Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

Paperback: 118 pages, Publisher: Parallax Press (September 9, 2005), ISBN: 0938077007.  In order to achieve peace, we must be peace. This simple truth is the theme of this inspiring collection of lectures, given by Buddhist monk, scholar, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. If we are to change the world, he explains, we need to begin with ourselves, and awaken that eternal part of us where true peace resides - our own Buddha nature. His lucid explanations make us realise how easy this awakening can actually be... and how powerful. For, with inner peace as the guide and criterion for all our actions, we transform our way of living into one genuinely capable of bringing lasting peace into a troubled world.  The book also helps us with some basic understanding of Buddhism and meditation.   [The following is what I highlighted during my read of this excellent book -- I recommend it on my Top-ten List of Peace resources.  My purpose in providing them is to interest you, the reader, and hope that you will obtain and read the complete work.  To properly understand the highlights, you need to read the book to put them in the proper context.]

Introduction

- If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.

 

Chapter 1. Suffering Is Not Enough

If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we can’t share peace and happiness with others.

Life is both dreadful and wonderful.  To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects.

It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.

 

Chapter 2. The Three Gems

Buddhas are us.

The root word “budh” means to wake up, to know, to understand.  A person who wakes up and understands is called a Buddha.

In Buddhism, there are three gems: Buddha, the awakened one; Dharma, the way of understanding and loving; and Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.

… practice meditating, breathing, and smiling.

… to develop his awakening, his understanding, and his love …

Discourse on Turning the Wheel of the Dharma

Anything that can help you wake up has Buddha nature.

Saddharma Pundarika Sutra

 

Chapter 3. Feelings and Perceptions

The Abhidharma writings on Buddhist psychology … I find this analysis not correct.

… you practice awareness, you suddenly become very rich, very very happy.

“Don’t waste your life.”

We are not capable of understanding each other, and that is the main source of human suffering.

… look at things deeply in order to understand their own true nature …

… dependent co-arising.

… in order to take care of you, I have to take care of myself.

… in order to understand, you have to be one with what you want to understand.

Nonduality means “not two”, but “not two” also means “not one”.

Satipatthana Sutta (the basic manual on meditation)

“Nonduality” is the key word for Buddhist meditation.

I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence.

If you cannot be compassionate to yourself, you will not be able to be compassionate to others.

We cannot destroy the energy; we can only convert it into a more constructive energy.  Forgiveness is a constructive energy.

Anger is born from ignorance, and is a strong ally of ignorance.

We have to perceive our political and economic systems correctly in order to see what is going wrong.

… knowledge is regarded as an obstacle to understanding.

Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand.  Understanding means to throw away your knowledge.  You have to be able to transcend your knowledge the way people climb a ladder.

The Buddhist way of understanding is always letting go of our views and knowledge in order to transcend.  This is the most important teaching.

 

Chapter 4.  The Heart of Practice

… in Buddhism there is no such thing as an individual.

We are all children of society, but we are also mothers.  We have to nourish society.

… alienated people.

… I myself feel that I cannot get along with this society very well.

But my practice helps me remain in society, because I am aware that if I leave society, I will not be able to help change it.  I hope that those who are practicing Buddhism succeed in keeping their feet on earth, staying in society.  That is our hope for peace.

To me, a meditation centre is where you get back to yourself, you get a clearer understanding of reality, you get more strength in understanding and love, and you prepare for your reentry into society.  If it’s not like that, it’s not a real meditation center.  As we develop real understanding, we can reenter society and make a real contribution.

Our mind is like a river, with many thoughts and feelings flowing along.  From time to time, it is helpful to recite a gatha, a short verse, to remind us what is going on.

 

Chapter 5. Working For Peace

… if only the people in Western countries would reduce their eating of meat and drinking of alcohol by 50 percent, that would be enough to change the situation of the world.

If we are aware, we can do something to change the course of things.

… we should be able to be the river, we should be able to be the forest, we should be able to be a citizen of any country in the world.  We must do this to understand, and to have hope for the future.  That is the non-dualistic way of seeing.

To understand the suffering and the fear of a citizen of another country, we have to become one with him.

