According to Buddhism, for us to achieve happiness we need to accept the four noble truths which are “Life is suffering”, “The origin of suffering is attachment”, “The cessation of suffering is attainable” and “The path to the cessation of suffering”. I’ve written about these previously but the fourth noble truth says about the path we need to go on. The path is called the Noble Eightfold Path. There are three sections in it: Wisdom (right view and intention), ethical conduct (right speech, action and livelihood) and mental development (right effort, mindfulness and concentration) Here is my understanding of the path:
- Right view: As I understand it, this is to see that nothing that we do is permanent and that everything comes to an end. Actions (and non-action) have consequences. It’s to see the world for what it is.
- Right intention: To me, this means that we do what we do for the right reasons. We do things without the explicit hope for gains.
- Right speech: This is self explanatory. We shouldn’t use language to hurt people, we shouldn’t knowingly mislead people with our words. This bounces back to one of the five precepts: “don’t lie”
- Right action: To me, this means that we should act in a way that doesn’t hurt other people. My belief in karma is that if we are good to people, they will be more inclined to be nice to others (also the opposite of that).
- Right livelihood: We all need to make a living but if we’re doing things that go against the five precepts we should refrain from it. This goes along with my belief in karma. If we’re promoting activities that go against the well-being of others, we shouldn’t do it.
- Right effort: To me, this means that we should do what we can to follow the noble eightfold path, to live under the five precepts and to understand the four noble truths. It doesn’t just fall into our laps.
- Right mindfulness: This is to see what is going on in life rather than pay too much attention to what we think is going on. If something happens we always have to give it a back story or conceptualize it. If we pay too much attention to the way we perceive the things that go on, we’re just fooling ourselves.
- Right concentration: Concentration is meditation. If we’re able to train our brains to focus on our breath or whatever we’ll be all the better for it. Our brains like to think and our minds are their own worst enemy. If we’re able to strengthen our concentration, mentally we’ll feel better.
This is just my opinions about the noble eightfold path. As with everything in Buddhism, it’s down to interpretation.
I do believe that by following the teachings of Buddhism, we can all achieve a much better level of happiness than we currently have and the most ironic thing is, it’s actually not a hard way to live.