Being Nobody, Going Nowhere Meditations on the Buddhist Path by Ayya Khema

The book required concentration and could not be read like one reads a novel. A few points struck me and have listed them out. This is not a review but more like a summary as I understood it.

The Buddha said there is only one cause, one reason we experience suffering, and that’s craving. We have three cravings and all others are connected with them. These three are craving for existence, craving for self-annihilation, and craving for sensual gratification. Control of the cravings helps in dealing with suffering.

The first and second noble truths show us that we are living a life of futility.

Most people look for a solution out somewhere. Instead, we should look inside, and that will eventually lead to the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering, which is liberation. The Buddha never really explained what liberation is. He did say what it is not.

He explained this with a story of a turtle and fish.

The Eightfold path

  1. Right view

Right view also means having an understanding of kamma, namely taking full responsibility for what happens to oneself, not blaming others, or circumstances, or anything outside oneself.

There are two right views: the understanding of kamma and of the need to effect a change in oneself in order to get out of suffering. Five ways of dealing with suffering are listed with the fifth being the most appropriate path.

The anecdote of brahmins hurling abuses at Buddha and his reply is a good story to remember. The learning from this: Any abuse, anger, or threat belongs to the one who is uttering it. We don’t have to accept it.

  1. Right intention

There are three aspects to right intention: renunciation, loving-kindness, and harmlessness. An interesting aspect of intentions is that they are like icebergs: one-third out of the water, two-thirds under water. We can only see their tips.

  1. Right speech, right action, and right livelihood follow attention.

Right speech and action will be practised with the right intention. Right livelihood entails not indulging in killing, lying, drinking intoxicants, and taking what is not one’s own.

  1. Right effort

With energy, effort arises. The Buddha recommended the four supreme efforts.

These are extremely difficult to practice. –  Not to let an unwholesome thought arise, if it arises do not let it continue. Let a wholesome thought arise and let it continue.

  1. Right mindfulness

Right mindfulness means that one is aware and attentive all the time.

The four foundations of mindfulness are mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feeling mindfulness of thought and mindfulness of mind.

Whenever we speak without purpose, mindfulness and clear comprehension are abandoned. So speak purposefully.

  1. Right concentration

Right concentration stands at the end because it needs all the other factors in order to function and constitutes the means for achieving penetrating insight.

A book one should read to be mindful and gain inner peace.

Published by Dr. Pramila Kudva

I am a teacher educator currently worrking as a Principal of a reputed school in North Mumbai, have more than 30 years of experience, with several publications to my credit and have authored a book -"From chalk to Talk The Art of Teaching.

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