… if we align ourselves with one side or the other, we will lose our change to work for peace.

… no one has the time to organize a national debate to look at the problem …

… change our government’s policy.

Meditation is to see deeply into things, to see how we can change, how we can transform our situation.  To transform our situation is also to transform our minds.  To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation.  Awakening is important.  The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our own being are the same.  This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism.

… a system of seven practices of reconciliation …

The first practice is Face-to-Face Sitting.

The two conflicting monks are present, and they know that everyhone in the community expects them to make peace.

The second practice is Remembrance.

… trying to mend the things of the past.

The third principle is Non-stubbornness.

The outcome is not important.  The fact that each monk is doing his best to show his willingness for reconciliation and understanding is most important.

You do your best, and that is enough.

The fourth practice is Covering Mud with Straw.

… the mud is the dispute, and the straw is the loving kindness of the Dharma.

The fifth stage is Voluntary Confession.  Each monk reveals his own shortcomings, without waiting for others to say them.

… de-escalation …

… the capacity of mutual understanding and acceptance will be born.

… you are part of the community.  The well-being of the community is most important.  Don’t think only of your own feelings.

… sacrifice …

The sixth and seventh practices are Decision by Consensus and Accepting the Verdict.  It is agreed in advance that the two monks will accept whatever verdict is pronounced by the whole assembly, or they will have to leave the community.

There is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding in the peace movement.  The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter.  We need to learn to write a letter to the Congress or to the president of the United States that they will want to read, and not just throw away.  The way you speak, the kind of understanding, the kind of language you use should not turn people off.  The president is a person like any of us.

Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace?  I think that will depend on whether the people in the peace movement can be peace.  Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace.  If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people to smile.  If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.

I hope we can bring a new dimension to the peace movement.  The peace movement is filled with anger and hatred.  It cannot fulfill the path we expect from them.  A fresh way of being peace, of doing peace is needed.  That is why it is so important for us to practice meditation, to acquire the capacity to look, to see, and to understand.  It would be wonderful if we could bring to the peace movement our contribution, our way of looking at things, that will diminish aggression and hatred.  Peace work means, first of all, being peace.  Meditation is meditation for all of us.  We rely on each other.  Our children are relying on us in order to have a future.

 

Chapter 6. Interbeing

When combined with the Western way of doing things, the Buddhist principle of seeing and acting nondualistically will totally change our way of life.

Buddhist is not one.  The teaching of Buddhism is many.

Buddhism, in order to be Buddhism, must be suitable, appropriate to the psychology and culture of the society that it serves.

… to be in touch with oneself.

… in order to find out the source of wisdom, understanding, and compassion in each of us.  Being in touch with oneself is the meaning of meditation, to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind.

“Tiep” also means to be in touch with Buddhas and bodhisattvas, the enlightened people in whom full understanding and compassion are tangible and effective.

The second part of the meaning of “tiep” is “to continue”, to make something more long-lasting.

“Hien” means “the present time”.  … only the present is real …

“Hien” also means “to make real, to manifest, realization.”

… “interbeing” … “mutual” and “to be”.

In the Order of Interbeing, there are two communities. … core community … the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order.

According to the teachings of the Buddha, the mind is the root of everything else.

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings (ref. http://www.plumvillage.org/MindfulnessTrainings/14MT.htm )

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, I am determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help me learn to look deeply and to develop my understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill or die for.

… Human life is more precious than any ideology or doctrine. … One of the most basic teachings of the Buddha is that life is precious.  Peace can only be achieved when we are free from fanaticism.  The more you practice this mindfulness training, the deeper you will go into reality and understanding the teaching of the Buddha.

The Second Mindfulness Training: Non-attachment to Views
Aware of suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, I am determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. I will learn and practise non-attachment from views in order to be open to others’ insights and experiences. I am aware that the knowledge I presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life and I will observe life within and around me in every moment, ready to learn throughout my life.

… A scientist with an open mind, who can question the present knowledge of science, will have more of a chance of discovering a higher truth. … The way of nonattachment from views is the basic teaching of Buddhism concerning understanding.

