the eightfold path

Zen and Buddhism

Zen is a line of Buddhism. All Zen is Buddhism, but not all Buddhism is Zen. Zen comes from the term zazen, which is Japanese for meditation.

There are lots of Buddhist practices. Zen is the practice of realizing just what the Buddha realized, which is the way to stop suffering.

If you want to know Zen, study a mirror until you don’t know which side you are on. If you want to know Buddhism study the life of the Buddha.

Zen is fun because it has crazy methods to try to help you get beyond your thinking and feel the fundamental joy of life. Buddhism is fun because it teaches the same thing.

My teacher told me that if anybody asks me what Zen is, I should just hit the floor twice, thwat, thwat. If you get into a Zen practice, that could make a little sense.

All Buddhism teaches that life contains suffering, there is a cause of suffering, an end to suffering and there is a way to end suffering. Those are called the Four Noble Truths. The way to end suffering is the Eightfold Path, which is right speech, right thought, right livelihood, right intention, right action, right effort, right concentration and right view.

There are a billion ways to interpret what is right and how to follow the path.

The underlying idea is that we are something more than what we think we are. We are something less than we think we are. We are not what we think we are. We are exactly what we think we are. When we realize that, there is nothing to cause us suffering.

The Buddha’s First Teaching

‘Hundreds of years ago, under a sacred fig tree in Bodh Gaya, India, the Buddha woke up; he realized deep awakening. His first thought upon awakening was the realization that every living being has this capacity to wake up. He wanted to create a path that would help others realize insight and enlightenment. The Buddha did not want to create a religion. To follow a path you don’t have to believe in a creator.

After the Buddha was enlightened, he enjoyed sitting under the Bodhi tree, doing walking meditation along the banks of the Neranjara River, and visiting a nearby lotus pond. The children from nearby Uruvela village would come to visit him. He sat and ate fruit with them and gave them teachings in the form of stories. he wanted to share his experience of practice and awakening with his closest five friends and old partners in practice. He heard they were now living in the Deer Park near Benares. It took him about two weeks to walk from Bodh Gaya to the Deer Park, I imagine he enjoyed every step.

In his very first teaching to his five friends, the Buddha talked about the path of ethics. He said that the path to insight and enlightenment was the noble eightfold path, also called the eight ways of correct practice. The eightfold path is the fourth of the Buddha’s four noble truths. If we understand the four noble truths and use their insight to inform our actions in our daily lives, then we are on the path to peace and happiness.’

- Thich Nhat Hanh, Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society.

L’s Book of Shadows Index

So I’ve seen a few posts about how to organize your Book of Shadows and I thought I would share with you guys how I organize my Book!

I have both a physical and a digital Book of Shadows. I have both divided into “Books” similar to how the Christian Bible is. My physical Book is made up of eight “Books” while my digital Book is divided into twenty-three “Books.” Much of the information is the same, it is just divided up differently. For the sake of a shorter post, if a Book in my digital Book has additional info, I’ve listed it and marked it (digital). 

This type of formatting was inspired by one of the first Wiccan books I ever read, “A Wiccan Bible” by A.J. Drew, in which each Chapter is called a “Book.”

In the beginning of my Book of Shadows I have my dedication, my title page, my Book blessing, the Witches Blessing, and a quote by Silver Ravenwolf. After that, the eight sections I have my Book divided into are:

  • The Book of Wisdom
  • The Book of the Sun
  • The Book of the Moon
  • The Book of the Stars
  • The Book of the Earth
  • The Book of Practical Magick
  • The Book of Magick
  • The Book of the Divine

Keep reading

The Noble Eightfold Path:

or at least how I explain it.


1. Right View

Always seeing the world exactly as it is; there will be pain, there will be suffering, there will be death. And that is okay.

2. Right Intention

Always living with the best intentions, free from ill will.

(ethical conduct)

3. Right Speech

Never using speech to intentionally hurt others. Always thinking of how your words might affect others. No lying, bullying, or hate speech.

