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Patanjali Sokaris

Pondering the universe

The 8-fold path

A real-time perspective

Most explanations of Guatama Buddha's 8-fold path deal with it as a subject of deep contemplation, outside of the pressures of daily life. However, it is most powerful when used in the present moment.

Contemplation is a process of examining a topic by taking time out from being conscious of the pressures of the present, and going into a state of mind that allows free interplay of conscious and subconscious mind, allowing associations to come into the conscious mind for examination.

Conversely, being in real-time requires focussing your consciousness on the acute needs of the present. That doesn't mean that there is no input from the subconscious, but it is treated as just another input into the present consciousness.

The important aspect of being in the present, is that is is the only time you can actually make a decision, which is why the present, despite being infinitessimally small, is so potent.

So, from a present-time perspective, being able to harness understanding of the 8-fold path can allow you to make the decisions that, over time, will build a habit of thought that is always mindfull of where your head is at, so you are not caught out failing to live up to what you expect of yourself.

Contemplation is still a most valuable activity, as it gives you space to set yourself up to approach foreseeable challenges before they occur, giving you the best chance to be able to control how they unfold. Use contemplation to examine how you might do better in future.

Even for unforeseen challenges, comtemplation sets your mind-subconscious into a better balance to be able to handle them, as the practiced interconnection is better able to be harnessed in real-time. Rather like how training prepares you for the real deal.

Several alternate explanations are listed in Related sites below, and while each explanation may place the eight paths in a particular order, they are all aspects of your one consciousness, so they exist in parallel, and thus you can freely focus on any one of them at any time. As you build up your understanding of them, they all play a part in guiding your consciousness.

Right belief, values, idealism ^

Beliefs and values are the reference points from which we reason and make judgements. Unless based on truth, they will create problems when what we try to do is at odds with them. Only truth has the consistency to deal with the real world.

Especially let go of doubts about yourself. If you have let yourself down in the past, the only way to believe in yourself again is to successfully complete what you set out to do. The more success, the better.

Don't be afraid to fail, but make sure you spend some time contemplating such outcomes, so that you do not repeat them. Failures are part of your growth, as long as you learn from them. It is an iterative process, so be patient with yourself as well.

If you are letting your sense of failure repeatedly get the better of you, get professional help to aquire the skills to counter the undermining thoughts and feelings.

Right effort ^

It takes energy to undertake any activity, and being able to marshall the enthusiasm to persevere is the way to have enough focus to undertaking any effort. Be clear, focused and directed in your efforts.

Effort is highly dependent upon the emotion of enthusiasm. Not the blind manic charging that some might indulge in, but the sustained drive that is focussed on in each moment to bring about the desired good result. Without it, it is like trying to run without knees!

Meditation ^

Where your head is at defines a lot about what you can really focus on at the time. Centre yourself in the present, with what resources -- mental, emotional and physical -- you need to follow through on your current task.

Being centred in the moment is helped by practicing mindfulness, contemplation and meditation. No-one is perfect, but the practice makes being in the moment when required much more achievable.

Mindfulness is simply about being aware of what you are thinking or doing, and perhaps what is driving you to be doing those. It is a contemplation of the present, but in a safe space.

Right action, conduct ^

By actions we make our mark on the world. What do you want to be the legacy of your life? How do you want to make the world a better place? Make it happen!

Once we have acted, we have to live with the consequences. We have created the karma that will define some aspect of what happens to us in the future.

There is action that is known as akarma - action without result. It is a misnomer, as being inperfect, we will always have results. However, it is about doing actions with a balanced mind and perspective -- the middle path -- where we are neither overly attracted or repulsed by what we might imagine the outcome to be.

Akarma requires what is called dispassion, which, while it sounds like we should be almost bored with what we are doing, it is really about our attachment to the outcome, rather than the process of doing, which should always have a good measure of enthusiasm.

We cannot always be sure of the outcome, but we do have control over what we do, so the ideas of dispassion and enthusiasm really reflect those different parts of any activity, and how we approach them for best balance of our efforts and expectations.

Right thought ^

Thoughts are the seeds around which we wrap a lot of emotions. Focus on thoughts that atttract the feelings and enthusiasm that you want to have.

Make your thoughts as clear and balanced as you can, as then your emotions have a clear place to be anchored to, and so you will be in a much better state of mind to decide what emotions you want to have at work in a situation.

Beware of giving into negative emotions, as then you will find thoughts that strengthen them, corrupting those that otherwise may have spurned you on to positive action. Half-baked thoughts feeding into unbridled emotions are the recipe for performing regrettable actions.

