Basics of Buddhism: The Noble Eightfold Path (Step One)January 18, 2021 | 28 Comments
Audio-only version is here.
Meditation practice begins at 19:43
Dear Open Heart Project,
Hello and happy new year! I am so glad we can practice together.
This video marks the first in an 8-video series called Basics of Buddhism: The Noble Eightfold Path. Today we will talk about the first step, Right View. Whether you are brand new to the Open Heart Project or not, this is a great place to begin (again). This video contains a 20-minute talk to introduce the eightfold path and discuss the first step, “Right View.” It concludes with a 10-minute guided breath awareness meditation. The next video in the series, “Right Intention” will arrive on February 1 and there will be a new video every two weeks until we have visited each of the eight steps. Please enjoy!
This is a bit about why I wanted to create this series (besides the fact that we need real insight, a deeper conversation, and connection to each other right now!):
We are so fortunate to live in a time when mindfulness and mindfulness meditation have lost any sense of wackadoo (for lack of a better word). When I started practicing in 1993, I had to explain so many things to family and friends: I am not in a cult. I am not a flake. This is not religious. I will not shave my head nor will I don flowing garments. (Not that there is anything wrong with those things!) It just had a sting of new age-y otherness that raised a lot of questions.
No longer. Over the last few decades, meditation practice has been studied by doctors, scientists, and researchers of all kinds. Collectively, they arrived at a single conclusion: Meditation is awesome. Thank you! “There’s real science behind this” is a line one hears quite frequently about meditation practice–and something about the scientific imprimatur has loosened our hesitations around this ancient practice.
Which is fantastic. However, there is no need to stop there or sacrifice meditation’s 2500–year history on the altar of self-improvement. BTW, yes to self-improvement! Yes to fixing problems! Yes to less stress! All of these things are truly fantastic and meditation has been demonstrated to support each of these aims.
But it is so much more than that. Meditation is also a spiritual practice.
Where self-improvement emphasizes repairing what is wrong with you, meditation begins with the premise that there is nothing wrong with you–and any ideas to the contrary are indications of confusion. You are already 100% worthy and whole because that’s the way you were born.
Rather than solving your problems, it shows you how to make space for them whereupon they (eventually) dissolve on their own accord.
And it teaches you that stress can be alleviated, not only by withdrawing from it, but, when that is impossible (seems to be the case right now!), by turning toward it, making space for it, and relaxing with it.
How does all this happen? Well, that is the question we visit in today’s video: How is it even possible that by sitting there basically doing nothing, I discover important truths, soften my heart, and become more fearless and genuine? Those are the deeper fruits of the practice, my friends! There are literally thousands of years of anecdotal and experiential wisdom that offer insight on these questions. We don’t have to excise it all. There is nothing remotely religious going on here. It’s actually quite pragmatic and accessible as I hope today’s video will show.
In this video, we start at the beginning with a (very) brief overview of the four noble truths, those insights that create the framework for all of Buddhism. The fourth truth is called The Eightfold Path (lots of numbers, I know) and the very first step on the path is called “Right View,” which I hope to explain. Let me know if I succeeded! Comments are always welcomed.
With this series, I invite you to take a deeper dive into the principles behind this practice to see what (if anything) they mean to you. I am delighted and honored to be your guide right now.
P.S. This series if free. Please forward to anyone you know who may find it useful. The sign up form is here.
P.P.P.S. Please join Michele Sapanaro; yoga teacher, Open Heart Project Sangha member (and trained meditation teacher) for our first-ever Yin Yoga workshop on January 31st. This program is $15.00 or free for Open Heart Project Sangha members.
You may sign up for the workshop here OR join the Open Heart Project Sangha here and participate in this and other programs for free. Programs include: classes with Susan on Buddhism, relationships, or the enneagram; a monthly live gathering with a guest teacher, a monthly 3-hour meditation intensive, online writing retreats, and more.
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