The Noble Eightfold Path

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Tonight we are going to present about the Eightfold Path. So as we go along, I'm going to just keep the participants' window open so that I can see if you raise your hands if you have any questions. Please do ask questions as you go along. And as we go along, if you have a question, please raise your digital hand at any time and I'll find a time to respond to it. And we'll also have other times in the course of this presentation to ask questions. So last week, Laurie gave the Saturday talk on the Four Noble Truths. It was a really good talk. And I want to review those very briefly. And she also gave a kind of introduction to the Eightfold Path.


And we're going to take that more deeply tonight. So the Four Noble Truths actually echo an ancient Indian medical model, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it. It's the first truth of dukkha is disease. And actually, one of the translations for dukkha is dis-ease or unease. But in this medical model, it's disease. And you have the second noble truth, which is the cause of the disease, which is, to our understanding now, it's bacteria or a virus or some other condition. In Buddhist terms, it's craving, desire, wanting things to be different from how they are.


The third noble truth is that there is such a thing as being healthy in this medical model, to be free of disease. And in the Buddhist version of this, the third noble truth is the truth of nirvana. There is an end to suffering. And the fourth noble truth in the medical model is the cure. And in Buddhist terms, it is marga or magga, the path to nirvana. And it is the eightfold path, which we are going to be speaking of today. I would suggest also that in the context of of our lives, we can use the four noble truths as an analytical tool.


And you can think of that in social terms or in personal terms. It's the truth of the first truth is the truth of suffering, which is what is what is what is our experience at this moment? And just to say the in the. In the Dhamma Chakravartara Sutra, which is the sutra of the first turning of the wheel, Buddha said. This is the noble truth of Dukkha. Birth is Dukkha. Aging is Dukkha. Sickness is Dukkha. Death is Dukkha. Sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are Dukkha.


Association with what which associated with which with what one doesn't love or unpleasant conditions is Dukkha. Separation from what we love. Or separation from pleasant conditions is Dukkha. Not to get what one wants is Dukkha. And then it sums up and we'll get to this later in our classes. The five aggregates of attachment, which is the five skandhas, are Dukkha. The second noble truth is the noble truth of the origin of Dukkha. Which is craving, which produces rebirth, which is bound up with pleasure and greed. It finds delight in this and that. And in other words, craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence or becoming,


and craving for non-existence or annihilation. I think there's other ways that we can frame the cause of Dukkha. It's useful to frame it as wanting things to be different from how they are. And another way to frame it is that emotional reactivity is Dukkha. That not emotion, but our reaction to emotion is suffering. So these are, those are the first two noble truths. The third noble truth is the truth of nirvana or the truth of cessation of suffering.


Of Dukkha. And in the Dhammacakkappattara Sutra, the Buddha says, it is the complete cessation of Dukkha. Giving up, renouncing, relinquishing, detaching from craving. Acharn Amaro, one of our Western Theravada teaching, says that he has a wonderful way of putting cessation. It's like when you're lying in bed and the refrigerator switches off. You know, that kind of droning sound that you hardly notice at all. And yet when it switches off, it's like, ah, that's, that's literally cessation.


It's the cessation of that, of that sound, which you didn't even know was causing you some uneasiness. So that's, that's a wonderful analogy for cessation. And so then we come to the fourth noble truth. The fourth noble truth, simply put, is, I want to just to name them all. The Eightfold Path, it's the Eightfold Path, which is the path, the way, the path to the cessation of suffering, the way we can accomplish the end of nirvana, the end which is nirvana. So those eight steps on the path are right view,


right or right understanding, right thought or right intention or right aspiration, right speech, which includes right listening, right action, right livelihood, and then there is the right effort, which pertains to the field, the field of meditation. So it's the right effort in our practice. The right, right awareness, right mindfulness, which is actually a tool that applies to almost all of these. And then right meditation or right concentration.


And we will go into all, all of these. So this, these, these eight steps break down into three areas. The first area, Laurie talked about this actually, in her, in her talk. And she had an interesting way of putting it. Whoops. Laurie put it as the first two, right view and right intention are our attitude, the attitude that we have towards life. The next three, which is right speech,


right action and right livelihood are the area of conduct or moral behavior. And then she said that the third is meditation, which is commonly the way it's framed. And that, that consists of right effort, right awareness and right meditation or right concentration. Again, one of our Theravada teachers talks about the eightfold path as a way to return to integrity. And so you have attitude is another way of expressing Prajna or wisdom.