4. Right Action

Taking action to be a better person and never harm others. No stealing, no killing or harming living beings, no misconduct or over indulgence of sex, drugs, or alcohol.

5. Right Livelihood

Don’t live in a way, or take part in activities or occupations, that will cause direct or indirect harm to other living beings. (that’s right people, no circuses)


6. Right Effort

Always putting effort into being a better person and making the world a better place, and never giving up on that.

7. Right Mindfulness

Always being the best you can be for YOURSELF. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally and always showing yourself love and compassion.

8. Right Concentration

Focusing all your energy into reaching enlightenment, concentrating on being the best version of yourself and doing all you can to make your time here on this planet count. Always concentrating on radiating positivity.

All Moments Are Equally Precious

‘The Buddha’s Eightfold Path can either build upon or dismantle the sense-of-self, depending upon how we use it. When aligned within its proper orientation, the path appears like a perfectly formed diamond, each facet complimenting the beauty of the whole. After my meeting with Nisargadatta, the Buddha’s teaching became breathtaking in its simplicity and elegance. The entire path was, and had always been, accessible. prolonged retreats in silence or conversations over dinner had the same reference point. Nothing was ever at odds with its opposite. Every practice and action has its place and appropriate time, but never contradicted or enhanced what was already there. Everything was perfectly together, and every moment arose from that perfection.

This was the beginning of my understanding of lay Buddhism. A lay Buddhist is one who fully embodies his or her entire life of work, family, and relationships without spiritually prioritizing any activity. From this perspective all moments are equally precious, and whether we are practicing formal meditation on retreat or showing up for ordinary moments of our lay life, freedom is never diminished. The unequivocal resolve not to move away from where we are is essential. Once we abandon the belief that there is a more spiritually useful moment than the one we are in, we have embraced our life and infused it with the energy for awakening.’

- Rodney Smith, Undivided Mind, from the Winter 2010 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Honestly Buddhism came into my life at the perfect time.
It frees my mind from anger and allows me to have compassion for everyone, even those who have hurt me.
It helped me finally come to terms with my disabled body, love myself, and not hate my illnesses.
It makes me want to continue growing and live a more honest life.


The embrace of

the eight-spoked wheel this body

wraps round like chain of ivy,

I bled ashes until you asked

Weightlessness from me. 

I drifted into a soundless meadow, a 

purple cave, a 

silence crystallizing like salt to the

Dead Sea. 

Mala is a strand of 108 beads, but I 

count breaths instead. 

- meditation #11

The Noble Eightfold Path/Dharmachakra wheel

Right vision, or understanding: understanding that life always involves change and suffering; realising that following the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to overcome suffering and be really happy.

Right emotion: commiting oneself to wholeheartedly following the path.

Right speech: speaking in a positive and helpful way; speaking the truth.

Right action: living an ethical life acording to the precepts.

Right livelihood: doing work that doesn’t harm others and is helpful to them.

Right effort: thinking in a kindly and positive way.

Right mindfulness: being fully aware of oneself, other people, and the world around you.

Right meditation, or concentration: training the mind to be calm and positive in order to develop Wisdom.

oroincensoemirra  asked:

Thanks! :) I read that you have a Buddhist philosophy! has always intrigued me a lot! talk to me about?

A brief description about Buddhism:

Essentially it is a philosophy provides teachings for on to take on a spiritual path to reach a state of enlightenment. There is no theology, no worship of a deity or deification of the Buddha. In Buddhism time is not devoted to a god but to yourself, to improve your state of mind through all its teachings.

