The Practice Of The Dhamma On The Eightfold Path

The first Buddhist monks

Disciples of the Buddha Paying Respects to the Wheel of Dhamma

by Jayaram V

This article expalins how a monk practices morality and Dhamma in Buddhism on the Eightfold Path observing the code of conduct after he is initiated on the path and  after he renounces worldly pleasures. It speaks of  the virtues he should cultivate and the monastic discipline he needs to follow in order to complete his journey.


The Practice of Morality

After discarding all his worldly possessions, the initiate starts his life as a monk by observing the rules applicable to the monastic life with an aim to cultivate virtues, practice detachment, cultivate a clear and tranquil mind to become free from the cycle of births and deaths.

He practices morality in many ways.

He avoids killing of living beings.

He develops sympathy and concern for the welfare of all living beings.

He avoids stealing. He refrains from taking what is not given to him. He takes only that which is given to him, and waits till it is given to him.

He lives with a pure and honest heart.

He avoids unchastity, lives a chaste life, is resigned, and stays away from the "vulgar types" of sexual intercourse.

He avoids all forms of lying. He speaks only truth, having become devoted to it.

He does not indulge in the deception of men.

He avoids carrying tales from one person to another.

What he hears at one place he does not repeat it else where so as to cause conflicts and disturbance.

He thus unites people who are divided and encourages those who are already united to have better concord.

Concord makes him happy and it is concord that he spreads by his words.

He avoids the use of harsh language. He speaks only those words that are gentle, soothing to listen, loving, touch the heart, courteous and pleasant, and agreeable to many.

He avoids vain talk, speaking only when appropriate, as per the facts, speaking what is useful and about the Initiate His speech is very precious, which comes at the right moment, supported by arguments, moderate and very sensible.

He stays away from dance, song, music and the visiting of shows.

He does not accept flowers, perfumes, ointments, or any kind of ornament or embellishment.

He does not sleep on high and ostentatious beds.

He does not accept gold and silver, or raw corn and meat, or women and girls.

He does not own male or female slaves, or goats, sheep, fowls, pigs, elephants, cows or horses, or land and goods.

He does not go on errands or act like a messenger. He refrains from buying and selling things.

He does not approve false measures, metals and weights.

He does not indulge in the crooked methods of bribery, deception and fraud.

He is aloof from stabbing, beating, chaining, attacking, plundering and oppressing.

He is content with the robe that protects his body and the alms that keeps him alive.

Wherever he goes he carries these two with him, like the winged birds that carries its wings.

By observing these rules of morality, he attains in his heart undisturbed happiness.

While perceiving the objects with his senses, the monk pays attention neither to the whole object nor to its details.

He tries to avoid that which might lead to evil, sin and triviality, when ones senses are unguarded, such as greed and sorrow.

He therefore keeps a full watch on his sensea and keeps them under firm control. By practicing the control of his senses, he experiences pure happiness.

Practicing mindfulness and clear consciousness

He is clearly conscious in the movements of his body and mind.

He is clearly conscious of his body movements, of its going and coming, of its looking forward and backward, of its bending and stretching, of its eating, drinking, chewing and tasting, and various other activities.

Having developed the lofty morality, control of the senses, and the noble quality of attentiveness and clear mindedness, he now selects a secluded spot in the forest, or the foot of a tree, a mountain, a cleft in a rock, a cave, a burial ground, a woody plain, open air, or a heap of straw.

Every day, after completing his round of begging for alms, he returns to this place and sits there cross legged, keeping his body erect, with attentiveness firmly fixed in front of him.

He cleanses his heart by overcoming the five hindrances, namely the hindrances of lust, ill-will, torpor and dullness, restlessness, mental worry and doubt.

The Experience of the Trances

After overcoming the five hindrances, he realizes the paralyzing perversions of the mind. And leaving behind all the sense impressions and unworthy things, he enters into the Four Trances.

Insight

He regards all feelings, perceptions, mental formations or consciousness as impermanent, subject to pain, as an enemy, or devoid of ego, etc.

Thus turning away from them, he keeps his mind fixed on the thoughts of peace and such thoughts that lead him to the attainment of a passionless or impassionate state.

Nirvana

Freed from sensual passion, from the passion for existence, from the passion of ignorance, his heart becomes free.

He becomes aware of the knowledge of his freedom as he realizes that his rebirth is exhausted, his holy life is fulfilled, that whatever was to be done was done and that there was nothing further to be done.

He realizes that he is liberated forever and that no new existence awaits him.

This is the highest realization, the holiest wisdom to know, which is to wash away all suffering.

Verily, this is the highest and the holiest wisdom, the complete sublimation of greed, hatred and delusion.

With the attainment of it all suffering passes away.

The Silent Thinker

The vain thoughts are many. For example: "I am" is a vain thought;  "I am not" is a vain thought; "I shall be" is a vain thought; "I shall not be" is a vain thought.

The monk has to overcome these vain thoughts through the above mentioned practices and when he succeeds in that he becomes a Silent Thinker.

And the Silent Thinker "does no more arise, no more pass away, no more tremble, no more desire." He becomes free from birth, old age, death and desires.

The True Goal

The real object or the real essence of Holy Life is the "unshakeable deliverance of the heart". It is not meant for gathering alms, or honor, or fame, or morality, or concentration, or the eye of wisdom.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Image Attribution: The images of the heaven and Buddhist deities used in this article are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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