And in terms of a physical model, that is the area of our head. Sheila, which is the attitude, which is the, the expression of con of conduct or morality is Sheila. And that is synonymous with our body. And then Samadhi, which is technically means concentration, but more broadly means meditation is the heart. So we have the head,


the body and the heart as creating the integrity of our whole physical being. So these are not, these are not stages. These steps are not stages, but they're all arising and being practiced as appropriate in any given moment. And also they have a circular movement or circular route, which supports and amplifies each to each other. I think Lori said this also on Saturday, that in a sense, the first two steps of life right view and right intention, which are the wisdom steps on this path are actually the


precondition for morality and the precondition for meditation. And so morality and meditation in turn further cultivate or nurture the ground of wisdom. What's interesting to me as I was thinking about it this week is that this is resonant with Dogen's expression of practice realization in our, in our framing of the Zen that we practice coming from Dogen. We understand that we don't practice realization. We don't practice meditation in order to become enlightened.


We practice meditation as an expression of our already enlightened nature. So in this sense, with, with wisdom as the ground in the first two steps of the Noble, of the Eightfold Path, morality or ethical conduct and meditation are the expression of the wisdom that we already have. So it's really synonymous with Dogen's notion of practice enlightenment. So the other thing I want to say about this before I want to stop and take some, some questions, but, uh, all of these steps of


the Eightfold Path are the word right is attached to them. Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood and so forth. Right means in this, in this context, right means normal or natural. That's who we are when our habits and our self-regarding patterns are set aside. We think and we act from the place of oneness. Then that is what is, what we might think of as right. So as of, as we've been thinking about this,


all of our Buddhist practices, all those lists, the factors of enlightenment, the parmitas, the precepts, the Eightfold Path and so forth. Are these, they're all in a sense, they are virtues. They are expressions of the enlightened activity of Buddhists and bodhisattvas, the natural expression of them. It's right, natural and normal. And at the same time, for those of us who are somewhat deficient in the realization of our Buddha nature, they are practices to be cultivated


that lean or that lead to the realization of our Buddha nature, the realization of ourselves as bodhisattvas. So for a bodhisattva or Buddha, the Eightfold Path is just natural activity. That's what they do. They don't have to think about it. They just do that for us who are still on the path to becoming bodhisattvas. These are actually practices that we have to cultivate. So I want to stop there and see if you have any thoughts or questions. Just take a, take a breath and please raise your digital hand and we'll stop for a moment and address that. So please feel free to ask questions.


I see a question from Kelsey. Hi Hasan. Hi. I am curious if, if right is normal and natural in this context. Is there a wrong? Yes. There is a wrong. Is that unnatural? What? Is that unnatural? It's unnatural. What it is, is, is deluded. Wrong is a self-centered view. Wrong, wrong proceeds from the view of oneself as a self that has an interest and has a self concern


and all kinds, all of our deluded behavior proceed from that. We'll talk about that a little more, but yes, this is the choices that we have are quite simply put the, the right, right effort is actually where this flood right effort is proceeding from vow, proceeding from the Bodhisattva vow, proceeding from the vow to, to wake up and wrong, if you will, is to allow ourselves to be pulled around or pushed around by our habits and our karma. Does that make sense? And, you know, in early Buddhism,


there's a, in early Buddhism, there's, it's very unambiguous. Something is wholesome or something is unwholesome. And it's just, it's, it's easy to discern that in Mahayana Buddhism. And I think in, you know, in Zen, which is Mahayana Buddhism, it gets a little more complicated because what is an, what is a wholesome intention on a conscious level? If we are not Bodhisattvas or Buddhas may actually have elements of the outcome that are, that are unwholesome. And so this is, this is something that we can,


I think we can talk about it and investigate further. But I think you find, generally my sense is that early Buddhism is quite unambiguous. And Mahayana Buddhism, looks to, it still is, there's clear, it's clear about what's right and what's wrong, but it's not clear about what's right and what's wrong in every situation because those situations are themselves highly conditioned. Does that make sense? Yeah, I think it's bringing up for me sort of what is actually a self-centered action. Thinking about like, am I doing this to take care of myself? In a non-selfish way,


or am I doing this to take care of myself in a very self-serving way or, you know, something like that? Well, I think that this calls for us to really scrutinize our thoughts and our actions very closely, which is actually the heart of the practice. And another way to examine or explore this is to ask our friends and teachers, you know, we are capable because we are karmic beings, we are capable of deluding ourselves. And that's why we have good Dharma friends and teachers to, to reflect what something looks like. Good.


