CONCLUSIONS and THE FOURTH NOBLE TRUTH
and THE EIGHTFOLD PATH
This page is new, and as so often ideas tumble out in an illogical order. I then need to relook days and weeks later and sort it all out - so it may be still hard to understand, - ...
The Fourth Noble Truth maps out eight steps to end Dukkha and be free from Karma. The Fourth Noble Truth is the same as The Eightfold Path.
The Eightfold Path is self explanatory and seems amazingly accurately transmitted over the years. The steps of the Eightfold Path are broadly understood as Right Understanding/View, ... Thought/Resolve, ... Speech, ... Action/Conduct, ... Livelihood, ... Effort, ... Mindfulness, and ... Concentration/Absorption.
Of the oldest, most trusted, Pali texts, the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna gives the most detailed explanation.
Please read The Fourth Truth of one of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's English Translations.
I have a few points to add.
The Seventh Step of The Eightfold Path is Right Mindfulness
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
In Buddha's Eightfold Path, the Seventh Step directs us Mindfulness. In the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's version, this directs us specifically to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, which is the Satipaṭṭhāna, (the Satipaṭṭhāna is the first part of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna). I don't now how many other Sutras or teachings specify this. I find "The Four Foundations of Mindfulness" are clearly the best representation of the practical aspect of what Buddha meant by Mindfulness.
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are: mindfulness of body, feeling/sensation/pleasure/displeasure, state of being, and dhamma/teaching/applying understanding. The Fourth Foundation is associated with something Christians feel by remembering God.
Right Understanding needs clarification
The First Step of The Eightfold Path is the Right Understanding of Dukkha.
"And what, monks, is Right Understanding? It is this, monks: the knowledge of suffering, the knowledge of the arising of suffering, the knowledge of the cessation of suffering, the knowledge of the path leading to the cessation of suffering. This, monks, is called Right Understanding." Reference: from English Translations, Ref 1: Pali Tipitaka
Right Understanding does not mean the right understanding of the Sun and Moon, or genetics, or anything else except Dukkha (here translated as suffering).
In this sense whenever i see the word 'suffering', i make my own translation, and remember wheels, and read 'dukkha', 'problematic', or 'not running smoothly'. Whenever i see 'rebirth', i read it as 'repeating' or 'repetition'. And likewise i understand 'the stage of non-returner' in the context of a wheel turning, as 'the stage of no more repetition'. This makes far more common sense of, and easy reading of the original texts.
Right Effort needs an explanation.
The Sixth Step of The Eightfold Path : Right Effort
"And what, monks, is Right Effort? Here, monks, a monk generates the will to prevent the arising of unarisen evil unwholesome mental states; he makes strong effort, stirs up his energy, applies his mind to it and strives. To eradicate those evil unwholesome mental states that have arisen in him, he generates the will, makes strong effort, stirs up his energy, applies his mind to it and strives. To develop wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen in him, he generates will, makes strong effort, stirs up his energy, applies his mind to it and strives. To maintain wholesome mental states that have arisen in him, not to let them fade away, to multiply them and bring them to full maturity and to full development, he generates will, makes strong effort, stirs up his energy, applies his mind to it and strives. This, monks, is called Right Effort." Reference: from English Translations, Ref 1: Pali Tipitaka
Ref 3. English Translations U Jotika & U Dhamminda translate the same passage with
"And what, bhikkhus, is Right Effort? Here (in this teaching), bhikkhus, a bhikkhu generates an intention, makes effort, rouses energy, applies his mind, and strives ardently to prevent the arising of evil, unwholesome states of mind that have not yet arisen." ... etc. (and continue as the first translation through the four aspects of this attitude and approach).
Ref 4. English Translations Thanissaro bhikkhu translates the same passage with
"And what is right effort? There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, arouses persistence, upholds & exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen" ... etc. (and continue as the first translation through the four aspects of this attitude and approach).
Important Point on Translations
Here we can see clearly the problems with translation : the same Pali word is translated as will (with the implication of will-power) - intention - and desire. As i mentioned before there is a necessity to think for oursleves with the texts to guide us, but never automatically believe these texts are accurate.
Right Effort tells us to WANT wholesome states and to avoid unwholesome states.
Here Buddha is telling us first to gain wholesome karma rather than unwholesome karma - to turn the wheels in a wholesome direction - (as a prelude to being free from karma and repetitions).
He's doing this, because now we know from the First Three Truths that our senses want (and we want to repeat) things which are pleasurable. So the point here is to first educate ourselves to want wholesomeness, and how do we do that? By focusing on wholesome things, reading holy books, watching religious films, walking in nature, going on pilgrimages, talking about Dharma and Dukkha with others.
The pleasure of exciting things, promises, dreams, and hopes of pleasures in the future, are so easy to fill ourselves with and the sense of purpose appears to satisfy us... (adrenilin is probably easier for the body to produce than dopamin) ... and how can we re-educate ourselves? By using The Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's Seventh Step.
The Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna's Seventh Step directs us to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. The Second of these is the mindfulness of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral sensations. And furthermore: are these pleasant or unpleasant sensations connected "with attachment" or not; "with sensual desires" or not; with "a pleasant worldly feeling or a pleasant unworldly feeling" or "of the flesh or not of the flesh" (which is another example of the sort of variation which happens during translations).
So the point is, simply, to be aware of if anything you're doing is pleasurable or not and if it's wholesome or not. (as far as you can judge).
dopamin or adrenalin?
The mindful experience – of whether pleasure is connected with sensual desires (and the hope or promise of pleasure in the future); or wholesome pleasure (with happiness now) - (as far as each of us is able to experience according to our individual abilities) – i think this lets us experience what makes us generate dopamin or adrenalin (please discuss) ... it should generate desire energy and effort in a wholesome direction.
Right Effort makes sense: to generate wholesome pleasure, by applying mindfulness to pleasure. It enables us to discern between things which we feel do us good, rather than the things which excite us; the actual experience of pleasure, rather than planning for the next future pleasure. ... dopamin or adrenalin ... I'm still working on it ... getting the wheels turning in wholesome directions ...
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