Sunday, October 4, 2009

Part Four: Wise Meditation and Wise Concentration

Here is the fourth and final post on the Buddha's Eight Fold Path encompassing the final two aspects of the Buddha's recommended path to reduce if not entirely escape suffering.

The oldest Buddhist texts, the Nikayas, contain other lists very similar to this list of eight. Other lists may include a different number of elements or sometimes the same elements will be arranged in a different order. The last two items are sometimes listed with concentration in the seventh place and meditation in the eighth.

I have found that concentration aids meditation. Without the ability to concentrate, my meditation can get pretty scattered. So lists that place concentration before meditation makes sense to me.

But I list them here as they're often seen with meditation in spot #7. The nice thing about ordering them with meditation before concentration is that you get a handy mnemonic device to help you remember the third through seventh parts of the 8FP.

The mnemonic device? SALEM.

S for Speech
A for Action
L for Livelihood
E for Effort, and
M for Meditation

When I was beginning on the path, it was very helpful for me to having a memory aid to help me bring to mind the various branches of the 8FP. So, with that in mind, I share it with you.

VII  Wise Meditation

What is Wise Meditation?

It is the release of all clinging.
It is awakening to the deathless and unborn.
This is Wise Meditation.

(Commentary: What is meant by the "deathless" and "unborn" could fill volumes. Perhaps a good place to begin would be to try to awaken fully to this eternally present, present moment, NOW.)

VIII   Wise Concentration

What is Wise Concentration?

It is the cultivation of onepointedness of mind.
It is the overcoming of the scattered mind.
This is Wise Concentration.

(Commentary: A highly concentrated mind is very peaceful. There can be an seductive/addictive quality to concentration and because of that possibility it is helpful to have a teacher guide you through deeper states of concentration.)


jinksy said...

'It is the overcoming of the scattered mind.'

Bloggers all would do well to heed this, if you don't mind my saying so! The still, center point is worth aiming for...

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Jinksy--

Overcoming a scattered mind is work for all of us, yes, bloggers, too. Learning to focus one's mind, and learning to stabilize that focus requires us to invest a lot of effort and commitment. But it is an investment that pays off.