Thank you, Sean. Hi. I think that you, I have kind of the same question and you may have covered it, but I got a little distracted while I was trying to compose my question. And so the, the word natural always kind of throws me off because it always raises a red flag when I see it on foods and that label, you know, you can see things from the forties back in the old days, you know, the natural food. And it was, and I think, you know, it was intentionally deceptive. It seems that way. So I just got a little thrown off and what is natural? You know, and I think it does tie into something about, you know, are our actions self-centered or, you know, are we trying to take care of ourselves? Are we, you know, recognizing something in ourselves that's not quite right.


And so we're paying a lot of attention to ourselves. So maybe you could just touch on the word natural just a little bit. Well, I didn't say organic natural to me implies, well, to go back. It's interesting in the context of Christianity, which most of us have in our background, whether we're Christian or not, but in growing up in this country, we have the note, we have the notion of original sin, right? I think that Buddhism has the notion of original enlightenment. That is what is natural. What is natural is that


the way of being that is not conditioned by karma. So, and I'm going to get into that in the next, actually in the next section. But that's, that's what I'm using as, as a, as a rough guide to, to natural. Okay. Okay. Yep. Yeah. Joe. Hello. Yes. I was thinking, is this like the notion of Sadaqah? Which is what? Righteousness. Righteousness from, from Jewish tradition. Yes. Okay. I thought that's what I thought. That's what the reference was. Perhaps so. Perhaps so. I get tangled up myself coming from a Jewish background.


Yeah. I have all kinds of karmic formations about that. but I think that there is, there certainly is a notion of what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. That is very clearly defined in, in actually all of the, all of the traditions of the, of the book. And there is probably some, there's resonance there. So maybe I should leave it there. Is that okay? Okay. Anything else before I proceed? Any other questions or thoughts? So there are, the path,


Marga, has two dimensions, which is really, in a way it's a reference to the, to the two truths in Buddhism. There's the mundane truth. There's a mundane path. And there's the supra mundane truth or the, so there's, there's conventional and there is transcendent. There's mundane, super mundane. And the noble, the four, the AFO path can be seen in each of those contexts.


So the mundane path is actually what we are following. When we try to really attend to the circumstances of our life. And what I like about the AFO path, you know, the AFO path is the path to the cessation of Dukkha. It's the path to Nirvana. But if you look at it, talking about your view, your thought, your speech, your, your, your action, your, uh, livelihood, which is your job, your, your effort in the various aspects of your meditation. This is the picture of a whole life. So in the mundane


dimension of the path, it's a question of laying out standards for how each of us lives. And we find this actually mirrored. It's really mirrored in the Zen tradition in a wonderful way, because in the Zen tradition, we have our meditation. We cook for ourselves. We serve for each other. We have work period. We return to meditation. We have elements of everyday life that are embedded in the form of our practice day. And monastic practice is exactly like that.


You go from one of these activities to another without really distinguishing one. One is not higher than the other. Cooking, serving, work period are also expressions of right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. They are also the taste of the food that the Tenzo cooks, the way it is served into your plate, the way somebody cuts the grass or paints the house are also expressions of their wisdom, of their view and their intention. And so this is to me, what is wonderful about the practice that we have


is that completely expressive of the entire Eightfold Path. And it's different than, say, going on a meditation retreat where you're, where you're just, you're really ensconced in meditation. And then there's a staff that serves you or that cooks, that cooks the food and serves you. And there's no work period because the staff is actually doing the work. This is a very different, I don't mean to be critical, but this is a very different modality of practice than what I think we find in, in our tradition. And I think you find it in other traditions as well. So this is the mundane path is