You can choose what to feel, but you have to direct them with your thoughts.

Right speech ^

Speech can wound in emotional ways that can dibilitate. It not only affects those towards whom we have directed it, including ourselves, but, as we become sensitive to the effects we have created, it wounds us. Use speech to inspire ourselves and others, lifting us to be and do better.

A list of questions to ask yourself before speaking are known as the Four gates of Patanjali, a Hindu sage from about 2000 years ago.

The 4 gates of speech are:

  1. 1.Is it true?
  2. 2.Is it necessary?
  3. 3.Is it kind?
  4. 4.Is it the right time?

Obviously, if more people followed this line of questions, we would have a lot less troubles between people.

Many see that what they say would fail these gates, so get the sense that they must need to shut up most of the time. However, while failing a gate basically means shutting up, if what you want to say passes all four gates, you MUST say it, as it is needed right then.

However, not passing does not mean that something should not be said. After all, something triggered a reaction and that thing might still need attention.

So, rather than use the gates to stiffle speaking per se, treat it as an real-time opportunity to find a better way or approach to say what may really be needed at the time. It is a way to stop using reactionary speech, and use proactive beneficial speech instead.

Right livelihood, mode of living ^

We need to be living our lives in a way that promotes our's and other's well being, and not just so we don't feel disappointed with what we have done. Be engaged in activities that make you feel that you have freely given the best of yourself to doing the best that you can.

You have to comtemplate what occupation or career you feel is best for you, but equally important is how you go about the minutae of your day. The headspace through which you are doing your tasks defines how well the tasks achieve their goals, and thus how you and others feel about yourself and the work in general.

Use comtemplation to define how you want to view and feel about work, and what would be best for you and your personality traits. That will make it easier for you to pull your attitudes back into line when faced with the troubles that working life can bring up.

Living doesn't just happen at work, so how you approach family and friendships is subject to exactly the same needs regarding your attitudes and approach. Be real and geniune in all relationships, and don't be afraid to assert your needs, or help others to assert theirs, even if those seem to require sacrifice of some of your desires.

There is a balance in how you manage all your life's activities, and contemplation and respectful discussions with those involved will help that. You will be happier by choosing the right balance.

Sometimes, right livelihood might mean to you that you not be involved in some industries like gambling or liquour, even if you feel like dabbling in them. This might seem like a contradiction, or even hippocracy, but there is a difference between being an occasional user, and being involved in the supply and promotion of it.

It doesn't mean that other people must not, but that it is better for you if you don't. It is a personal choice for you that doesn't need to be made by others, and just because others do, doesn't mean it is OK for you to. You have to make you own choice.

A good starting point is to think whether how you make your living or live your life adds real value to yours and others' lives. Are you relying upon people being addicted, mentally or physically? Does what you do tend to get people to use up excessive amounts of time or money that they could mostly put to better use improving their lives?

Right memory, understanding, discrimination ^

If we cannot look back at our past with correct and clear memory or understanding of it, we are most likely to repeat past mistakes, or make worse ones. Memory has to be based on truth to make the best decisions, as the uncluttered truth cannot feed garbage into our reasoning processes.

We may regret a lot of what we have done, or be disappointed by what others have done. In the end, they occurred and thus are past, and unalterable. What we have to decide is how much they influence what we do now about making our future a better one.

You have to learn to come to some understanding of how the past needs to be seen in light of the needs of your present and future. The past led to now, but you can change the future by what you decide now. Decide how much of the past still needs to be accommodated, and act accordingly.

Focus in the present ^

This section lists some simple questions that can help you to become mindful of what you are doing in the moment, and so enable you to quickly decide what you want to be focussing on instead.

Questions to help bring you to the best focus in the present are:

1BeliefHow do I want to view this situation/person?
2EffortTo what and how can I best direct my efforts?
3MeditationWhere do I want my head at?
4ActionWhat activity would I best be doing?
5ThoughtWhat can I best be thinking about?
6SpeechWhat is the best I could be saying?
7LivelihoodWhat can I be doing that is worthy?
8MemoryAm I understanding/seeing the past correctly?

The important thing is to shift your focus to the acute present as quickly as possible, and not drift into internal discussions. Those can be done when you have time to relax. You need to be able to marshall your resources now, to achieve the maximum benefit.

TS: art-a 3ID: 2017-02-21-10-00-00Now: 2020-12-04-23-51-07Powered by: Smallsite Design©Patanjali SokarisManage