The Beginner's Guide to Walking the Buddha's Eightfold Path
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“Writing a ‘nuts and bolts’ guide that is genuinely wise, charmingly conversational, and a pleasure to read requires a particular talent, and Jean Smith has proved once again that she has it.”—Sylvia Boorstein, author of Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There
The third of Jean Smith’s Beginner’s Guides focuses on the Buddha’s Eightfold Path—the concepts central to practicing the Buddha’s teachings in daily life. The eight steps on the path are: right understanding, thought, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration. Smith explains exactly what the Buddha had in mind, using translations of his own words and then elucidating them for us. Throughout the book are wonderful quotes from a broad range of Buddhist teachers, giving a taste of the very best each of them has to offer. The Beginner’s Guide to Walking the Buddha’s Eightfold Path is a prescription for happiness, not just for overcoming suffering, which is how many people think of Buddhism. Here is a book for Buddhists of every tradition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
practical, and some are listed in “Works Cited and Suggested Readings,” beginning on page 215. Because this book is devoted to how we can apply these teachings to everyday life, we shall mention, but not discuss in detail, several important topics: enlightenment, nirvana, and rebirth. But let us briefly address them here as background. Enlightenment is our awakening to the true nature of reality, including our own, thus freeing ourselves of delusion and of the sense of a separate self. For the
the meaning of human life among the greatest teachers of northern India as an ascetic who sometimes, it is said, ate only one grain of rice a day. His quest and his subsequent teachings were rooted in their yogic traditions, in which individuals renounced life as householders in order to seek spiritual truth. After six years he realized that he could no more find spiritual answers by living a life of stark deprivation than through princely self-indulgence, and he embraced what has come to be
animals? Kate Wheeler, in an article in Tricycle magazine, provocatively raised this question: Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian; the Dalai Lama, the embodiment of compassion, eats meat by his doctors’ orders. Clearly, there’s more to mind than what is put into the mouth: yet, as long as food remains a fundamental part of life, these choices are a proper focus of spiritual awareness. Every bite of macaroni contains choices about culture, history, meaning—even the “Nutrition Facts” newly listed on
understand how institutionalized harm arises and is perpetuated. Whenever we take power (or water or energy or clean air), we take it away from someone—we steal what is not freely given and we create suffering. We need to frequently ask ourselves: How much is enough? We take power to feed our sense of Self and Other—and all too often we reinforce that duality by what we buy. What We Buy When you ask most people the very general question “What do you buy?” they usually give you the equally
whispering. “What are you doing, dear?” she asked. “Telling God my secrets,” I answered. Today I cannot even imagine what a three-year-old thinks secrets are, much less what God is. But somehow I suspect that I knew some things then that I did not know when I graduated from college: I knew how to take delight in what was around me—to wonder at stars, to laugh at robins, to play with mud, and to talk into flowers. As a young adult, I still enjoyed the natural beauty of my surroundings, the