what happens when we try to clarify our discipline, clarify the practices that we do, which develop concentration and arouse day-to-day insight, whether this is in our walking around lives or in our incision or retreat. Mundane doesn't necessarily mean worldly. In other words, it's not the cultivating the mundane Eightfold Path is not a road to wealth or fame or worldly success. The mundane path actually


is a necessary path on the way to enlightenment. And in fact, we actually have to practice the mundane path before we reach the super mundane path. And I think we'll come to what the distinction is, but in the mundane path, it means that you are still, we are still seeing conditioned things. We are seeing things. We're seeing other people as things, seeing objects as things and so forth. We're seeing conditioned things and we are working with them as the substance of our lives as a substance of our practice.


The super mundane path is the direct directly seeing the reality of conditioning. It's not looking at the conditioning, the conditioned object, but it's seeing that everything we look at is subject to conditions. And when we see that conditionality, we are actually by seeing, seeing that conditionality. We are, we are having a glimpse of Nirvana. You have to cultivate the mundane before you could have the insight into the super mundane. And in fact, one of the problems that can occur to someone in meditation


is having a glimpse of conditionality, of the universal nature of conditionality without having the grounding in the mundane, without having reached it by that, by that path. So when we practice the mundane path, our understanding gets deeper and deeper. And sometimes when we, when we have done that for a long time, then we have a glimpse of a radical shift in perspective where we're seeing the nature of conditionality itself. And this is, this is a kind of spiritual maturity.


And when the mind turns to this way of looking at all that we see, then we are free from where when we see conditionality, then we're not free from conditionality, but we're free within conditionality. So let me stop there for a moment and and see if this provokes you in any way. Evidently, yes. Here's Ross. I'm sorry. You broke up. What does it mean to you


to be free within conditionality? We see it, but we're free from it as opposed to being kind of bound or trapped or hooked. I think it means we are freer to make choices that are in alignment with our vow to awaken with all beings. Otherwise, short of that, we're still going to be pulled by these subtle or not so subtle tugs of our habits and what we perceive as our self. So it sounds like the decisions or choice we make are still conditioned, but there's a different quality to the relationship. It's not like


we're like some kind of new world of unconditioned. Well, I can't really say because I'm not there, but my understanding is that we're constantly turning towards the unconditioned. We're turning to say when we're when we're when we take the bodhisattva vow to awaken with all beings, we're awakening with all beings because we see that all beings are ourselves, that there is no separation between you and me. And so to work for that benefit, the benefit of all beings is to work for my own liberation and your liberation. So it sounds like we practice the ordinary


and then there's a realization that's actually extraordinary. That's that is what that's what the traditional teaching is saying. Yes. Okay, that is what it's saying. And I think that in the Zen tradition, you know, you've been studying Dogen for a long time in the Zen tradition. What he's what I what I feel like Dogen is saying and others are saying is that the transcendent the supramundane is there all the time. It's everywhere. And even in it's it's there even in what we see as conditioned, but we see it as conditioned because it's very hard to get free


from our mind that sees this as conditioned. Exactly. Yeah. So that's the Yogachara teaching. Yogachara teaching is that everything that we see is a function of our perception. Right. And yet it's also saying there's something there's something beneath or beyond that that we can get a glimpse of or within that in line with what you're saying. Right, right, right. Great. Thanks so much, Hosan. Thank you. Judy. Hi, Hosan. Hi, everybody. Hi. I I realize I'm getting sort of lost in the sauce of language, especially the these terms of the the mundane and the supramundane, which just always land kind of abstract


for me. And I realized that where it's it's it's landing in my body, you know, in my heart space is just reflecting on our our recent council practice and the incredible intimacy and warmth that that came forth in people sharing just two minutes each what was alive for them in the moment and how it covered just the spectrum of experience from just the whole range of human emotion and loss and joy and, you know, just everything. And that from that somehow what emerged was a collective seemed like shared recognition, shared intimacy and, you know, love. And how important that was to me that I really felt


