The Eightfold Path

Next on the list is the Eightfold Path, a topic that has already been discussed by many other Dharma masters. During my discourse on the Maha Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra, I delivered a detailed discussion on the Eightfold Path, which is one of the truths of the Four Noble Truths. You may read up on that book when it comes out to get a more detailed treatment on this subject. Here I will just briefly list them: `correct view,` `correct thought,` `correct speech,` `correct livelihood,` `correct conduct,` `correct zeal,` `correct memory,` and `correct meditation or absorption.` Many Buddhists know that the Eightfold Path refers to the eight methods taught by the Buddha as the correct means to reach Buddhahood. By following the Path, one will not become distracted, fall astray, or end up in an `evil tavern.`

I will reiterate what I have discussed today. The Seven Branches of Enlightenment are: Investigation, Effort, Joy, Mindfulness, Alert Ease, Samadhi, and Relinquishing. The Eightfold Path is: correct view, correct thought, correct speech, correct livelihood, correct conduct, correct zeal, correct memory, and correct meditation.

What I have covered so far are the most important topics in the study of the Buddhadharma. What the Buddhadharma encompasses is, of course, very broad. For example, each of the ten Buddhist schools has numerous texts of its own. When one decides on a certain pathway, after making an investigation, one should then orient one`s life toward that goal. A Tantric practitioner should concentrate on Tantric practices, while a general knowledge of the other nine schools would be quite sufficient. When one attains Enlightenment, one automatically understands the theories in the other schools.

For example, in the past, I found the classical Chinese language to be very difficult. The Chinese Buddhist sutras are written in a much simpler language. The writing of Liao Chai Chih I [The Chronicle of Ghost Stories] –a classical work ?is intricate and abstruse. In the course of my vigorous reading of the Chinese classics, I laid aside the ones that were difficult and first read the ones that I could more easily understand. Strangely, when I finished reading everything else and came back to Liao Chai Chih Yi, I found I could understand it without having first translated it into modern day language. I can now read the abstruse classics and understand the profound meanings behind each word. What kind of phenomenon is this? It is the same with Dharma practice: success in one single Dharma practice leads to success in all Dharma practices. In the past, I have found the Diamond Sutra to be an abstruse work. The analogy of the Dharma and the raft, to which I referred earlier, was beyond my comprehension. In the sutra, the Buddha says, `Anyone claiming that I have delivered any teachings is vilifying me.` The Buddha taught for forty-nine years, why did he disclaim it? In the future I can also make this statement, `I have never discussed any Dharma at the Rainbow Villa. If you claim that I have done so, you are being slanderous.` Is it really this simple? No, it is not. When you read and understand its subtle meaning, you will experience the Dharma Taste. Interwoven into its subtlety is the Dharma Taste.

Now when I pick up and read a sutra with which I had difficulties before, I find I can understand it completely. I know what the Thus Come One [tathagata] means. [audience applause] Why is this so? Because the state of mind I now possess is not the same as before. I am now abiding in a state of Realization. Through the deep and intensive practice of one single Tantric practice, I opened up my heart. When I use this heart (mind) of Realization to read the Buddhist sutras, I am able to intuitively understand their meanings.[audience applause]

If you want to read the entire Buddhist Canon and research all the Buddhist theories first before attempting any single practice, you might find that several lifetimes would be required. Although Hu Shih [a famous Chinese scholar] made a study of Zen Buddhism, he did not engage in any actual practice. In the end, what he attained was just the knowledge of Zen, and not any true Realization.

When you attain Realization, you will be able to intuit the meanings of all sutras. Therefore, achieving yogic response in one practice is tantamount to achieving yogic response in ten thousand practices. Devote yourself deeply to one single practice, and you will achieve great accomplishments. The key word, therefore, is `depth` and not `width,` as attested by the following statements of the Buddha`s. `The benefit of actual practice surpasses that of a wide seeking of knowledge,` and `Engaging in one single practice is more effective than doing multiple practices at the same time.`

Earlier, one of you called out, `One is many.` Perhaps that is why yesterday at the exercise ground, that student only performed one movement each on the single and parallel bars. When he was pressed to go on, he responded, `One is many!` [audience laughter] Since he sounded so convincing, how could I not believe him! [audience laughter]

The truth is, once one attains Realization, one will see clearly into everything as if it were transparent. Prior to Enlightenment (even though one may be engaged in many practices) things will still appear `opaque.` Therefore, one should concentrate on one single practice at a time to penetrate it deeply. This is the principle behind the study of the Buddhadharma.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

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