The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
Aware of the suffering brought about when I impose my views on others, I am committed not to force others, even my children, by any means whatsoever – such as authority, threat, money, propaganda or indoctrination – to adopt my views. I will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. I will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue.

… spirit of free inquiry.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help me develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, I am determined not to avoid or close my eyes before suffering. I am committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so I can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace and joy.

… If we don’t encounter pain, ills, we won’t look for the causes of pain and ills to find a remedy, a way out of the situation. … But much of the suffering in the West is unnecessary and can vanish when we see the real suffering of other people.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, I am determined not to take as the aim of my life fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. I am committed to living simply and sharing my time, energy and material resources with those in real need. I will practise mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into my own and the collective body and consciousness.

… The human mind is always searching for possessions, and never feels fulfilled.  Bodhisattvas move in the opposite direction and follow the principle of self-sufficiency.  They live a simple life in order to practice the way, and consider the realization of perfect understanding as their only career.

The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Dealing with Anger
Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, I am determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises and to recognise and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep in my consciousness. When anger comes up, I am determined not to do or say anything, but to practise mindful breathing or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace and look deeply into my anger. I will learn to look with the eyes of compassion on those I think are the cause of my anger.

… Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion. …

The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment
Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possible to live happily in the here and now, I am committed to training myself to live deeply each moment of daily life. I will try not to lose myself in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or craving, anger or jealousy in the present. I will practise mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. I am determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing and healing elements that are inside and around me, and by nourishing seeds of joy, peace, love and understanding in myself, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in my consciousness.

… to live in awareness. …

The Eighth Mindfulness Training: Community and Communication
Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, I am committed to training myself in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. I will learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community to break. I will make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

… The first seven trainings deal with mind, then two with speech, and five with body. … In order to help reconcile a conflict, we have to be in touch with both sides.  We must transcend the conflict; if we are still in the conflict, it is difficult to reconcile. … The world needs people like this for the work of reconciliation, people with the capacity of understanding and compassion.

The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech
Aware that words can create suffering or happiness, I am committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence. I am determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain nor criticise or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will do my best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten my safety.

… The words we speak can create love, trust, and happiness around us, or create a hell. … speak constructively. …

The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting the Sangha
Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practise of understanding and compassion, I am determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood
Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to the environment and society, I am committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. I will do my best to select a livelihood that helps realize my ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of global economic, political and social realities, I will behave responsibly as a consumer and as a citizen, not investing in companies that deprive others of their chance to live.

… finding ways to realize a collective right livelihood. … The problem is whether we are determined to go in the direction of compassion or not.  If we are, then can we reduce the suffering to a minimum?  If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north.  That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star.  I just want to go in that direction.

The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life
Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, I am determined to cultivate non-violence, understanding and compassion in my daily life, to promote peace education, mindful mediation and reconciliation, within families, communities, nations and in the world. I am determined not to kill and not to let others kill. I will diligently practice deep looking with my Sangha to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.

… Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war.  Protesting the war is too late.

The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I am committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals. I will practice generosity by sharing my time, energy and material resources with those who are in need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

… we can be close to oppressed people and help them protect their right to life and defend themselves against oppression and exploitation.  Letting people profit from human suffering or the suffering of other beings is something we cannot do.  As a community we must try to prevent this.  How to work for justice in our own city is a problem we have to consider.  The bodhisattvas’ vow – to help all sentient beings – are immense. …

The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: Right Conduct
For lay members: Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness, but will create more suffering, frustration and isolation, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, I must be aware of future suffering that may be caused. I know that to preserve the happiness of myself and others, I must respect the rights and commitments of myself and others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. I will treat my body with respect and preserve my vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of my bodhisattva ideal. I will be fully aware of the responsibility for bringing new lives in the world, and will meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings.

 

… urges us to be aware of what we are doing. … Breath energy is the kind of energy you spend when you talk too much and breathe to little.  Spirit energy is energy that you spend when you worry too much and do not sleep well. … Buddhist monks observed celibacy, not because of moral admonition, but to conserve energy.  Someone on a long fast knows how important it is to preserve these three sources of energy.

We should take good care of ourselves.