Sangha is something very real and alive. And so I'm wondering if there's a way to speak to this mundane and super mundane or conditioning or any of that stuff that languaging that speaks to intimacy and relationship. Like, how do we really practice with this? Well, I don't think there's really a distinction there between mundane and super mundane that if we look at when we go through the Eightfold Path, which we're just about to do when we talk about conduct which is, of course, influenced it's conduct is the expression of our wisdom. Conduct is also what grows out of hopefully what grows out of


our meditation. Conduct is completely about relationship. So right speech is about relationship. Right action is about relationship. Right livelihood is about relationship. These are the manifestations of our connection and our love. And they exist on the mundane and so-called the super mundane level. And this is for me these are these are themselves provisional descriptions. They are not absolute descriptions. I mean, of course, in the Zen tradition, we we eschew steps and stages. What I'm giving you is an overview of of a traditional perspective and we have to figure out


how that manifests in our in our practice. But it is about love. It's about connection. And I would say as Kelsey Kelsey was asking, you know, if there's wholesome, is there unwholesome? And I think it's a very simple distinction. Wholesome is about the cultivation of connection and unwholesome is about the activity of division. And that is a a simple framework, but so far it's worked for me. So I want to go into each one of these. Oh, there's another.


Gary has a question. Hi. Would you would you say that like during session when kind of the bottom drops out that, you know, periodically that happens once in a while. Would you call that the super mundane versus. Yeah, it's a glimpse of the super mundane. Okay. Mundane. Yes. Yes. Okay. You know, I think that at the risk of cliche or oversimplification when that happens. We feel we experience oneness.


It's not that we think about it. It's not that we have an idea about it. We're actually just at one with all that we all that we experience. So that that's one way and that can be that can be a large cataclysmic experience. It can also be a very quiet subtle experience. And the thing is if we are really tuned into ourselves if we do is we actually take our practice from the meditation hall into the world and our practice being really looking at looking at our minds then we might see that actually that these experiences are not so unusual.


So that's what I would say. Joel. No, thank you. The super the super mundane I'm like they say the super mundane path but so far I'm not clear about the pathness of the super mundane. It seems like you say to be one. So the one doesn't include eight. If that makes sense. Like I'm hearing specific times when we have a sense of that we the bottom is falling out like it's such a but maybe I'm getting hung up on the idea of path. I think you are. Yeah. Looking for something here one second. Yeah. These are not steps.


Yeah. They're aspects. They're facets. OK. So depending on what you're looking at you may see one. Aspect or one component or another. They're not they're not steps that that are going step by step towards something. Yeah. Well there are aspects but it would seem like so the super mundane would appear in all like in the library. There it is. It drops out and you're in a livelihood context and there would be or you're in work. You're speaking and something opens up. I mean that's harder for me to imagine. Easy for me to imagine. Yeah. That happens. What happens when you or Mel or someone like just says this thing


and when anyone Yeah. So it's like the super mundane manifests in all these aspects. Yes. OK. OK. That helps. That helps. All of these aspects are manifestations of at that point their manifestations of Nirvana. Their manifestations of an unself unselfcentered being. OK. OK. I want to go on. If that's OK. Sure. And go through the full path. So by the way I want to say I think that you know there's in the Thich Nhat Hanh book.


It's it's kind of extended. It goes on for a number of chapters and it's very good. There's really good good material there. And the best I can do is to allude to it and you can you should read it. I think so right view or right understanding is the true foundation. In a sense it's the right view of the other stages of the path. In other context the right view is the view of nirvana. In one of


Dogen also talks about it is right view is looking at the nature of impermanence. So it's not something that one reads in a book. Without right view everything is really cloudy or unclear. It's also right view is not a particular view. What the way I've come to see it is right view is it can be a view of what is right in front of you and that can be near or far according to the demands of the circumstance.


Right right now my right view my right view is expressed in my view of the screen and my seeing of you. Um at another time my right right view for me might be looking at what is happening in Myanmar. Look at what is happening in Israel, Palestine to recognize that that is that is also my world and I have responsibility to it and for it. So right view is not a is not a fixed it's not a fixed focal length if that makes sense. There's all kinds of formulations of right view. One is that right view is the recognition that one


a person is the owner of their karma. That nobody else owns your activities but you do and what you do in the world what effect that has is dependent upon your activities. Another way is that is to see that is to look at right view as the view of the four noble truths that everything is subject to arising and everything is subject to ceasing. Thich Nhat Hanh talks about right view when you look at a piece of paper right view is the view that sees the tree


the sun the soil the rain the paper mill the paper mill worker the person behind the counter at Office Depot that right view is seeing the entirety of the amazingly complex reality that puts this piece of paper in front of you and when you look at a piece of paper right view is to see all of that conditionality. You also might say that right view is seeing that in our usual world


there is no single right view that my right view of something is the is different than say Ron's or Karen's or Stan's you know that we see things differently and we don't even know exactly how differently we see things but that our view is based is also conditioned on our karma and that it's not a an accurate flawless mental representation of whatever it is that we're encountering. Right view you could also say