  • Brief history:
    Origin- northern India.
    The founder, Siddhartha Gautama, was born in a royal family which kept him distant from the true suffering that was occurring behind the walls of their palace. So when one day he decided to step out into the real world he saw each for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. This lead to a point of clarity and realisation that sickness, death, and age are all inevitable and destroyed his old, privileged, mentality. He soon decided to leave his royal life, his wife and child, and turn to a simple holy life. For six years, Siddhartha lived a life of extreme asceticism which was still not enough for his spiritual journey. Therefore he lived a life neither of royalty nor of poverty. One day he became completely absorbed in meditation that he reached a point of enlightenment. Brahma suggested that this state should be shared for others to experience and therefore Siddhartha became a teacher and a motion started a wheel of teaching. (More about history x and x)

  • Spiritual teachings:
    The four noble truths-
    1. Human life is full of suffering
    2. Suffering stems from craving pleasure and avoidance of pain
    3. Suffering can be eradicated
    4. The path of freedom from suffering is the path of enlightenment.
    The three universal truths- 
    1. Nothing is lost in the universe: (Anicca)
    The first truth is that nothing is lost in the universe. Matter turns into energy, energy turns into matter. A dead leaf turns into soil. A seed sprouts and becomes a new plant. We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people. We consist of that which is around us. Understanding this truth, the Buddha and his disciples never killed any animal.
    2. Everything Changes:(Dukkha)
    The second universal truth of the Buddha is that everything is continuously changing. Life is like a river flowing on and on, ever-changing. Our ideas about life also change. People once believed that the world was flat, but now we know that it is round.
    3. Law of Cause and Effect:(Anatta)
    The third universal truth explained by the Buddha is that there is continuous changes due to the law of cause and effect. This is the same law of cause and effect found in every modern science textbook. In this way, science and Buddhism are alike.
    The law of cause and effect is known as karma.Nothing ever happens to us unless we deserves it. We receive exactly what we earn. Although this concept is encountered in many other religions it has different meanings. In Buddhism karma has implications beyond this life. Bad actions in previous lives can follow the individual through future lives. Even an Enlightened One is not exempt from the effects of past karma. Every action we take molds our characters for the future. Both positive and negative traits can become magnified over time as we fall into habits. 
    The noble Eightfold path:
    The beautiful symbol of the wheel (picture below) with its eight spokes represents the Noble Eightfold Path. The Buddha’s teaching goes round and round like a great wheel that never stops, leading to the central point of the wheel, the only point which is fixed, Nirvana. 
    1. Right View. The right way to think about life is to see the world through the eyes of the Buddha–with wisdom and compassion.
    2. Right Thought. We are what we think. Clear and kind thoughts build good, strong characters.
    3. Right Speech. By speaking kind and helpful words, we are respected and trusted by everyone.
    4. Right Conduct. No matter what we say, others know us from the way we behave. Before we criticize others, we should first see what we do ourselves.
    5. Right Livelihood. This means choosing a job that does not hurt others. The Buddha said, “Do not earn your living by harming others. Do not seek happiness by making others unhappy.”
    6. Right Effort. A worthwhile life means doing our best at all times and having good will toward others. This also means not wasting effort on things that harm ourselves and others.
    7. Right Mindfulness. This means being aware of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
    8. Right Concentration. Focus on one thought or object at a time. By doing this, we can be quiet and attain true peace of mind.
    The Three Refuges (The Triple Jewel) -
    A refuge is a place to go for safety and protection. Taking refuge does not mean running away from life. It means living life in a fuller, truer way. Sometimes we need guidance in our paths that is why we have the Triple Jewel: The Buddha is the guide.The Dharma is the path.The Sangha are the teachers or companions along the way.  
    The Five precepts (ethics): 
    1. No killing - The Buddha said, “Life is dear to all beings. They have the right to live the same as we do.” We should respect all forms of life.
    2. No Stealing -  we should learn to give and take care of things that belong to our family, school, or the public.
    3. No sexual misconduct -  not causing harm to oneself or others in the area of sexual activity.
    4. No lying - Avoiding misunderstanding by being honest, this precept includes no gossip, no back-biting, no harsh words and no idle speech.
    5. No intoxications -  Mindfulness is a fundamental quality to be developed the Buddha’s path, and experience shows that taking intoxicating drink or drugs tends to run directly counter to this.
    The Wheel of life:
    In Buddhism death does not mean the end of life.. When one dies, one’s consciousness leaves and enters one of the six paths of rebirth. There are six states on the wheel of life. (More information here and here)

