the noble eightfold path of buddhism

Buddhism suggests an eightfold path which can be followed when trying to avoid and reduce suffering. It is:

Right View
Right Thinking
Right Mindfulness
Right Speech
Right Action
Right Diligence
Right Concentration
Right Livelihood

I am not convinced that suffering should be given such a pride of place in a religious system. It’s too depressing. However, the buddhist eightfold path can easily be extracted from this metaphysical foundation and used as a tool, as a system that does not necessarily aim to solely reduce suffering but also to advance whatever other goods you might have set before yourself in life.

Of course, we can and should still try to use the eightfold path to reduce suffering, but we should always remain open to the very likely possibility that “suffering” might not be the best way of understanding the world. And as we progress, we will understand with what suffering must be replaced or supplemented by in our worldview. When religions stultify doctrinally they become much less useful. But actively keeping them flexible can turn them into powerful tools for good and well-being.

Religion is useful; we just need to learn how to use it.


2 Comments to “the noble eightfold path of buddhism”

  1. Buddhists make horrible postmoderns – they think there are all sorts of rights and wrongs!

    Seriously, isn’t one of the tenets of Buddhism that desire is bad and should be eliminated? But isn’t wanting to eliminate suffering a desire in itself? I don’t know that much about Buddhism, so perhaps I’ve misunderstood its premise.

  2. Please pursue understanding of the standard English inadequate translation of Dukkha. Google and Wikipedia are very easy to use.

    Desire in and of itself is neither bad nor good. The point is that we attach values to it and mistake the values for the thought. Yes, follow desires that lead to greater compassion.

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