“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of your state of mind.”
The subconscious mind of a person can have both good and evil. The evil gets attracted to the dark thoughts whenever it can find the chance to catch a person off-guard and can take control of a person’s mind. And also as we live our everyday lives and come into constant contact with others, we tend to be swayed by an incessant flow of thoughts, and it is difficult to guard your thoughts and to know the true self that lies deep within us. So how can you achieve a right state of mind to connect to your true self?
To attune your mind to a right state, you need to examine your state of mind as compared to more serene nature or the true self. When you reflect deeply on your own mind and kind of thoughts you have as you do when you sit in meditation, the part of you that is true and honest will emerge. This is your true Buddha nature or your authentic self. Examining your own thoughts and deeds from the perspective of this “true self’ is the very essence of Noble Eightfold Path.
Noble Eightfold Path, in Buddhism is an early formulation of the path to enlightenment. The idea of Eightfold Path appears in what is regarded as the first sermon of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama known as Buddha which he delivered after he attained his enlightenment through meditation. He began to feel that in order to convey the enlightenment he attained, he needed to develop an expedient method that would appeal to the hearts of people. He also felt the need to teach the truth in a way that was different from others of those times. His teachings are centred on an objective of attaining a ‘right’ state of mind through self-reflection. Here are the eight check points of Noble Eightfold path against which you can examine your thoughts and actions and can attain ‘right’ state through contemplation.
Seeing rightly means seeing things as they truly are without any bias, delusions or distortions, and being free of all prejudice. Seeing in Right View is about how to perceive what you have seen and each one has a different view of the action of others. It is important to know how to reflect objectively on how you perceive what you see. By reflecting both on positive and negative points of view, you can manage to trace the basic reasons for a negative way of seeing others and their actions. This way, you can remove negative thinking by analysing things according to the laws of cause and effect.
Thoughts come and go in the mind all day long like waves. The first important step you need to take is to know your thoughts. If you find you have been harbouring wrong thoughts, you need to admit to this and try to correct the mistakes you have made in your thinking. Taking some time to be quiet and reflecting on the thoughts that have been on your mind, you can achieve ‘right’ state of mind and can regularly check and can make an effort to correct your thoughts.
Words we speak can be a good indicator of the character of the person who utters them. If you are worried or feeling depressed, you are more likely to utter negative words. These words bring unhappiness to you as well as others. So examining the kinds of words you have used during the day can be a useful checkpoint for self-reflection. Right Speech is abstinence from lies, deceptions, backbiting and abusive speech.
Right Action is interpreted as a right way of working. It is important to check whether the objective of your work has right conscience and is in alignment with your ‘true self’. In doing your work, you should maintain harmonious relationships and aim for the happiness of a greater number of people. Practicing right action that is honest, peaceful and compassionate can bring you ‘right’ state of mind.
Right Effort is making a diligent effort on the path of truth. To practice right effort is to ask yourself whether you are making a constant effort towards your self-development. Seek to make the balance between following the spiritual path and s moderate life that is not over-zealous and to develop a wholesome state of mind.
Right livelihood is using your time, each month and each year in the right and effective way. Self-reflection from the perspective of living a fulfilled life or living rightly is to reflect on each day of your life. Through this practice, you will probably find a great deal in yourself that could be improved. By avoiding work that causes suffering to others and by living virtuously, you can achieve ‘right’ state of mind.
The discipline of Right Mindfulness is reflecting on what your dreams or goals are and also what is the ideal image you have of yourself in your own mind. The discipline of Right Mindfulness is controlling your will power that is directed towards these set objectives which are right and are in the spirit of happiness and success of others as well. Being mindful of your thought, speech and action, you can get rid of self-centered thoughts.
No matter how well informed you maybe, no matter how highly developed your intellectual abilities, without right concentration, you cannot attain right state of mind. When you attain Right Concentration , your potential of your mind increases. By self-reflecting on the path of Right Concentration, you can identify with your inner self as an integral part of your outer world.
Your true self is an underlying, basic, and most subtle nature of mind. By reflecting on your true nature and bringing about discipline within the mind by following these eight disciplines, you can live a life that is in accordance with your ‘true self’.
Carve out some time each day either in the evenings or at the break of the day to examine your thoughts and actions on each of these checkpoints. Pay attention to your resistances and examine yourself when frustrations or fears surface. Accept responsibility for your mistakes, attitudes and emotions. Make being virtuous as your priority with simple behavioural patterns if required. Perfecting the eight disciplines paves way to know your true self and putting them into action leads to further self-development, awareness, new choices, and new changes in thought.
Next: The Beginner’s Mind