Advice on Treading the Buddhist Path
The Buddha’s teaching was given to help people find true happiness by putting an end to suffering. True happiness is attained by doing certain things and leaving certain things undone. The following has been adapted from various sources on how to tread the Buddhist path.
To make far-reaching plans as though we were going to establish permanent residence in this world, instead of living as though each day were the last, is foolish.
Sorrow and misfortune are teachers that convince us of the need to lead a religious life.
Reflecting upon the miseries which all sentient beings suffer will encourage us to attain liberation.
There is no real happiness outside of enlightenment.
It should be realised that all sorrows are the result of past actions.
Reflecting upon the nature of cause and effect will encourage us to avoid unskilful and unwise actions.
Avoid those actions which harm the mind and impede spiritual development.
Freedom from desire and attachment is necessary if we wish to be free of suffering.
Refrain from harming any living thing.
Eating meat is like eating one’s own children.
We should consider that all sentient beings are no other than the Buddha himself.
Refrain from earning a living by means of deceit and theft.
Unless all ambitions are eradicated, we are likely to fall into the error of allowing ourselves to be dominated by worldly motives.
It is useless devoting our lives to the acquisition of worldly things, seeing that when death comes we must relinquish even our own bodies.
Instead of hankering after the transitory pleasures of this life, we should devote ourselves to realising the eternal bliss of nirvana.
To enjoy a single moment of nirvanic bliss is more precious than to enjoy any amount of sensual bliss.
Be content with simple things and be free from craving for worldly possessions.
Hurt none by word or deed.
Reason, being one’s best friend, should not be abandoned.
It is not only necessary to understand the teaching; it is also necessary to apply it to our own needs.
Awareness and humility are required to keep body, speech and mind free from defilement.
Don’t ever dispute on religious belief.
Constantly maintain alertness of mind in walking, sitting, eating and sleeping.
It is good to train the wandering mind. A mind under control brings great happiness.
If great attachment, craving, or unwholesome mental states arise, make an effort to eradicate them as soon as possible.
It is good to abandon attachment to all things and attain knowledge of reality.
Cultivate friendliness, compassion, and wisdom.
Reflecting upon death and the impermanence of life will encourage us to live skilfully and without blame.
We can only acquire knowledge of the path by treading it.
Reflecting upon the uselessness of aimlessly frittering away our lives will encourage us to tread the path diligently.
To enter upon the path and not to tread it is foolish.
To know the precepts and not apply them to clearing away defilement is to be like a sick man who never takes his medicine.
To be idle and indifferent when the circumstances are favourable for realisation is foolish.
To be clever concerning precepts, yet ignorant of the experiences which come from applying them, is to be like a rich man who has lost the key of his treasury.
To enter upon the path and to cling to worldly feelings of attraction and aversion is foolish.
To live hypocritically is as stupid as poisoning our own food.
Without practical and adequate understanding of the teaching, we are likely to fall into the error of religious self-conceit.
Trying to reform others instead of reforming ourselves is an error.
Once spiritual knowledge has dawned, do not neglect it through laziness, but cultivate it vigorously.
Avoid concealing one’s own faults and broadcasting the faults of others.
Don’t boast of your own attainment, but apply it to the realisation of truth.
By permitting credulous admirers to congregate about us, we are likely to become puffed up with worldly pride.
Performing good actions merely to attain fame and praise is like exchanging the mystic wish-granting gem for a pellet of goat’s dung.
To cunningly praise ourselves while disparaging others is foolish.
To devote ourselves to selfish ambitions instead of working for the good of others is as foolish as a blind man allowing himself to become lost in a desert.
See all beings as on the way to their slaughter.
Fools think they harm themselves by putting others first.
One does no good to oneself by taking advantage of others.
If we slight others we harm ourselves.
Unless we are selfless and compassionate, we are likely to fall into the error of seeking liberation for ourselves alone.
If only the good of others is sought in all that we do, then it will be realised there is no need to seek any benefit for ourselves.
Helping others, however limited our abilities may be, should not be avoided.
The mind, imbued with compassion in thought and deed, should always be directed to the service of all sentient beings.
Reflecting upon the evils of life in the round of successive existences will encourage us to seek freedom from birth and death.
To spend our lives oscillating between hope and fear instead of understanding reality is an error.
