All journeys begin with a single step.
Like all actions you take, your first, singular step begins in the mind.
You may know you want to make a wholesome change to improve your life but how and where do you begin the journey?
Begin with the understanding that you are already whole and not 'broken'. You don't need fixing nor do you need guilt, shame or condemnation to get you on the right path. This may be hard for one to reconcile with after all you've been told or heard at first but it will be realized in time.
So where to begin?
Below are the foundations of Buddhist beliefs: The Five Precepts, The Four Noble Truths, and The Noble Eightfold Path.
It is through these vehicles that we may begin to shed our unskillful, and often unwholesome, ways in favor of a more harmonious and balanced life.
As you read through each statement question each one. Ask yourself how and why this is relevant to your wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.
As Buddhists and mindfulness practitioners, we follow the Five Precepts, The Four Noble Truths, and The Noble Eightfold Path which are listed below:
After Siddhartha Gautama's enlightenment to become a Buddha his very first sermon, in Deer Park near Baranasi Forest, was The Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths are the foundation of Buddhism.
The First Noble Truth
There is suffering in the world (dukkha).
In English 'suffering' means pain, distress or hardship, but the more nuanced meaning of dukkha more closely aligns with dissatisfaction, incapable of satisfying, or not able to bear or withstand anything. One may also describe dukkha as temporary or impermanent.
The Second Noble Truth
The cause of suffering is attachment (samudaya).
We may also consider attachment as greed and desire. We are always looking for the 'next best thing' and never satisfied with what we already have. This greed or desire grows from the ignorance of self.
The Third Noble Truth
There is a way for the cessation of suffering (nirhoda).
This Noble Truth is hopeful and let's us know that there is a cure to our suffering. That there is a way to let go of greed, desire, which often results in very harmful behaviors.
The Fourth Noble Truth
The way to the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path: The Middle Way (magga).
Like a physician giving a prescription the Buddha gives us the path on which to walk so that we may end our suffering and achieve liberation from suffering.
Expanding on the Fourth Noble Truth Buddha presents the Noble Eightfold Path, or the Middle Way. Although eight separate qualities, one does not need to work on Right Understanding first before advancing to Right Thought. In fact, it would be almost impossible to do so. Instead we develop each one almost simultaneously. For example, one may not conduct Right Speech without considering Right Mindfulness, Right Understanding or Right Thought.
When we examine more closely we may also see that these eight qualities are ascribed to wisdom, purity, and mindfulness.
1. Right Understanding }
2. Right Thought } Wisdom
3. Right Speech }
4. Right Action } Purity
5. Right Livelihood }
6. Right Effort }
7. Right Mindfulness } Mindfulness
8. Right Concentration }
Everyone's journey is different, mine, yours, your neighbors, even your pets.
Your next step is up to you and we may only show you the direction and offer guidance along your journey. And although It's up to you to put one foot in front of the other, you have the support, the jewel of the community, the sangha, to support you with each nurturing step you take.
We warmly invite you to sit and learn from any of our teachings and to ask us any questions that may arise.
You are warmly invited to receive our free monthly newsletter. It's a wonderful way to stay connected to our upcoming events, enhance your mindfulness, practice and to receive occasional updates.