The Eightfold Path
Is the eightfold path important to you? Do you follow it?
I know that you are not "supposed" to want something from your meditation practice, but I do. I don't want to be enlightened, I just want a small amount of simple everyday happiness. I try to stay mindful of the eightfold path because I believe that it is a path to true, non-grasping happiness. It's "non-grasping" because it doesn't involve the things that most people consider will make them happy... a new job, more money, a new lover, etc. Those things aren't bad, it's just that they won't "make" you happy.
The eightfold path leads logically from the four noble truths of Buddhism.
1) Life is suffering (dis-satisfaction).
2) Suffering is caused by desire.
3) To eliminate desire is to eliminate suffering.
4) Desire is eliminated by following the eightfold path.
I like this. It's pretty simple. If you're not familiar with the eightfold path, you can read more about it here. Here's a quick run-down on how I think I'm doing on each one.
1) Right View -- This one is definitely more of a process, and I'm working on it. I recognize the four noble truths, and I think my meditation practice and efforts at compassion (understanding) for others helps me to try to see things as they are.
2) Right Intention -- Again, I'm working on this one. I feel lots of desires, lots of anger, aversion, etc. Practice, practice, practice.
3) Right Speech -- I lie sometimes. That's not good. I use sarcasm, criticism, and I sometimes gossip. Ditto on the not-goodness. Lots of work to do.
4) Right Action -- I'm no thug, but let's just say I have work to do here also, as far as acting more "kindly and compassionately" to others.
5) Right Livelihood -- This is one I can actually say I have covered. I'm an internet-fraud analyst. Every day I help to stop fraudsters and to make the internet a somewhat safer place.
6) Right Effort -- Well, I'm trying, right? By staying mindful of the eightfold path, I fulfill this one. This one also seems to include recognizing and interupting negative patterns of behavior (samskaras) in yourself. This is a whole other post, but I'm working on this too.
7) Right Mindfulness -- I rely on my meditation practice to help me grow in this one. It helps to decrease the filters of desires/aversions/etc and to see myself and the world around me more as they are.
8) Right Concentration -- Same answer as #7.