Supreme enlightenment is easy to know—just cut yourself off from seizing upon false views.
When we understand the teachings, it is the same whether we meet with good fortune or with bad.
Those who tread the path should be indifferent to both comfort and hardship.
When we realise that all phenomena are illusory, then we realise there is no need to seek or reject anything.
When we are truly compassionate, it is the same whether we practise meditation in solitude or work for the good of others in the midst of society.
It is a great joy to realise that the path to freedom, which all the buddhas have trodden, is ever-present, ever-unchanged, and ever-open to those who are ready to enter upon it.
Straightforward action will lead us to liberation directly.
Study the teachings of the great sages of all sects impartially.
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Dhammapada, J. Austin, (ed.), 1983, The Buddhist Society, London.
The Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom, E. Conze, 1975, University of California Press.
The Path of Freedom, Rev. N.R.M. Ehara, et al., 1977, BPS.
Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, W.Y. EvansWentz (ed.), 1969, OUP.
Tibet’s Great Yogi Milarepa, W.Y. Evans-Wentz (ed.), 1969, OUP.
The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui Neng, Wong Mou-Lam (trans.), 1969, Shambhala.
The Lankavatara Sutra, D.T. Suzuki (trans.), 1973, RKP.
Thank you all :)
11 yr olds will certainly understand; the earlier the better – as with most things it is also down to our example!
Buddhism teaches us to accept all feelings, however difficult or unpleasant but at the same time not to act on strong feelings such as anger!
Yes I agree. I have an 11 yo who gets very angry when playing online games with other people and they “cheat”. I try to explain that he is hurting himself by getting angry and it is his own doing. He blames the “cheater” for making him angry. Any advice on how to help him?? I understand an 11 yo has a limited capacity for accepting these things.
Just keep explaining the best you can. One day the penny will drop, with luck.
All the best,
I am having trouble with my feelings on emotions in regards to being buddhist. I feel human beings should be 100% responsible for their emotions. Is this the way buddism teaches it? I would appreciate any insight.
Emotions are emotions CS, no need to beat yourself up about them.
Thank you for the wisdom
When advanced practitioners say they meditate for stretches of for example 20 hours, do they go to the toilet and eat, I don’t see how it is possible unless they might still be in meditation during these fundamental activities.
When meditating, life goes on in the present, irrelevant of meditating for half an hour or forever.
I’ve noticed I struggle with letting go of people I focos on all the good they’ve done and all of the wonderful times and I just can’t move on I keep trying to bring back what I’ve had. Any advice on letting go?
As we meditate we start to see our habits. Once seen, it’s much easier to free ourselves from them.
Little issue. Recent years have led me to Buddhism. I live in a rural town in Australia with no like minded people. I am weird because I am a Vegetarian and abhor the killing of sentient beings. No matter – it is my life. To discover, I visited Mongolia in 2014, Tibet/China in 2015. I met wonderful and enlightened people including Monks. Yet, in these places, many did not seem to abide by Buddha’s wishes. I am going to Japan in March. I’ve found out they too are not Vegetarian. I worry because I cannot eat food their food. How do I keep my faith with the Buddha? In Tibet, I was given, as a great privilege, prayer beads from Napal. I keep them with me. I was told to say on each bead “O ma ni pe mei hung”. The translation is lose. What do you say it means? I try to follow the Four Noble Truths, I try to Take Refuge in the Three Jewels, I try to abandon the Ten Non-Virtuous Actions, Practice The Path and Embrace the Four Seals. With help, I ask Buddha to show me the Eight Fold Path. It is lonely. I’m not good at meditating – just can’t sit still. I would welcome a Guide.
We can just do our best Nicki, what others do is not our business.
One would recommend The Sacred Lotus Flower Sutta, start at chapter 10 The Expounder of the Dharma, read till end then start at beginning till back to chapter 10. After the Lotus, read The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra , Try meditating about 10 mins a day out in nature if possible.
I’ve been raised Christian, a friend introduced me to buddha. I have been reading a lot on if there is really a Jesus.found lot of facts wished I didn’t uncover.i have been so confused through the years .I fined that meditation helps me, but I don’t know what to believe any more.is buddhism a religion I find the facts seem more true to me and a new path.asking for help and whole lot of questions from anyone thank you sam
Buddhism is not an evangelical movement Sam, it’s about living your life skilfully. Find out what helps you, and put it into practice.
