Gautama Buddha, October 1, 2006.
The true definition of the eightfold path
You see, my beloved, when you rise above duality, you clearly see that there is something that is unreal. But that which is unreal is not in opposition to that which is real, as that which is humanly wrong is in opposition to that which is humanly right.
That which is unreal is simply unreal. It is outside reality, separate from reality. But it is not and cannot be in opposition to reality. For that which is real can have no opposition.
Nothing can threaten that which is real.
Thus, the first step on the spiritual path is to reach for something beyond duality. And that is what Jesus expressed so beautifully when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his right-eousness.” Seek ye first the higher “right” of God. This is also what I expressed in the definition of the eightfold path. So many Buddhists have misinterpreted the eightfold path and believe that it can be defined in human terms. What is right livelihood. What is right action. What is right thought. What is right association and so on.
But you see, the true definition of the eightfold path is that you reach for the “right” of God that is beyond duality. But how can you reach for that right, that higher right? Well, you can do so only when you realize the noble truth that everything that springs from duality causes suffering, and that the cause of suffering is wrong desire that is based on an attachment to the things of this world, be it the sensual pleasures or the desire to be right in a human sense and feel that you are better than those whom you define as wrong because they are different from you or hold opposite views from you.
Oh my beloved, there are so many people on this planet who spend their entire lives seeking to establish this sense of superiority of being better than others. They always see themselves as being in competition with others and this goes from the so-called ordinary people, who are, as the saying goes, seeking to keep up with the Joneses, in having better houses, bigger cars and more material goods. And it goes all the way up to the people in the power elite who are seeking to have more power than those other people in those other power elite groups with whom they are comparing themselves.
My beloved, you can spend lifetimes on this senseless quest of seeking to be thought right among men. Or you can reach up for the reality of being right with God. Yet in order to be right with God you must be willing to consciously and willfully choose to let go of your attachments to the things in the material realm. For as long as you are attached to being right with other people, to being popular or not to be seen as an outcast or ridiculed for your beliefs, or your lifestyle or your actions, as long as you are attached to anything, any appearance in this world, to your standing among human beings, then you will not be free to grasp the higher right of God or to express that right.
So my beloved, I taught 2,500 years ago, that non-attachment is the key to peace of mind. And that teaching is true. It is timeless. It is eternal. Yet as Jesus has pointed out, there is no teaching expressed in words that the human ego cannot pervert. For anything expressed in words can be taken by the dualistic mind and interpreted according to this extreme or that extreme or even the false concept of the Middle Way as something that is right between the two dualistic extremes.
So you see my beloved, even the concept of the Middle Way can be misinterpreted. For truly, I never told people to come to the midpoint between the two dualistic extremes. I taught them to transcend the entire scale of duality, the entire consciousness of duality. And this is the essence of Buddhahood. Yet to transcend duality you must be willing to let go of the desires, the beliefs, the attachments that spring from duality. And thus you must come to the point where you love the right of God more than the right of man.
And this must in the end be a conscious decision you make. Truly, not everyone is ready to make that decision. But certainly those who are the spiritual people are ready or can quickly become ready. And if you will contemplate these concepts, you will come to a point where you feel a spontaneous, inner surge of love for the higher reality of God that suddenly makes it easy to let go of some attachment. And once you realize how easy it is to let go of one attachment, you can build a momentum of letting go of the attachments as quickly as you see them.