If you wish to have children, please do something for the world you will bring them into.  That will make you someone who works for peace, in one way or another.

 

Chapter 7. Meditation in Daily Life

Concentration … is the first practice of meditation.

This is insight meditation.  First we are aware of the problem, focusing all our attention on the problem, and then we look deeply into it in order to understand its real nature …

The more we understand, the easier it is for us to have compassion and love.  Understanding is the source of love.

When you grow a tree, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the tree.  You look into the reasons it is not doing well.  It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun.  You never blame the tree, yet we blame our son.  If we know how to take care of him, he will grow well, like a tree.  Blaming has no effect at all.  Never blame, never try to persuade using reason and arguments.  They never lead to any positive effect.  That is my experience.  No argument, no reasoning, no blame, just understanding.  If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.

… the first step of meditation is stopping, stopping the dispersion, concentrating on one subject.  The best subject, the most available subject, is your breathing.

Stopping and seeing are very close. … Stop and look, that’s meditation … Insight means you have a vision, and insight into reality.

Sit there, stop, be yourself first, and begin from there.  That is the meaning of meditation.

“Let peace begin with me.”  That’s correct.  And let me begin with peace.  That is also correct.

Satipatthana Sutta: the Buddha’s basic Dharma talk concerning meditation

… to meditate is to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind, and in the objects of your mind, which are the world.  If you are aware of what is going on, then you can see problems as they unfold, and you can help prevent many of them.  When things explode, it is too late.

… the gatha: “Today, on the table there are good things that Mommy just cooked.  There I see Papa, there I see my brother, there I see my sister, it is so good to be together and eat together like this, while there are many who are hungry.  I feel very thankful.”

This is the best education for peace.

There are three things I can recommend to you: arranging to have a breathing room in your home, a room for meditation; practicing breathing, sitting, for a few minutes every morning at home with your children; and going out for a slow walking meditation with your children before going to sleep, just ten minutes is enough.  These things are very important.  They can change our civilization.

 

FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT BUDDHISM:

The Four Noble Truths (ref. http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/fourtruths.html )

1. Life means suffering.

To live means to suffer, because the human nature is not perfect and neither is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death; and we have to endure psychological suffering like sadness, fear, frustration, disappointment, and depression. Although there are different degrees of suffering and there are also positive experiences in life that we perceive as the opposite of suffering, such as ease, comfort and happiness, life in its totality is imperfect and incomplete, because our world is subject to impermanence. This means we are never able to keep permanently what we strive for, and just as happy moments pass by, we ourselves and our loved ones will pass away one day, too.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. Transient things do not only include the physical objects that surround us, but also ideas, and -in a greater sense- all objects of our perception. Ignorance is the lack of understanding of how our mind is attached to impermanent things. The reasons for suffering are desire, passion, ardor, pursue of wealth and prestige, striving for fame and popularity, or in short: craving and clinging. Because the objects of our attachment are transient, their loss is inevitable, thus suffering will necessarily follow. Objects of attachment also include the idea of a "self" which is a delusion, because there is no abiding self. What we call "self" is just an imagined entity, and we are merely a part of the ceaseless becoming of the universe.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

The cessation of suffering can be attained through nirodha. Nirodha means the unmaking of sensual craving and conceptual attachment. The third noble truth expresses the idea that suffering can be ended by attaining dispassion. Nirodha extinguishes all forms of clinging and attachment. This means that suffering can be overcome through human activity, simply by removing the cause of suffering. Attaining and perfecting dispassion is a process of many levels that ultimately results in the state of Nirvana. Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, complexes, fabrications and ideas. Nirvana is not comprehensible for those who have not attained it.

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

There is a path to the end of suffering - a gradual path of self-improvement, which is described more detailed in the Eightfold Path. It is the middle way between the two extremes of excessive self-indulgence (hedonism) and excessive self-mortification (asceticism); and it leads to the end of the cycle of rebirth. The latter quality discerns it from other paths which are merely "wandering on the wheel of becoming", because these do not have a final object. The path to the end of suffering can extend over many lifetimes, throughout which every individual rebirth is subject to karmic conditioning. Craving, ignorance, delusions, and its effects will disappear gradually, as progress is made on the path.

