The Principle of Self-Reflection
The Noble Eightfold Path in the context of modern life
The Noble Eightfold Path in the context of modern life
The Noble Eightfold Path is a step-by-step guide to cease peoples’ suffering and restore the freedom of the soul. Though The Nobel Eightfold Path was conceived by Shakyamuni Buddha who lived 2500 years ago, it has not lost any of its significance, even in the 21st century. On the contrary, people, living in a modern society would benefit greatly from integrating this noble path into their daily lives. The Noble Eightfold Path is the method that leads to enlightenment in spiritual terms, and helps people to discover peace and happiness while living in this world.
The Noble Eightfold Path is a path to protect us from going astray and to guide us in living a proper life – a life that leads to human perfection through the Middle Way. It is a guideline to discover what is right and what is wrong; what is real and what is false; what is good and what is evil. The Noble Eightfold Path, consisting of Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, is the most explicit guide for self-reflection.
means believing in the law of cause and effect and seeing things in exactly the same way as God would see them. It is important to check if we see ourselves, others and the world in the right way; can we view events from other peoples’ viewpoints, or even from a higher perspective from heaven. Right View helps us to gain a fair perspective on what happened during the day or on every incident that occurred around us.
means to reflect on the constant waves of thoughts that enter our mind and to remove our attachments that stick to it. It is important to examine our thoughts as if they were in a transparent glass box and to check if we would be embarrassed if those thoughts were revealed to others and to God. Our thoughts reflect the purity of our soul and determine who we are.
means to reflect on the words we used throughout the day. Right speech means to avoid false speech, abusive words, flattery and deceit. Right speech also means using wisdom and courage to criticize when something needs to be criticized, as well as positive encouragement, which is necessary to create an ideal society.
means behaving in the right way and avoiding whatever is shameful as a human being. In the context of modern life, Right Action also can be interpreted as right work. Our work provides us infinite possibilities to practice spiritually nurturing love and raise the level of our enlightenment. Self-reflection on Right Action means to check if we exerted ourselves fully and worked with all our heart and soul.
means to lead a decent, honest and moral life. In the context of a modern life, Right Livelihood would also involve the effective use of given time. When reflecting on our daily lives it is important to ask ourselves whether we are able to live one day in such a way that it is worth an entire lifetime. Right Living can be attained by integrating three actions: mental – for Right Thought; verbal – for Right Speech and physical – for Right Action. By improving our thoughts, words and conduct, we can attain this well-balanced way of life.
means making efforts to advance higher, step by step, towards the direction of God (Buddha). Whilst living a well-balanced life, it encourages us to advance towards enlightenment – to make further efforts to follow the way of God (Buddha). Right Effort means to correct our tendency to be lazy, improve ourselves, deepen our knowledge of the Truth and make every effort to spread it.
indicates the direction of a strong will that is projected far into the future. It marks an advanced level of spiritual discipline and involves visualization, prayers to God and prayers to Guardian and Guiding Spirits. Right Mindfulness is a way for us, living on earth, to come closer to God, allowing us to transcend this three-dimensional world while at the same time belonging to it.
means going through all the steps of the Noble Eightfold Path and entering a deep meditative state. It is a meditation through which we can experience true liberation of the soul while still living in this world. Only through this experience we can become free from the restrictions of our physical bodies and the restrictions of this material world, and find our true self – a being belonging to higher dimensions of the Spirit World. This state brings us great wisdom, freedom and bliss, and is one of the final objectives of self-reflection. It is a state of true happiness.
The power of self-reflection
We all make mistakes whilst living as human beings as we have been blessed with the freedom to do so. While many things in this world cannot be undone, what is in our mind can be washed away, as our mind encompasses past, present and future. If we reflect on our past with a pure heart, we will be able to wipe out all the records that have been written as losses in the “Thought Tape” or “Thought Belt.” This is a great power with which we have been endowed. Through self-reflection we can learn from our mistakes, release attachments, increase our enlightenment and allow our divine nature to shine brilliantly once again. Another aspect of self-reflection is to reach a state of mind that is calm and relaxed, thus, allowing us to communicate with our guardian or guiding spirits in the heavenly world and receive inspiration from them. Heaven and hell exist within our minds and the focus of our thoughts leads us to many worlds. Self-reflection is a way to fine-tune our mind like a compass needle to point towards and connect to the heavenly world.
The Fourfold Path
The Fourfold Path consists of four interrelated principles: the Principle of Love, the Principle of Wisdom; the Principle of Self-Reflection and the Principle of Progress.
The Principle of Love teaches people to love others. Whilst this teaching of love is connected to the Christian idea of “love thy neighbor”, it is also an equivalent of the philosophy of compassion that runs through the heart of Buddhism. The principle of love states that true love is “love that gives” and giving love without any expectation or condition is the starting point of happiness. It is a selfless love, detached from personal desires.
The Principal of Wisdom focuses on the importance of studying the Truth – the teaching which provides us an opportunity to know the mind of God (Buddha) and grasp the true meaning of life. This principle emphasizes the importance of gaining intellectual knowledge, which through practices and experience turns into wisdom. Wisdom helps us to cut through our worries and life’s problems, know right from wrong, and guide others onto the right path.
The Principal of Self-Reflection emphasizes the importance of correcting wrong thoughts and returning our mind to a clean state – a state where we can discover our Buddha-nature. Self-reflection taught at Happy Science is the Noble Eightfold Path restructured to suit modern society. Beginners though can approach self-reflection as a reflection on your morality. We all make mistakes; we have been blessed with the freedom to do so. This is allowed because we have the ability to correct these mistakes. We can’t turn back the clocks of time and repair a broken vase, but what happened in the mind can be undone. If you regret having done something wrong and reflect deeply on the deed in your mind, then the sin will be wiped from your past. This is the spiritual discipline of removing the stains and tarnishes that cover the mind and attuning it to the higher realms of heaven. By practicing self-reflection we can increase our awareness, polish our Divine or Buddha nature and protect ourselves from negative spiritual influences or possession.
The Principle of Progress focuses on success or happiness through positive action and development. Progress is the attitude to develop one-self to attain not only prosperity, but also happiness that spreads to others. It is to make constant efforts, use the given time wisely and discover something new each day. Ultimately, it is to strive to become a better person and create a Utopia – an ideal society – on Earth.
The Right mind is a prerequisite to return to heaven. We will not go far astray in life, if we live with a mind of:
- “Love” that lives in gentleness towards others,
- “Wisdom” that tries to know the mind of God (Buddha),
- “Self-reflection” that admits and apologizes sincerely to God (Buddha) and other people for mistaken thoughts and deeds,
- “Progress” that desires further development and happiness for all
If we always follow these four principles in life and persevere with The Exploration of the Right Mind, we will be able to return to heaven. These are the principles that assure genuine happiness when explored and practiced every day. The Exploration of the Right Mind is the practical expansion of the Fourfold Path.