I am just writing this super short post on my new personal project for the year. The Buddhist wheel or whatever you may call it actually refers to the eightfold path, or the eight ways of thinking or living a mindful life or mindful path. This path enables the person walking it to become compassionate, mindful and eventually it will help lead you to enlightenment. There is a lot more tot he eight fold path than what I’ve just explained here, so over time, the next 8 months to be precise I shall explain what each spoke on the wheel means to the everyday Buddhist, and what they mean to me. I am also attempting to work on my mind patterns, in order to live a better life. Right now, life is quite difficult, but the only things I need to focus on to keep happy are college, my friends and my life. The first lesson you learn is all about living in the now and being grateful for what you have, but the most important gift you have is the breath, so I’m focusing even more on that small feature.
I have taken up a small exercise from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism, shown below, in order to learn how to just stop and bask in the moment as it were. What you need is a piece of paper and fold it in half three times, then open in out and on one side write all of the eight words of the path onto each segment, as follows:
The wheel itself has no beginning, middle or end and this simulates life itself through the view of impermanence. When you meditate, focus on the breath or focus on one of the phrases slowly, once at a time. Try and learn to live in the now. As time goes on, you should jot down keywords or phrases that you are emotionally connected to. The habits, vices and virtuous slogans you want to either adapt or change or learn to live with. For example, where you put ‘Speech’ you may like to put ‘swearing’ or ‘gossip’. Where you have put ‘Concentration’ you may like to put ‘don’t read while eating’ or ‘look at the clouds when sitting outside’ as daily reminders. Write these other phrases on the back of each section, as if creating flash cards.
I’m not sure how I’ll be, and if you attempt this idea too, then realise you are human. This road won’t be perfect, and you should welcome that ideal. Let me share a story from the book:
A passing stranger encountered some Buddhist monks in a forest. He asked what they were doing. A monk stopped to explain that they were Buddhists and that he and his fellow monks were cutting wood. “Wait. I cut wood, too, for my fire,” said the man. “I don’t see anything extraordinary about that.” “Well, sir,” the monk replied, “when we cut wood, we know we are cutting wood. We don’t cut wood to build a fire. We cut wood to cut wood.” The monk smiled, and added, “If we can’t cut wood, how then can we build a fire?” Then he resumed his work, and the man went on his way. – Gary Gach.
Wish me luck =P