 

The Noble Eightfold Path (ref. http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html )

The Noble Eightfold Path describes the way to the end of suffering, as it was laid out by Siddhartha Gautama. It is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things. Together with the Four Noble Truths it constitutes the gist of Buddhism. Great emphasis is put on the practical aspect, because it is only through practice that one can attain a higher level of existence and finally reach Nirvana. The eight aspects of the path are not to be understood as a sequence of single steps, instead they are highly interdependent principles that have to be seen in relationship with each other.

1. Right View

Right view is the beginning and the end of the path, it simply means to see and to understand things as they really are and to realize the Four Noble Truth. As such, right view is the cognitive aspect of wisdom. It means to see things through, to grasp the impermanent and imperfect nature of worldly objects and ideas, and to understand the law of karma and karmic conditioning. Right view is not necessarily an intellectual capacity, just as wisdom is not just a matter of intelligence. Instead, right view is attained, sustained, and enhanced through all capacities of mind. It begins with the intuitive insight that all beings are subject to suffering and it ends with complete understanding of the true nature of all things. Since our view of the world forms our thoughts and our actions, right view yields right thoughts and right actions.

2. Right Intention

While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.

3. Right Speech

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

4. Right Action

The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently, 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty, and 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the Precepts.

5. Right Livelihood

Right livelihood means that one should earn one's living in a righteous way and that wealth should be gained legally and peacefully. The Buddha mentions four specific activities that harm other beings and that one should avoid for this reason: 1. dealing in weapons, 2. dealing in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as slave trade and prostitution), 3. working in meat production and butchery, and 4. selling intoxicants and poisons, such as alcohol and drugs. Furthermore any other occupation that would violate the principles of right speech and right action should be avoided.

6. Right Effort

Right effort can be seen as a prerequisite for the other principles of the path. Without effort, which is in itself an act of will, nothing can be achieved, whereas misguided effort distracts the mind from its task, and confusion will be the consequence. Mental energy is the force behind right effort; it can occur in either wholesome or unwholesome states. The same type of energy that fuels desire, envy, aggression, and violence can on the other side fuel self-discipline, honesty, benevolence, and kindness. Right effort is detailed in four types of endeavors that rank in ascending order of perfection: 1. to prevent the arising of unarisen unwholesome states, 2. to abandon unwholesome states that have already arisen, 3. to arouse wholesome states that have not yet arisen, and 4. to maintain and perfect wholesome states already arisen.

7. Right Mindfulness

Right mindfulness is the controlled and perfected faculty of cognition. It is the mental ability to see things as they are, with clear consciousness. Usually, the cognitive process begins with an impression induced by perception, or by a thought, but then it does not stay with the mere impression. Instead, we almost always conceptualize sense impressions and thoughts immediately. We interpret them and set them in relation to other thoughts and experiences, which naturally go beyond the facticity of the original impression. The mind then posits concepts, joins concepts into constructs, and weaves those constructs into complex interpretative schemes. All this happens only half consciously, and as a result we often see things obscured. Right mindfulness is anchored in clear perception and it penetrates impressions without getting carried away. Right mindfulness enables us to be aware of the process of conceptualization in a way that we actively observe and control the way our thoughts go. Buddha accounted for this as the four foundations of mindfulness: 1. contemplation of the body, 2. contemplation of feeling (repulsive, attractive, or neutral), 3. contemplation of the state of mind, and 4. contemplation of the phenomena.

8. Right Concentration

The eighth principle of the path, right concentration, refers to the development of a mental force that occurs in natural consciousness, although at a relatively low level of intensity, namely concentration. Concentration in this context is described as one-pointedness of mind, meaning a state where all mental faculties are unified and directed onto one particular object. Right concentration for the purpose of the eightfold path means wholesome concentration, i.e. concentration on wholesome thoughts and actions. The Buddhist method of choice to develop right concentration is through the practice of meditation. The meditating mind focuses on a selected object. It first directs itself onto it, then sustains concentration, and finally intensifies concentration step by step. Through this practice it becomes natural to apply elevated levels concentration also in everyday situations.