Although the idea of Nirvana comes from Buddhism, the idea of attaining true happiness spans all walks of life. The Four Noble Truths that are at the heart of Buddhism are a sort of road map to help human beings deal with the suffering that inherently comes with living a human life. They state that there are many types of suffering, all of which have a cause and an end. Nirvana is attained when we end the suffering. The Noble Eightfold Path is the step-by-step guide to achieving Nirvana. In a way, The Four Noble Truths are the International Classification of Diseases and The Noble Eightfold Path is the prescription guide book. Understanding the truth and putting the path into action are crucial to getting closer to the goal, Nirvana.
How to Follow the Eightfold Path
1. Start a Regular Meditation Practice
Meditation is a big part of changing the way the mind operates. It is also the key that can help unlock the door to Nirvana. One of the main goals of meditation is to help you to better understand yourself and to come into a deeper relationship with yourself. As you get deeper into knowing yourself, you will also better understand the world and how you show up in it.
2. Change Your View
Accepting reality is key in following The Eightfold Path. When we can see the world for what it truly is and not what we want it to be, a shift begins to happen. You can begin to look at reality objectively, without passing any judgement, without injecting your desires, fears or personal feelings. This means training to be a more critical and objective thinker through the study and examination of the world and people around you. It should also be noted that there is no thing that is perfect, and there is no situation that is permanent. All things and people have the ability to change.
3. Align Your Intentions
Good intentions are everything! You want your attitude to align with your beliefs, meaning that both have to be a reflection of the other. Choose your thoughts and attitudes wisely. As living beings we all deserve love, patience, compassion, kindness and joy, so rejecting thoughts that exemplify the opposite is very helpful in setting the right intentions for your life and your attitude.
4. Kind Words and Noble Action
Speaking kindly and thoughtfully matters. There is not much good that comes from gossip, slander, hateful speech and lies. Even when you have to give correction, you can still be kind and thoughtful. Both your words and actions should be affirming and uplift others. Treat people with respect, yourself included. Strive to live an honest and peaceful life that improves the lives of others.
5. Right Effort
Putting forth true and positive effort often yields success. It should be noted that success means different things to different people, so be sure to outline what success really means to you. Focus on positive outcomes and be enthusiastic about the things and people you are putting your energy into. Here are the four principles to Right Effort:
Preventing unhealthy and evil conditions from emerging.
Countering already present evil and unhealthy conditions with positivity and good thoughts or confronting the root of the unhealthy condition.
Creating wholesome and healthy conditions.
Maintaining and building upon healthy conditions.
6. Be Mindful and Focus Your Mind
Mindfulness means being aware of your body, feelings, thoughts and phenomena. Living in the present moment and being open to the experiences life offers us can be instrumental in helping us to navigate our inner and outer worlds. Being able to focus your mind on any one thing is beneficial in letting go of stress and anxiety. This is also called Right Concentration, and it can help you to examine things critically so that you can see things for what they really are.