I am not sure if you are going to be able to see this since this post is quite old.
I have been meditating for around 2.5 years. This year has been especially difficult, because I learned that my ego has been “out of control”.
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How can I be good to the world if I don’t use my skills? Does everyone have to become a monk (nun, in my case) in order to be complied with Buddhism enlightenment? Am I doing something wrong? I know that the answer is within me, but right now I feel lost, and I’d love to find some guidance. Thank you! Any help would be deeply appreciate it..
Does everyone have to become a monk (nun, in my case)? No, as Bodhidharma said, ‘Mind doesn’t appear as a monk or a layman, an elder or a novice, a sage or a fool, a Buddha or a mortal.’
Also take a look at ‘Ego and Mindfulness‘, by Corrado Pensa
I’ve been meditating for years (incl. Tibetan-Buddhist meditation, Vipassana, Bali Usada and meditation techniques based on the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda, etc.). I’ve read books of many, mainly Indian guru’s and was involved with spiritual movements of Hindu, Buddhist and Universal Sufi signature but there is just one thing that I find so difficult to understand and I really do hope that someone can explain that to me. Although I’m convinced that this world, universe and life is just a manifestation of the truth and that I should become more detached, but I find it so hard to do that when there’s so much suffering around me, when innocent people all over the world are being tortured, killed, children are being kidnapped and abused, enslaved… when tsunamis, tornado’s break families apart and planes are downed whether or not by mistake. How can I just look the other way, and say to myself: don’t worry, this is not really happening, it’s all a dream, so just smile and be happy. I simply can’t. Oh yes, it happens to me from time to time, when for whatever reason I feel depressed and then I meditate and the negative feelings dissolve bit by bit and I even start to feel happy. But then I get my cellphone and on the train on my way to work I start reading the news and then the whole world’s sufferings seem to come down on my shoulders again. I often feel tears coming up reading about disasters and personal drama’s. What do you suggest, should I just stop reading the news? And unsubscribe to Amnesty International so that I won’t be confronted any longer with all the sorrow in the world? I don’t think it will help if you tell me that I should not take things all too personal.
I so much want to understand and to know how to deal with it so I really hope you have the answer for me. Thank you in advance.
Take a look at Compassion without Drowning, by Diana St Ruth.
Then try Suffering Ends, by Ajahn Sumedho
There are some other posts on Compassion, just click here.
You will need to meditate on these and after a while something else will arise.
This should help with your suffering and seeing the suffering of others.
Thank you so much! I will definitely follow your advice!
I have found what helps me is to NOT watch the news or anything lIke it. Try not to surround yourself with anything that has negative energy until you can learn to better deal with it and accept it for what it is.
Greetings to all! I am just recently starting to read up on Buddhism and Buddhist practice. I feel that I need it in my life and that those around me would greatly benefit from it. I’m only half-way through my first book and already I’ve found so many helpful practices that I can apply to myself every day.
There is one thing that I am completely stuck on. I am a big time animal lover. When I hear or read about horrible stories involving animal cruelty, I get myself so worked up that I end up physically ill/sick to my stomach. No matter what I do to try to clear my mind, I am mentally tormented with such horrible thoughts of what the animals went through. It breaks my heart.
Would anyone have any advice on how I can better cope with these kinds of instances? Some way to flip those thoughts and not allow myself to get so upset.
Any information provided will truly be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much.
Take a look at some of these post on metta.
They will help you deal with your anguish, and then develop a mind of compassion towards the animals instead of hurting yourself.
This is not to deny the suffering at all, give it a try and see what happens.
Thank you kindly for the quick response and your suggestion of metta practice. I will do my best and welcome positive change.
Dear Missy, this may help too Animals do Zazen Naturally, by Zen Master Kozan Kato
I do a lot of animal rights and welfare activism online, so I know too well the difficulties of stress reduction after particularly tough cases. I’ve learned to channel most negative emotions and distress into a state of dedicated resolve; redirecting painful emotional energy into a dedicated higher purpose, found through meditation. Working through such stressful encounters as this with mindfulness, gives me positive energy I can apply towards the ongoing mission.
Thank you for a beautiful blog!
