I know that I have already gone over The Eightfold Path before, but I would like to cover at least one of the spokes of this Dharma Wheel a bit more in-dept—that being Right View.
Out of all 8, I am sure that we each have our favorites. Now, don’t get your meditation pants all in a bunch; I am not talking about perceiving, judging, and determining dualisms; I am talking about how, at different points in our lives, there are certain ones that we naturally gravitate to, or relate to, over others. For me, at this point in my life, it is Right View and Meditation. However, being aware that I myself am also highly transitory, I remain aware that this too is in flux and is subject to change.
Besides the fact that I like it, I also want to cover Right View a bit because I think a lot of people are not really aware of what it “is”. During various Buddhist meetings and talks on the matter of the Eightfold Path, I have experienced hearing lots of people say that they do not like or relate to Right View, but that they love Mindfulness, or Right Action, or something else. But, when I talk to them more I come to find out that they are constantly reading good Buddhist books, are listening to good dharma talks, are in book groups, study groups, etc., etc.
The fact of the matter is that they are already practicing Right View. Actually, you are practicing it Right Now. Right View is really nothing more than the intellectual pursuit of understanding, or study and cognition, of The Four Nobel Truths and The Eightfold Path. Not that I am trying to de-spiritualize the thing, but there is nothing about it to de-spiritualize in the first-place—this step (out of the Eight) it is not a “spiritual” process to begin with, it is a mental process. Right View is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It is knowledge.
If you take a look at any of your good Buddhist books, you should come to find that in some way they all at the very least address 1 of the Four Nobel Truths, or 1 element of the Eightfold Path. Odds are, that inadvertently that book, teaching, or recording, hits on several of them. So that book on Mindfulness that you are really into right now, probably is also covering topics on Meditation, Right Action, Right Speech, and, to top it all off… the intellectual process you are going through to study and understand more on the topic is, in its own way, practicing Right View.
It is actually quite hard, if not impossible, to really practice any one of the eight solely; for, they all tend to lead into and blend into one another. I know that different groups like to “specialize”, or focus, on one as their primary one; kind-of carving out a distinct flavor or niche for themselves in the Buddhist community; but, in the long-run, unless you try really, really hard to fight it, your grabbing onto that first spoke and pulling it has started that big ‘ol wheel a-turning.
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