If you’re overwhelmed by all this information just remember this … 
Once a very old king went to see an old hermit who lived in a bird’s nest in the top of a tree, “What is the most important Buddhist teaching?” The hermit answered, “Do no evil, do only good. Purify your heart.” The king had expected to hear a very long explanation. He protested, “But even a five-year old child can understand that!” “Yes,” replied the wise sage, “but even an 80-year-old man cannot do it.“ 

Please understand that there are many different types of Buddhism. The teachings have been adapted to suit the said culture as time progresses, however they all have many common teachings. I tried to be as general as possible and to link as much as possible for further information.  Since Buddhism is a philosophy, and like other philosophies, it can be interpreted in a different way by everyone therefore if i said something which offended you I appologise and i take responsibility. I understand this can be an important subject for many so i did my best to be careful not to sound rude. I am in now way trying to feed you all this information as a way of ‘brainwashing’ anyone but only to provide information as asked by oroincensoemirra  and many others. xxx

Other links:
My primary source

- Much love, Amy

Alan Watts on the 4 Noble Truths and the 8-Fold Path

WARNING: Very long.

The first Noble Truth is duhkha, which in a very generalized sense means suffering. You could as easily say it means chronic frustration. Life as lived by most people is duhkha. It is, in other words, an attempt to solve insoluble problems, to draw a square circle, to have light without dark or dark without light. The attempt to solve problems that are basically insoluble, and to work at them through your whole life, is duhkha.

Buddha went on to subdivide this The First Noble Truth into the Three Signs of Being.

The first sign is duhkha itself, frustration.

The second is anitya, impermanence. Every manifestation of life is impermanent. Our quest to make things permanent, to straighten everything out and get it fixed, presents us with an impossible and insoluble problem, and therefore we experience duhkha, the sense of fundamental pain and frustration that results from trying to make impermanent things permanent.

The third Sign of Being is anatman. The word atman means “self.” Anatman means “nonself.” I have explained elsewhere-in talking about Hinduism-that the idea of the ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word water is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid reality without being it, so too the idea of the ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism. Your ego has absolutely nothing to do with the way you color your eyes, shape your body, or circulate your blood. That is the real you, and it is certainly not your ego, because you do not even know how it is done. So anatman means, first, that the ego is unreal; there isn’t one.

This brings us to the second of the Four Noble Truths, which is called trishna. Trishna is a Sanskrit word and the root of our word thirst. It is usually translated “desire,” but it is better translated as “clinging,” “grabbing,” or to use excellent modern American slang, “a hang-up.”

That is exactly what trishna is: a hang-up. When a mother is so afraid that her children may get into trouble that she protects them excessively, and as a result prevents them from growing, that is trishna. When lovers cling to each other excessively and feel they have to sign documents that they will swear to love each other always, they are in a state of trishna. When you hold on to yourself so tightly that you strangle yourself, that is trishna.

The second Noble Truth leads back to the first: clinging is what makes for suffering. When you fail to recognize that this whole world is a phantasmagoria, an amazing illusion, a weaving of smoke, and you try to hold on to it, then you will suffer seriously. Trishna is itself based on avidya. Avidya is ignorance, and it means to ignore or overlook. We notice only what we think noteworthy, and so we ignore all kinds of things. Our vision of reality is highly selective; we pick out a few things and say that they are the universe. In the same way, we select and notice the figure rather than the background. Ordinarily, for instance, when I draw a circle on the blackboard, people see a ball, a circle, or a ring. But I have drawn a wall with a hole in it. You see? Similarly, we think we can have pleasure without pain. We want pleasure, the figure, and do not realize that pain is the background. Avidya is this state of restricted consciousness, or restricted attention. Bound by that state, we move through life, concentrating on one extreme or another, unaware of the fact that “to be” implies “not to be,” and vice versa.

