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.

Love, Susan

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.S. This article gives a great over view of the eightfold path. And this is excellent.

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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28 Comments

  • Posted by:  Alison Carter-Goulden

    Thank you so much Susan. I’ve heard you teach right view numerous times and each time it blows my mind a little bit more. I found that teaching deeply moving and I’m so grateful to you for having been a guiding light to me for so many years, and for what you offer to the world.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Alison, this message touches me so much. Thank you for taking the time to send it. I am grateful to you, as well. Together we complete a loop that would remain open if one of us did not show up… With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Sandy Betz

    I am really grateful for this teaching, Susan. You iterated it so eloquently but simply. Thank you.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      This makes my day, Sandy! Thank you. <3 S

  • Posted by:  April

    You are the best teacher I personally have ever encountered. So grateful!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      April!!! What lovely words, thank you, thank you. Sending love. xo S

  • Posted by:  Carolyn WarmSun

    Susan, I sit here with tears in my eyes with such love for your teachings and your heart. My only regret in “meeting” you is that it took 78 years, you have so much wisdom to share, and I have such little time left. But, yes, of course, with great gratitude that I did finally find meditation, Buddhism, and you.

    Thank you with all my heart.
    Carolyn

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Carolyn, now I have tears in my eyes. I am so happy we have finally met and are able to practice together. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Jodi Crane

    I appreciate you!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Ditto! <3 S

  • Posted by:  Shiwa Chotso (Sue)

    As many times as I have heard and read teachings on the Eight-fold Path, each time adds a new thread to the tapestry of understanding. I also find that considering “right” as “wise” also has meaning for me and might avoid the trap of “correct.” Thank you as always for your wisdom and grace.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Love, always, Shiwa/Sue!

      • Posted by:  Sue May

        I had a bit of a “doh!” moment when contemplating suffering recently. My husband has habitual grouchiness, finding small irritations in daily life. I have (also habitually) felt dissatisfaction about this, feeling that it injects a bit of poison into the air around us. My moment of realization provoked an awareness of the absurdity of this – I was suffering because of his suffering, and it is within me to flip that suffering into compassion. This is a lesson that I have to relearn daily sometimes, but the air is clearer now. It’s always good to go back to the Four Noble Truths. Word.

        • Posted by:  Susan Piver

          YES!!! Love always, Susan

  • Posted by:  Shannon

    Susan, Thank you ❤️ I have to admit, I joined for some download or something… today’s first installment of the Eightfold Path was just what I needed! I’m so glad I realized what I was missing… Gratitude 🙏

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad to hear it! Thanks for the comment and keep me posted! <3 S

  • Posted by:  Sher

    Susan, I have come across your work so frequently, and each time I say to myself “there is something different about this lady” because you communicate the lessons of Buddhism in a way that is less complicated than elsewhere …it’s accessible and ‘real’ somehow. I ‘get it’…and this after at least 30 years of dipping my toes in this cool pool…I’m so grateful to you, and want to congratulate you on creating something very necessary and doing it so beautifully. Much love for you!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Sher!!!! This means the world to me. Thank you, thank you. So very happy we are on the path together. Much love for you! Susan

  • Posted by:  Kim Berggren

    Your way of teaching is needed by us in the west. I am convinced that we need westerners to teach westerners in a way we can understand and feel connected to. Thank you!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You are so welcome! Very happy to study these teachings together. With love, Susan

  • Posted by:  Tom Lipinski

    Susan, thank you for bringing this message to the community. I always get so much from the way you share a message. It’s easy to understand, spoken in my language.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      So glad to hear it, Tom! Warmly, S

  • Posted by:  heide

    I am a MS PE teacher teaching virtual (again) and ABSOLUTELY LOVE your STYLE of teaching! From the 10% happier New Year challenge you had TWO that resonated; breathe is a hammock for our brains!! (just brrrrilliant and one I shared with my MS kiddos) and also that your HEART is like a disco ball refracting light to all those around!! POSSIBLY my FAVORITE and explains why I have a LARGE DISCO BALL both in our school gym and also my chicken coop!!! 😉 ha! Such a GREAT VISUAL to the power of LOVE!! 🙂 🙂
    I’ve also just created a SCHOOL WELLNESS WEBSITE that I hope to add some of your resources to for our kiddos and parents to explore and be curious about! 🙂 🙂 So glad I found you & your site and LOOOVE LEARNING from you!

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      Loved reading every word of this!!!! Stay in touch and keep that disco ball spinning… xo S

  • Posted by:  Essie Reilly

    So grateful for your offering this amazing teaching and meditation opportunity.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      I couldn’t do it without you! Very grateful to you, as well. May your practice and study be blessed. Warmly, S

  • Posted by:  Isil Uysal Calvelli

    Dear Susan, thank you for this teaching. I am grateful to your presence and teaching always in a fresh way. I have heard you speaking of The Noble Eightfold path before but this one was new. Learning meditation and Buddhism from you has changed my life. I know the teachings are profound. But learning the teachings from you adds another level. I can see genuineness, open heartedness, taking your seat, being here, being sharp on action. Thank you. And I want to say this comment section is the best comment section of the world. Love to all who took time to comment.

    • Posted by:  Susan Piver

      You bring so much light and joy, Isil!!! I am deeply grateful we are on the path together!! Love, S

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