In my previous post The End of Suffering #1, I tried to show how Right Understanding could help alleviate suffering. In this post, I would like to illustrate how Right Thought the second element of the Noble Eightfold Path also contributes to the end of suffering. Remember the Buddha taught that those that master the elements of the Nobel Eightfold Path will end suffering and even attain enlightenment.
So just what is Right Thought (Samma sankappa)? The following is a pretty decent definition:
Right thought denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love and thoughts of non-violence, which are extended to all beings. It is very interesting and important to note here that thoughts of selfless detachment, love and non-violence are grouped on the side of wisdom. This clearly shows that true wisdom is endowed with these noble qualities, and that all thoughts of selfish desire, ill-will, hatred, and violence are the result of a lack of wisdom in all spheres of life whether individual, social, or political.
Right Thought provides the wisdom we need to stay detached and extend love to those we encounter. As we mentioned in The End of Suffering #1 our suffering is manifested in our attachment to things. With the “right thoughts”, we are able to break the chains of attachment by being more detached from things and people. Right Thought provides us to view the world in a more selfless way, leading with love and compassion towards humanity.
As you cultivate “right thought” you begin to look at your thinking more critically, which helps you understand when you are deviating from the path of detachment, selflessness, and love. When you begin to catch yourself becoming angry or selfish you are on the path to mastering “right thought”.
One of the interesting aspects of the Noble Eightfold Path is that none of the eight aspects of the path operate independently. Without “right understanding” it would be impossible to attain “right thought”. So once you understand the cause of suffering with “right understanding” you can begin to do something about it by controlling your thoughts. More importantly, you begin to think with the right intentions as we mentioned selfless, detached, and loving.
I would suggest that you will not reach a state of right intention or right thought, where one day you are an angry selfish person and then the next day you magically practice 100% right thoughts becoming selfless and loving overnight. This like all the other aspects of the path must be cultivated one day at a time.
I wish you all the luck as you follow the path and may all be well with you.
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