Thich Nhat Hanh says that we look at the cause of suffering and until we have right view when we look when we look at the cause of suffering we tend to blame others for our unhappiness. That's a tough one. Because our world is completely interactive and often when I'm even I hear myself when I say that say yes but Thich Nhat Hanh's perspective is it's very tough minded. So again this comes


back to owning one's own karma. When you own your until you own until one owns one's karma one doesn't have the ability to change one's karma and the reality of the Buddhist notion of karma which is different than other say notions of karma in Indian religion is that karma is not fixed karma can be transformed and so another way of looking at right view is that it's the potentiality of change and of our agency in that change according to our vow. So right thought or right


intention is comes from right view and so it is right right intention is the intention to be free and I would say it's to be free on you know in the mundane dimension it's to be free from the shackles of our society or the conditions that we've been subject to by virtue of birth by virtue of language skin color gender etc it's to be it's and in the in the super mundane it's to be free and ultimately and certainly in the in the early Buddhist tradition is to be


free from the cycle of birth and death right intention is also connected to renunciation the renouncing of self gratification of our of our attachments and and and the flip side of that of renunciation is right view is the view of generosity of giving what we can to people with respect to what they need right view is loving kindness


it's compassion and in the Mahayana tradition it is the four vows the bodhisattva vows are right view and to raise those vows right view is to raise bodhicitta to raise the mind that wishes for the awakening and enlightenment of all beings which include ourselves so those are the first two those are the the wisdom aspects of the path we move on to the the conduct section which is right speech right action and right livelihood I don't know a lot of you have had lay ordination some of you not yet I wonder how many of you have had lay


ordination never read you know long paragraph that's at the bottom of your kechi myaku good to take it out and read it so one of the sections in my kechi myaku says the monk Akuryu Sojin Daisho in the inner room of Zen Shinji which is at Tassahara affirmed and revealed to me Hozan Kushiki that the perceptual vein of the Buddha is the one great causal condition of our lineage gate in other words the element of conduct the element of the precepts is the essential aspect


of our lineage you can put that in two ways one way you could say if we're not acting in alignment with wholesome with wholesome conduct then we are not manifesting right view and right intention we're not manifesting wisdom and then you can turn it on its head and say if we are not embodying wisdom then we're not going to be capable of the manifestation of right conduct so it's a beautiful line that the perceptual vein the perceptual vein of the Buddha is the one great causal condition of our lineage gate so the first of these three


the third Noble Truth is right speech which is put first in this in this section on conduct because often speech leads our thought and our action and also because as we may have noticed it has the greatest potential for wide-ranging harm so right speech means not lying not slandering or tale telling not being rude or indulging in harsh speech or idle talk and again to come back to what I was saying to Judy right speech


means words that unite and connect us rather than words that divide us and one thing that I like about Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings is that the flip side of right speech another necessary element is listening instead of speaking when we're not speaking we should be listening and I think that the ratio of speaking to listening should favor listening although I'm doing a very poor job of it tonight because I'm supposed to speak but listening this is what this is what the practice of counsel is about it's mostly listening if you have 20 people there's


you're going to listen to 19 of them and you're going to speak once so the percentage of listening to speaking is very high the fourth of the Eightfold Path is right action and this covers a number of the of the six of the of the 10 Bodhisattva precepts but it means right action means promoting wholesome and honorable conduct and it includes four includes at least four precepts it includes the precept of not killing not stealing not using intoxicants and not misusing sexuality and again I would say


right action means bringing people together creating harmony creating community as opposed to creating dissension the Fifth Noble Truth is right livelihood which means livelihood that sustains other beings and doesn't bring harm to them so very particularly what spelled out is not making or selling weapons not selling intoxicants or drugs not gambling or promoting gambling not being a butcher


