The eightfold path breaks down the aspects of life, and elaborates on how they are reached and what they are like. Most schools of Buddhist thought are not “dogmatic”, so you can find many texts with very broad opinions, even by modern authors. This is no break from Buddhist teaching. They refer to life in general as dharma, roughly meaning duty, or the way you live. This is much like the original meaning of the word ‘religion’, which in Latin was used to denote any body of practices, similar to the word ‘regimen’.
Eight Fold Path
- Right View
- Right Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
These are not dogmas, they are terms used to describe phenomenon discovered in practice. There are lesser, but not unvalued states described in Buddhism, and as you see them they reveal the principles of the eightfold path. In a sense, they can be considered temporary enlightenments. The core teachings of liberation differ rather much from religious atonement or salvation, in that they aren’t a “reward”, and not necessarily permanent. They vary with the clarity of the seeker. The Buddha’s enlightenment endured because he found the “heart” of the principle, true nirvana. But he had found steps along the way, and this is what his sutras elaborate on. Sutra roughly translates as teaching, or sermon. Reciting sutras is roughly akin to prayer in Buddhist circles.
Is Buddhism related to Taoism, or are those two completely separate? They aren’t directly related, nor are they contradictory. Many Buddhist teachers old and new embraced Taoism as a way of understanding the world and helping people with practicing.
Many see the ’suffering’ notion of Buddhism as dark? Yes, Buddhism is often accused of nihilism, but it doesn’t truly teach that anything is meaningless, or that life shouldn’t be engaged and lived fully.
My understanding is that there is an ultimate goal with Buddhism, a particular state of mind? No, Buddhism learns from mind states, but the goal of Buddhism is more than a mind state. It is more of a realization of the dynamic of the mind. There is a lot of description of this realization. The state of nirvana isn’t an empty trance. It’s having any thought, and experience, and not being disturbed. Not seeking, not fleeing. Being, and living.
When this goal is attained only then we can choose whether or not to be reborn? Otherwise we will be reborn by conditioning, and habit. We are in the habit of being human. We are in the habits of the flesh.
So we can go beyond being human? What we are is beyond ego. No concept of self is sufficient. So even the idea of human is a stumbling block.
It is that we can access a different part of our humanness? Basically yes, you aren’t ceasing to be what you are.
Being human is not a bad thing, is it? No, it isn’t a bad thing, but your view of being human may differ very much from the next persons. Your view of being who you are may not even seem human if it were seen from another’s point of view.
Our goal is to use highest energies, soul, god? In a sense. In Buddhism you come to understand that you don’t necessarily have to use. The judgement of utility isn’t necessary. You discover those higher energies, and with an understanding you relax. You become more peaceful, and express them naturally without blocking. This is perhaps the essence of why Buddhism teaches non attachment, not because you are in any way forbidden to use things, but the utility thinking narrows your view. You say this has this purpose, and only this purpose.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.