March 29, 2010

Rebel8, The Eightfold Path: Part 4 of 8

Right Action

Right Action is the fourth aspect of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is the second of three aspects that concern themselves with ethical conduct. By practicing Right Action we are training ourselves to be morally upright, and we’re also being careful not to cause harm to others or ourselves through our actions. By practicing Right Action we begin to see how unwholesome actions lead to unwholesome states of mind, which perpetuate our day-to-day suffering.

Specifically, Right Action means that we abstain from harming or killing any living being (including ourselves), intentionally or otherwise. It also means that we don’t steal, commit fraud or be dishonest. Practicing Right Action is especially important in sexual matters. The Cunda Kammaraputta Sutta breaks it down further, stating that one should not get involved with people “who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man.” Personally, I take that to mean that I don’t pursue women that are underage, women that still live with their families, or women that are married or in monogamous relationships. Simple as that.

My decision to be a vegetarian is rooted in my practice of Right Action as well. In this modern world, it isn’t necessary for me to consume the flesh of a murdered beast, so I don’t. I stopped eating flying and walking animals in 1992. I am still all too aware of the suffering felt by animals on factory farms and feedlots to even consider eating their flesh. I did occasionally ate fish as I felt my body needed it until last year. I no longer eat it.

I think it’s important to mention that, as with any of this stuff I’m writing, you need to find the truth in the Eightfold Path for yourself by living it and breathing it and acting on it. This stuff doesn’t mean shit if you just read about it. And it’s cool to ignore all this Buddhist mumbo-jumbo too. Find your own way. We all end up at the same place anyway…

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