A Brief Outline of Buddhism

by U Po Sa | 1955 | 19,923 words

A.T.M.,B.A.,B.C.S. (1), F.R.E.S. Author of Ashin Anuraddha's Abhidhammathasangaha in Pali & Burmese...

Chapter 4 - The Middle Path

The Buddha was endowed with Divine eye and Divine ear. He also possessed in the main nine high qualities. He is devoid of greed, hate and ignorance; He is the All enlightened One, endowed with supreme knowledge and the best conduct; and is of Auspicious Coming, He is the Knower of universe, and is Supreme in taming man. He is besides the Teacher of gods and men, Omniscient and Blessed

He, preached His Doctrine for forty five years and on the full moon day of the fourth month of Burmese Calendar 589 B.C. He preached the first sermon which was on the middle Path which lies between the two extremes, to wit, that conjoined with self torture and painful, both of which are ignoble and useless. The Middle Path between these two extremes is the Noble Eightfold Path, namely, Right Belief, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Right Belief is the realization of the Four Noble Truths, namely, "this is pain, this is the cause of pain; this is the cessation of pain and this is the way that leads to cessation of pain.

Right Thought means the thought which is not connected with sensual desire and is free from anger and is full of mercy.

Right Speech signifies abstaining from falsehood words that cause hate and that are harsh and profane and also from saying anything which is of no benefit.

Right Action is abstaining from taking life, committing theft and adultery.

Right Livelihood is abstaining from the mode of life which involves wrong speech and wrong action and also from trading in weapons, in living beings, in meat, in fish and in poison.

Right Effort is fourfold, to wit, the effort when no immoral thought has arisen, to avoid any immoral thought; when immoral thought has arisen, to get rid of that immoral thought; when the moral thought has not arisen, to endeavour that the moral thought may arise; and when the moral thought has arisen, to develop the moral thought.

Right Mindfulness is the mindfulness on the body of any part of the body, also mindfulness on feelings, mindfulness on mind and mindfulness on thought.

Right Concentration is of four stages. The first stage is in the trance of joy and pleasure free from passions and evil thoughts. The second stage is the trance of joy and pleasure free from reasoning and investigation. The third stage is the trance with equanimity and indifference towards joy and pleasure. The fourth stage is the trance with no pleasure and no pain but with the purity of mindfulness and equanimity.

It must be noted that all the precepts should be within the ambit of the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddhas Message to men and gods bent on attaining salvation is to observe precept and practice morality and then to concentrate and meditate in order to acquire higher thought and thus attain higher wisdom, insight, and Fruition.

Right Belief and Right Thought constitute Higher Wisdom, Insight and Fruition. Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration form the Higher Concentration and Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood form the Higher Precepts. This is according to Canonical Text. Later on, there were written Commentaries on the Canonical Text and in these Commentaries, besides the above is commended the learning of the Canonical Text by heart.

It must be noted that Charity, Observance of Precepts, and Practice of Mental Culture exist in the world perpetually. The Buddha adds Right Concentration and Fruition to this perpetual message, by which the Highest Spiritual Achievement is brought within the reach of man.

For a worldling or rather a non Elect this Noble Eightfold Path is the best guide because it is the only Path that leads to Transcendental Summum Bonum (Nibbana) and whoever goes astray is said to be the one who has missed the Path. In the Great Discourse on the Four Stations of Awareness or Mindfulness (sati), the Buddha distinctly and unequivocally laid down that the only Path that leads to the goal of purification of beings for passing beyond grief and lamentation, for the ending of pain and misery, for the obtaining of Truth, for the realization of Nibbana is the Four Stations of Awareness or Mindfulness. The Awareness or Mindfulness here referred to is exactly the Right Mindfulness of the Noble Eightfold Path. A worldling is liable to miss the Path but an Elect is not liable nay, not capable of missing it.

In Pali it is called Magginga which is a Pali compound of magga +inga. Magga means path and inga means constituent. In the Canonical Text it is often called Constituents of the Path which an Elect automatically and naturally observes. The worldling must of course practise virtue and concentration and meditation according to the Noble Eightfold Path to become an Elect.

The great importance of the Middle Path or rather the Noble Eightfold Path in Buddhism cannot be over emphasised. It is so important that it is often called" The Message of Buddhism" in spite of the fact that The Buddhas Messages are, as mentioned previously, in thirty one books. Really it is the "MESSAGE of BUDDHISM".

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