The third Noble Truth is called nirvana. This word means “exhale.” You know that breath is life, and the Greek word pneuma conveys this same idea. It can mean either breath or spirit. In the Book of Genesis, when God had made the clay figurine that was later to be Adam, He breathed the breath of life into its nostrils and it became alive. Life is breath; but if you hold your breath you will lose your life. He who would save his life must lose it. Breathe in, in, in, get as much life as you can, and if you cling to it, you lose it. So nirvana means to breathe out: it is a great sigh of relief. Let the breath of life go because it will come back to you if you do. But if you do not let it go you will suffocate. A person in the state of nirvana is in a state of exhalation. Let go, don’t cling, and you will be in the state of nirvana.

I reemphasize that l am not preaching to you about what you ought to do with your life. I am simply pointing out the state of affairs of the world as it is. There is no moralism in this whatsoever. If you put your hand into a fire, you will get burned. It is all right to get burned if you want to, but if it so happens that you do not want to get burned, then don’t put your hand in a fire. It is the same if you do not want to be in a state of anxiety. It is perfectly all right to be anxious, if you like to be anxious. Buddhism never hurries anyone. It says, “You’ve got all eternity to live in various forms, therefore you do not have just one life in which to avoid eternal damnation. You can go running around the wheel in the rat race just as long as you want, so long as you think it’s fun. And if there comes a time when you no longer think it’s fun to be anxious, you don’t have to continue.” Someone who disagrees with this may say, “We ought to engage the forces of evil in battle and put this world to right, and arrange everything in it so that everything is good and nothing is bad.” Try it, please. It is perfectly okay to try. And if you discover that these attempts are futile, you can then let go. You can give up clinging. Relax in that way and you will be in the state of nirvana. You will become a buddha. Of course, that will make you a rather astonishing person, although you may be subtle about it and disguise your buddhahood so that you will not get people mixed up.

The Buddha explained that his doctrine or method was a raft, sometimes called a yana, meaning a vehicle or conveyance. When you cross a river on a raft and you get to the other shore, you do not pick up the raft and carry it on your back. People who are hooked on religion are always on the raft. They are going back and forth and back and forth on the raft. The clergyman tends to become a ferryman who is always on the raft and never gets over to the other shore. There is something to be said for that, of course. How else are we to get the raft back to the first shore to bring over more people? Somebody has to volunteer to make the return journey. But one must realize that the real objective is to get the people across and set them free. If you dedicate yourself to ferrying people across, do not ask them to come back on the raft with you. People must not think that the raft is the goal; they must understand that it is simply a conveyance to the other shore, which is the real goal. When clergymen say, “We would like your pledge, your voluntary contribution,” and nobody knows how much money to give, that is attachment to the idea of the raft.

We come now to the fourth Noble Truth, which is called marga. This word means “path.” The way of Buddhism is often called the Noble Eightfold Path because of the eight methods or practices that are components of this last noble truth. These eight steps can be divided into three phases. They are not sequential and so do not need to be followed in any particular order. They are described by the word samyak, which, though it is usually translated as meaning “right,” is actually the same, really, as our word sum: total, complete, all-inclusive. We might also use the word integrated-as when we say a person has integrity, is all of a piece, is not divided against himself-as a synonym for samyak.

The first phase of the eightfold path of the fourth Noble Truth consists of three components: right view, right consideration, and right speech. Right view, samyak drishti, is related to samyak darshan, which means a point of view, or a viewing. When you go to visit a great guru or teacher to have darshan, you look at him and offer your reverence to him. Darshan has many senses, but it means, simply, to view, or to look at the view.