and so forth that's right livelihood and it's I think it's a delicate question these days because there are many things that we do that are just a job I remember a discussion at a Engage Buddhists seminar where the presenter was talking about bringing mindfulness to the offices of Nike sneaker company and he was he went on and on and just the question it came up which got very short shrift in response was well is mindfulness being offered to the factory workers in the Philippines and also


is it right livelihood to be making sneakers that cost a hundred and fifty dollars is this a very this is a difficult question some places it's with some things are really clearly let right livelihood but some things are are quite ambiguous and we have to figure this out Akin Roshi told a story once about having a student who was really gung ho for Zen practice and he owned a liquor store and he said well how should I think about this and Akin Roshi said well in a year most likely either you will sell the liquor store or you will stop practicing and


you know he ended up not continuing his practice now that's kind of anecdotal but I think that in our world the question of right livelihood is one that we have to examine really closely it's a murky question but it's still quite relevant but where is the time the sixth step on the eightfold path is right effort or diligence this simply means not so simply avoiding the unwholesome and cultivating the wholesome and if you can figure out what those are by yourself great if you can't then get help in contemplating them right effort also means I mean someone was speaking with me today about


what should they be doing this practice and I really take to me right effort is Sojin Roshi spoke to this and said right effort is just to set an intention and keep it so if your intention is if you say I'm going to sit a period of Zazen on Tuesday April 18th if you keep it that intention that is right effort if you don't then that's not right effort so we keep our practice right effort means setting an intention a realistic intention and keeping it and that's an intention to practice that's also an intention of how we how we manifest our conduct in the world


how we how we how we provide our livelihood all of that is a matter of right effort or diligence the chapter on right the 7th on right mindfulness is the richest I think in Thich Nhat Hanh's book and I'm not even going to go into it it's really excellent and detailed but for Thich Nhat Hanh what he does is he takes right mindfulness and he has it as a bridge he puts it up to the third step on the path because he feels that right mindfulness is the bridge between wisdom and those aspects of conduct and meditation and I think that makes a lot of sense and in that chapter he outlines


he goes into the I think it's the seven miracles of mindfulness which he's written a whole book about and also goes into the four foundations of mindfulness mindfulness of the body mindfulness of the feelings mindfulness of thoughts and mindfulness of the dharmas and I think that it's important to recognize when we talk about mindfulness sometimes we really dumb it down to think of it as just being in the present but it's being in the present in our body it's being in the present in our feelings which are in Buddhist terms the feelings are very simple they're just bare perceptions of what's pleasant unpleasant or neutral being


in mindfulness in mindful awareness of our thoughts which are our thought formations what stories are we telling what what are we making up about built on our perceptions what narratives are we creating about our lives and what they mean what interpretations and then the fourth foundation of mindfulness is mindfulness of the dharmas which is a highly active practice it's not just being in the present moment it's actually applying it's applying the eightfold path to what we perceive it's applying the paramitas as practices it's applying the factors of enlightenment so it's applying these dharma systems it's like putting lenses in your glasses and looking at the world through those lenses


which means actually affecting and changing our perception and the final the eighth step on the eightfold path is right concentration or right meditation and what's interesting Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this as one pointedness but he also explains that the Chinese character for concentration is has the implication of evenness so of balance of having a very even way of meeting one's mind and I like that a lot


because we can mistake concentration for something very intense and the notion of concentration as evenness kind of takes the edge of accomplishment away so concentration or meditation that's our meditation and our meditation of course involves it involves effort it involves our sitting upright which is effortful and involves mindfulness mindfulness is another translation of the word mindfulness the correct translation is smirti or sati means remembering so it's remembering where we are and within


our meditation that's a constant effort that we are making so those are we've gone through the full path here there's more that I could say but I'm going to stop because we're almost out of time and leave the last minutes for questions and comments Ross I see your hand up Hello again Hosan thank you I have a question about right livelihood as you explained it sounded like for me that BZC's Abbott and office manager are involved or engaged in right livelihood because they are supporting a practice for awakening in our Sangha and at the same time when I look at the screen


