Right livelihood is earning a living without needing to transgress any of the Five Mindfulness trainings; not dealing in arms, the slave trade, the meat trade, the sale of alcohol, drugs, or poison, making prophecies or telling fortunes.
A job that involves killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying or selling drugs or alcohol is not right livelihood.
Making weapons or profiting from others superstition is also not right livelihood.
People may have superstitions such as believing that their fate is sealed in the stars, but by practicing mindfulness, we can change the destiny astrologers have predicted for us. Moreover, prophecies can be self-fulfilling.
Creating art can also be a form of livelihood. A composer, writer, painter, or performer has an effect on the collective consciousness. Any work of art is to a certain extent a product of the collective consciousness. Therefore, the individual artist needs to practice mindfulness so that her work of art helps those who touch it practice right attention.
As we study and practice the Noble Eight Fold Path, we see that each element of the path is contained within the other seven elements.
The practice of Right Concentration is to cultivate a mind that is one-pointed. There are two kinds of concentration, active and selective. In active concentration, the mind dwells on whatever is happening in the present moment, even as it changes. The following poem by a Buddhist monk, Huong Hai illustrates active concentration.
The wind whistles in the bamboo
And the bamboo dances.
When the wind stops,
The bamboo grows still.
A silver bird
flies over the autumn lake.
When it has passed,
The lake’s surface does not try
To hold onto the image of the bird.
When we practice active concentration, we welcome whatever comes along. We don’t think about it or long for anything else. We just dwell in the present moment with our whole being. Whatever comes, comes. When the object of our concentration passed our mind remains clear.
When we practice selective concentration, we choose one object and hold onto it. During sitting or walking mediation our attention is focused on our object.
We concentrate to make ourselves deeply present
Right concentration leads to happiness, and it also leads to Right Action
Samadhi means concentration. To practice samadhi is to live deeply in each moment.
Mindfulness brings about concentration
Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration lift us above he realms of sensual pleasure and craving, and we find ourselves lighter and happier.
There are nine levels of meditative concentration. The first four are the Four Dhyanas. They are on the form realm. The next five levels belong to the formless realm.
After the fourth dhyana the meditator enters into a deeper experience of concentration.
The object of the fifth level of concentration is limitless space. According the Buddha’s teaching, nothing has a separate self.
The object of the sixth level of concentration is limitless consciousness.
The object of the seventh level of concentration is nothingness.
Level eight is neither perception nor non perception
Level nine is cessation. Cessation from ignorance in our feelings. From this level is born insight. When someone practices well, the ninth level of concentration shines a light on the reality of things and transforms ignorance.
The Buddha taught many concentration practices. To practice the Concentration on Impermanence, every time you see your beloved see her as impermanent and do your best to make her happy today. The insight into impermanence keeps you from getting caught up in the suffering and craving, attachment, and despair. See and listen to everything with this insight.
According to the Lotus Sutra, we have to live in the historical and ultimate dimensions of reality at the same time. We have to live deeply our life as a wave so we can touch the substance of water in us. We walk, look, breathe, and eat in a way that we touch the absolute dimension of reality. We transcend birth and death and the fears of being and nonbeing, one and many.
Live every moment of your life deeply, and while walking, eating, drinking, and looking at the morning star, you touch the ultimate dimension.
Right diligence or right effort is the kind of energy that helps us realize the Noble Eightfold Path. Four practices usually associated with right diligence:
Preventing unwholesome seeds in our store consciousness from arising
Helping unwholesome seeds that have arisen return to our store consciousness
Finding ways to water wholesome seeds in our store consciousness that have not yet arisen
Nourishing the wholesome seeds that have already arisen.
Unwholesome means not conducive to the path. The wholesome seeds of happiness, love, loyalty, and reconciliation need watering every day.
According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into eight parts, including mind consciousness and store consciousness. Store consciousness is described as a field in which every kind of seed can be planted. Seeds of suffering, sorrow, fear, and anger, and seeds of happiness and hope. When these seeds sprout, they manifest in our mind consciousness and when they do, they become stronger.
We need to know our physical and psychological limits. We shouldn’t force ourselves to do ascetic practices or lose ourselves in sensual pleasures. Right Diligence lies in the Middle Way between the extremes of austerity and sensual indulgence. Joy and ease are two factors that are at the heart of Right Diligence.
The following gatha can give us energy to live the day well:
Waking up this morning I smile
24 brand new hours are before me
I vow to live fully in each moment
and look to all beings with eyes of compassion.
The practice of mindful living should be joyful and pleasant. If you breathe in and out and feel joy and peace, that is right diligence.
Right Action means Right Action of the body. It is the practice of touching love and preventing harm, the practice of non-violence toward ourselves and others. The Basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.
Right Action is closely linked with four of the five mindfulness trainings:
The first mindfulness training is about the reference of life
The second mindfulness training is about generosity
The third mindfulness training is about sexual responsibility
The fifth mindfulness training encourages mindful eating, drinking, and consuming
Right action is based on Right View, Right Thinking, and Right Speech, and is very much linked to Right Livelihood. The basis of Right Action is Right Mindfulness.
The classical explanation of Right Speech is 1) Speaking truthfully. 2) Not speaking with a forked tongue. 3) Not speaking cruelly.
Right Speech is based on Right Thinking.
Deep listening is at the foundation of Right Speech
Compassionate listening brings about healing
When communication is cut off we suffer
The Bodhisattva Kwan Yin is the one who hears the cries of the world
If you really love someone, train yourself to be a good listener
You must use loving speech
You need to practice more walking meditation, more mindful breathing, more sitting meditation in order to restore your capacity for compassionate listening
When you begin to understand the suffering of the other person compassion will arise in you. Compassion is the only energy that can help us connect with another person. The person who has no compassion in him can never be happy
Writing is a deep practice
Silence is a time for looking deeply. There are times when silence is truth and that is called “thundering silence”
Words and thought can kill. We cannot support acts of killing in our thinking or in our speech. If you have a job in which telling the truth is impossible, you may have to change jobs. If you have a job that allows you to speak truth, be grateful. To practice social justice and non-exploitation, we have to use right speech
The Fourth Mindfulness Training is training oneself to listen with compassion
May my words be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers
I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening
Words can create happiness or suffering
I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope
I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and I will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
Mindfulness is remembering to come back to the present moment.
Right mindfulness accepts everything without judging or reacting. It is inclusive and loving.
The practice is to find a way to sustain appropriate attention throughout the day.
The Seven Miracles of Mindfulness
Make the other present also
Nourish the object of your attention
Relieve the other’s suffering
Understanding (the foundation of love).
The Four Establishments of Mindfulness
Mindfulness of the body in the body
Mindfulness of the feelings in the feelings
Mindfulness of the mind in the mind
Mindfulness of phenomena in phenomena (object of our mind)
If we observe these six elements inside us and around us, we see that we are not separate from the universe. This insight free us from the idea of birth and death.
Anxiety comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment.
Letting go is a practice that can bring us a lot of happiness.
What is essential is to be alive and present to all the wonders of life that are available.
Threefold training: precepts, concentration, and insight.
The practice of the precepts is the practice of Right Mindfulness. If we don’t practice the precepts, we are not practicing mindfulness. The heart of the Buddhist Meditation is the practice of mindfulness and mindfulness is the practice of the precepts.
Look deeply at your hand and see the Buddha Eye in it. The hand represents action and the eye represents insight and understanding.