Greetings hope all is well i want to study Buddism and was wondering what i the best book to start reading and is it in libraries in usa i dont have much money and was wondering if there is a place i can look up that donates books to people with low income
thank you much for any help u offer
Load of books on Buddhism Frank, why not start by learning to meditate? Try ‘First steps into Buddhist meditation’ click here.
Also look at the posts for newcomers here.
Hope this helps.
I’ve got a bad temper and I’d love to know how to deal with it, I’m not a buddhist myself but most buddhists seem to have a calm nature and I thought this would be the best way to control my temper.
Think of it this way, ‘when we lose our temper, we lose our happiness along with it’, see how things change.
You could also try this Liberating Emotions, by Ajahn Sumedho.
“It should be realised that all sorrows are the result of past actions.”
How do you help someone who are dispress that cannot turn off his/her negative thinkings? How do you help someone focus more on the present, instead of the past? Do you have a correct positive thinking remedy and meditation video for such people?
Maria, try this Contemplate your own goodness, by Ajahn Sumedho to begin with.
As human beings we have choice. We choose to sit in meditation and we choose to abstain from eating animal products simply because we can. And we know, without question, that it is an act that is true to the first precept and causes less suffering by default. (The more of us who make such a choice.). Then we resume our place on the cushion and do not get drawn into it. It is, after all, just a choice.
I think if you are welcoming they will feel very comfortable. If you are not Buddhist, putting objects around the house might lead to some awkward questions. They will appreciate the genuine you more, and then both of you will be able to share your cultures and beliefs naturally. You questions tell me you are very caring, so I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful experience with them.
We have two wonderful exchange students staying in our home for 5 days and I want them to feel comfortable being so far away from home. They are both Buddhist, should I add spiritual pieces to their room or to our home to make them feel more at home?
Not sure I’d do that.
As they are exchange students why not introduce them to the best of your own country and culture. And in exchange ask them about theirs and about Buddhism.
Hope this helps a bit.
What’s Buddhism’s views on sex..
Buddhist monastic Sangha (order of monks and nuns) are on the whole celibate.
Not an issue for non monks or nuns. If you get caught up in passion notice how this disturbs your mind, and sometimes takes control of your life. Main thing is not to let anything become the drive in your life.
Take a look at Foundations of Buddhism—some notes click here
Hope this helps,
Great article , Thank you .
To give the thought… To eat meat is like eating ones own children.. is absolutely the most ridicoulus thought. I can tell you right here and right now… that thought did not come from someone who knows themself. It burns me up that people can generate such none sense and have others follow it in the name of some forced practice or religion.
A better thought .. a thought from knowing that all is the same life, might be… the life in that animal is the life that I am also. In that recognition one lives from what one hears within themselves….
How about finding out who you are first, thus opening yourself up to all that you are and living from this… other wise you better not run out of paper or else you won’t have place to write down all those made up rules.
Thank you for these potent reminders
What a wonderful expression of Buddhist values. Thank you!
I have a question. Your article says eating meat is like eating one’s own children. I don’t remember the Buddha saying we shouldn’t eat meat. Since your post refers to the Buddha’s teaching, I’m a bit confused. Could you advise where He said this?
Another person wrote that the Tibetans eat meat. I wasn’t aware about the Tibetans, though I know the Thais also eat meat, and so, I assume, would those in other Theravadan countries. I am also aware that the Buddha and his disciples ate meat, so it would be interesting to know which particular author wrote the saying quoted about eating one’s own children. It seems rather extreme.
The Buddha advised his followers not to kill. He also said don’t eat an animal that had been purposely killed for you.
Anyone who would like to know more can download To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist Case For Becoming Vegetarian. By Philip Kapleau
Also see chapter 8 of the Lankavatara Sutra
Take care of yourself.
You have written very well what is important and what also was indicated by the Buddha.
I accept your knowledge with gratitude. Thank you for helping me learn.
Great summary and compilation. Very useful for sharing with others that often ask for a concise explanation of Buddhism.
Wonderful site. Thanks so much for sharing the Dharma.
my recent obstacle today was this job offer that pays well but within me it’s not what i want for myself.. and wouldn’t help with my path for it will only lead me to participate in the mundane view of money as self..
Thank you. For today, one breath at a time, one step at a time. This was the breath I needed to let go of something that is of no importance.
Thanks Eddie, not just for the link but for the help you gave when we were setting up on WordPress.
You’re welcome. I like the organisation and layout, and the content, of course :)