I'm wondering who will have a glass of wine at dinner, drink a beer have a bottle of scotch for warming up in cold days and stuff like that and are supporting liquor store owners or wine shops or what have you how do we reconcile that as right or wrong wholesome or unwholesome there's a question about the practice place livelihood but most people are engaged in working in other places yeah I think it's good to leave that as an open question so long as I'm going to have a glass of wine it's a little hard for me to take a high moral stand towards the person who's


selling me the wine you know I'm again I'm giving you the traditional interpretation here I have a glass of wine or I'll have a glass of bourbon I'm not doing that to intoxicate myself but I still have questions about doing it or not doing it that's okay that's very different to bring it back to me right yeah thank you sure I think that's where I have to start if if I'm saying that selling alcohol is not right livelihood and I'm drinking


alcohol or eating a hamburger then there's a disconnect and yeah it should be as you were telling Judy it's something that's inclusive so you're included with the liquor seller or the hamburger purveyor and not separating from it yeah got you, thank you so much other questions or thoughts so it's a little bit like drinking from a fire hose here tonight but I hope you'll excuse me you can always go back and listen yeah so we do have a couple minutes if anyone has something to ask or to put forward please ...


... Sue this has been a real journey I didn't get through all the Noble Eightfold Path in the book because it's so much material and I actually haven't read this book before so I want to thank you for giving us homework and your presentation tonight, thank you very much it's been quite a journey good, thank you and I look forward to future classes I think it's a very good book and yeah, the Saturday class is going to be on


the Three Marks of Existence the Four Marks of Existence however you want to contemplate it and we're going to unpack that it's not so complicated it's not as complex as this, but it's important anyone else? Mary Beth no, God Mary Beth and then Carol and then Kelsey and then probably we have to end this is just a quick question, I wasn't sure what the Three Marks of Existence were in the book, is that the same as the Three Dharma Seals? Yes Thank you. Yes, it's the Three Dharma Seals, yeah I will refrain from saying anything, Carol?


We have lots of lists in our practice oh yeah and some of them overlap and so many I'll read and see these are the most important there's some feedback, I don't know if that's my machine but this is the way to cross over to this shore or this is if you want peace in your life what do you think is the most important of all these lists to really you know, because it's hard to seems like it's hard to follow them all or to study them all and to really take them in in one's body and one's mind and everything do you have, what do you think? Yes, I always return to the Four Noble Truths which


of course includes the Eightfold Path Four Noble Truths are really my touchstone and because I can because I can use them in the context of looking at meditation and I use them as an analytical tool for circumstances that are problematic you can use them to look at social questions, you can use them to look at questions in your family or questions at work what is the suffering, what's hurting right now or what feels out of balance what's the cause or the causes of it and to look very widely at those causes what would it look like for them to end what would the what would the appearance of harmony or peace look like


and how do you get there and so that applies to us as individuals in the context of our meditation practice but it also applies to communities it applies to nations it applies to work situations so I go back to the Four Noble Truths because that's the first thing that the Buddha taught and so that's like the point of departure to me and it's common to every tradition of Buddhism that I know all the rest, the rest is commentary so last question Kelsey I think I kind of answered this question myself but I'll put it out there which with right livelihood I was kind of feeling


I feel there's like a judgment of other people's livelihoods that comes up and then I started thinking well maybe there's a judgment of every single one of these parts of the path and that's not really what we're concerned with is if someone else has right view or right understanding or right livelihood we're concerned about do we have right view, right livelihood yes so this is actually a spinoff of your earlier question right and what I will say and this is something that I discussed with Bhikkhu Bodhi I think you might know of him as a really significant translator and scholar and what he said was early Buddhism recalls Theravada Buddhism there was no ambiguity


something was wholesome or unwholesome it was quite binary I don't think we see the world quite that way and yet we still have to decide I'm much more interested in the question in what I was saying to Judy what connects and binds us and what divides us and the problem there is sometimes the same thing might connect some people and divide others we have to decide what to do and live with the consequences so it's not so binary the presentation I think you're right that the way even by the formulation of the application of the word right


there's this implication of this binary nature so we have to figure out what right means for us that's the best we can do and the fact is we have a community so we can check this we can check out our perception with our good friends and teachers and that means we're not left to our own devices just simply to figure something out but actually share and deliberate and do our best that's the best I can offer so I think that's where we're going to close