reality and the ability to be able to apply levels of concentration regularly.
We see by the study of the noble truths and the eightfold path that Buddhist put great emphasis on the practices that they follow in order to reach nirvana. The noble truths and the eightfold path are essentially the ethics of the religion. The foundation of the path is moral virtue. Buddhist ethics is concerned with the practices that contribute to a believer to act in ways that help rather then harm. By following the noble truths and the eightfold path Buddhist are able to reach the goal of nirvana and non-attachment.