As an example of right view, let us consider the right view of the constellation called the Big Dipper. When we look out from our specific, earthly point in space, it seems that the stars that form the Big Dipper must naturally form it, and always will. But imagine looking at them from somewhere else in space altogether. Those stars would not look like a dipper. They would be in an altogether different position relative to each other. What is the true relationship of those stars, then? There isn’t one? Or else you could say that the true view of those stars would be their relationship when looked at from all points of view simultaneously. That would be the truth. But there is no such thing as the truth. The world, in other words, does not exist independently of those who witness it. Its existence derives from the existence of a relationship between the world and its witnesses. So if there are no eyes in this world, the sun doesn’t make any light, nor do the stars. That which is, is a relationship. You can, for example, prop up two sticks by leaning them against each other. They will stand, but only by depending on each other. Take one away and the other falls. So in Buddhism it is taught that everything in this universe depends on everything else.

This is called the Doctrine of Mutual Interdependence. Everything hangs on you and you hang on everything, just as the two sticks support each other. This idea is conveyed in the symbol of Indra’s net. Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web covered with dewdrops. Every dewdrop contains the reflection of all the other dewdrops, and in each reflected dewdrop are the reflections of all the other dewdrops in that reflection, and so on, ad infinitum. That is the image of the Buddhist conception of the universe. The Japanese call that ji ji muge. Ii means a thing, event, or happening. Muge means “no separation.” So, between happening and happening there is no separation: ji ji muge.

The second phase of the fourth Noble Truth has to do with action. It consists of three more paths: the paths of right action, right livelihood, and right effort. The Buddhist idea of ethics is based on expediency. If you are engaged in the way of liberation and you want to clarify your consciousness, your actions must be consistent with that goal. To this end, every Buddhist takes comfort in three refuges and makes five vows.

The Three Refuges are the Buddha; the dharma, or doctrine; and the sangha, or the fellowship of all those who are on the way. The Five Precepts are to undertake to abstain from taking life, from taking what is not given, from exploiting the passions, from falsifying speech, and from being intoxicated.

If you kill people you have to become involved in the consequences of that action. If you steal you have to suffer attachment to the consequences of that action. If you exploit your passions you must pay the consequences of that. A lot of people who suffer from obesity are trying simply to fill their empty psyche by stuffing themselves with food, but it is the wrong cure. If you start lying, you will become involved with the consequences of that action. speech will collapse. So these five precepts represent a purely practical and utilitarian approach to mortality.

The last phase of the Eightfold Path concerns the mind, or its state of consciousness, and has to do with what we would ordinarily call meditation. In this phase are the two final aspects of the path, the seventh and eighth. They are called samyak smriti and samyak samadhi.

Smriti means recollection or mindfulness. The word re-collect means to gather together what has been scattered. The opposite of “remember” is obviously “dismember.” What has been chopped up and scattered becomes re-membered. In the Christian scheme- “Do this in remembrance of me”-the Christ has been sacrificed and chopped up, and the mass is a ritual of remembrance. One of the old liturgies says that the wheat that has been scattered all over the hills and then grows is gathered again into the bread, i.e., re-membered. In the Hindu View the world is regarded as the result of the dismemberment of the self, the brahman, the godhead. The one has been dismembered into the many. So remembrance means to realize that each single member of the many is really the one; that is re-collection.

You can think of this in another way. It is really the same way, but I will not explain exactly how. I will leave you with a few puzzles. This other way to be recollected is to be completely here and now.

There was a wise old boy who used to give lectures on these things and he would get up and not say a word. He would just look at the audience and examine every person individually, and everyone would start to feel uncomfortable. He wouldn’t say anything but would just look at everyone. Then he would suddenly shout, “WAKE UP! You’re all asleep.”

Are you here, recollected? Most people aren’t. They are bothering about yesterday and wondering what they are going to do tomorrow, and they are not all here. That is a definition of sanity, to be all here. To be recollected is to be completely alert and available for the present, which is the only place you are ever going to be in. Yesterday does not exist. Tomorrow never comes. There is only today. A great Sanskrit invocation says, “Look to this day, for it is life. In its brief course lies all the realities of our existence. Yesterday is but a memory. Tomorrow is only a vision. Look well then to this day.”

Beyond smriti, recollectedness, being all here, comes the last step of the Eightfold Path, samyak samadhi. Samyak samadhi is integrated consciousness; in it there is no separation between knower and the known, subject and object. You are what you know.

We think ordinarily that we are witnesses to a constantly changing panorama of experience from which we, as the knowers of this experience, stand aside and watch. We think of our minds as a kind of tablet on which experience writes a record. Eventually experience, by writing so much on the tablet, wears it out, scratches it away, and then we die. But actually there is no difference between the knower and the known. I cannot explain this to you in words; you can only find it out for yourself. When I say, “I see a sight; I feel a feeling,” I am being redundant. “I see” implies the sight. “I feel” implies the feeling. Do you hear sounds? No, you just hear. Or else you can say simply that there are sounds; either way of expressing it will do. If you thoroughly investigate the process of experiencing, you will find that the experience is the same as the experiencer. This is the state of samadhi.

I suggested before that the organism and the environment are a single behavioral process. Now I will put it another way: the knower and the known are the same. You, as someone who is aware-walong with all that you are aware of-are a single process. That is the state of samadhi.

You get to the samadhi state by the practice of meditation. Virtually every Buddha figure is seen in the posture of meditation, sitting quietly, aware of all that is going on without commenting on it, without thinking about it. When you cease categorizing, verbalizing, talking to yourself, the difference between knower and known, self and other, simply vanishes. What is the difference, anyway? Can you point to the thing that makes my fingers different from each other? There is no thing called difference. The idea of difference is an abstraction. It just does not exist in the physical world.

This is not to say, however, that my fingers are all the same. They are neither different nor the same. Difference and sameness are ideas. You cannot point to an idea. You cannot put your finger on it. This is what Buddhists mean when they say the world is basically sunya, empty, a void. Everything is sunya. You cannot catch the world in a conceptual net any more than you can catch water in a net. Sunya does not mean that the world itself and the energy of the world are nothing, however. It means that no concept of the world is valid. No ideas or beliefs or doctrines or systems or theories can contain the universe.

If you “exhale,” then, if you let go of conceptions, you will be in the state of nirvana, for no reason that anybody can explain. When you enter that state there will well up from within you what the Buddhists call karuna, or compassion. This is the sense that you are not separate from everybody else but that everybody else is suffering as you are. It is a tremendous sense of solidarity with all other beings. The person who reaches nirvana does not withdraw from the world, therefore, but comes back from samadhi into it and its difficulties and all the problems of life renewed and filled with compassion for everyone.

The Dharmachakra or ‘Wheel of the Dharma’ represents Gautama Buddha’s teachings. The circle symbolizes the completeness of the Dharma, the spokes represent the eightfold path leading to enlightenment: Right faith, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right endeavor, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

Each Truth Contains the Other

‘The nondual nature of reality is also part of the four noble truths. Although there are four noble truths, each truth contains the others; they can’t be considered completely separately from each other. If you fully understand one noble truth, you understand all four. If you really begin to understand suffering, you are already beginning to understand the path to its cessation. The four truths inter-are. Each one contains the other.

The first noble truth is ill-being. The second noble truth is the causes of ill-being, the thoughts and actions that put us on the path leading to ill-being. The third noble truth is well-being, the cessation of ill-being. The fourth noble truth is the path leading to well being, the noble eightfold path.

The second noble truth is the action that leads to suffering, and the fourth noble truth is the action that leads to well-being, so in a sense they are two pairs of cause and effect. The second noble truth (the path of ill-being) leads us to the first (ill-being), and the fourth noble truth (the noble eightfold path) leads us to the third (well-being). Either we are walking the noble path or we are on the ignoble path that brings suffering to ourselves and others. We are always on one path or the other.’

- Thich Nhat Hanh, Good Citizens: Creating Enlightened Society.