I would say that in the East we have a tendency toward greater self-mortification and in the West we have a tendency toward greater self-indulgence. We do need the Middle Way.
Gautama taught that this Middle Way leads to six conditions of consciousness. They are insight, wisdom, calmness, higher knowledge, enlightenment and nirvana.
The Four Noble Truths of Gautama Buddha
Gautama Buddha proceeded to teach his disciples the Four Noble Truths: First, that life is dukkha, “suffering.” Second, that the cause of this suffering is tanha, “desire” or “craving.” Third, that suffering will cease when the craving that causes it is forsaken and overcome.
This state of liberation through the cessation of suffering leads to nirvana, which means literally extinction or blowing out—the blowing-out of the not self. The Fourth Noble Truth is that the way to this liberation is through living the Noble Eightfold Path, or the Middle Way.
The Eightfold Path of Gautama Buddha
The first step on the Eightfold Path is to have right understanding, or right views. The second is right aspiration, right thought, or right resolve. Third is right speech. Fourth is right action, or right conduct. Fifth is right livelihood. Sixth is right effort. Seventh is right mindfulness, and eighth is right concentration, or right absorption.
These eight points of self-mastery are the endowment of your Holy Christ Self. Know this Holy Christ Self as your Real Self, and know your Real Self as possessing all of these attributes. Know that your Real Self has developed them to the full level of Christ-mastery and adeptship and is waiting for you to receive them.
As you put on these attributes in daily striving and attentiveness to the precepts of the Law, you are putting on the robes of righteousness of your True Self. You are putting on your deathless solar body, which Jesus referred to as the wedding garment. You weave this wedding garment by the practice of these eight right attitudes.
Eight Points of the Law
These eight points of the Law fulfill the seven rays of the seven chakras and the eighth ray and chakra, which is the secret chamber of the heart.
1 – Right Understanding
The first is right understanding, right viewpoint, right perspective—being centered neither to the left nor the right in relative thinking but being centered in God. This is a quality that is developed through the heart chakra and the third ray, whose color is pink and may intensify to a deep rose. The heart chakra has twelve petals.
We remember the prayer of Solomon: “Give me, O Lord, an understanding heart.” Right understanding, or right views, is described as knowledge of the Four Noble Truths; having views free from superstition or delusion; having penetrating insight into reality, or emptiness. Gautama Buddha said to his disciples: “What, now, Brothers, is Right Understanding?
“When … the disciple understands Evil and understands the Root of Evil; when he understands Good and understands the Root of Good; this is Right Understanding.
“What now … is Evil? Killing … is evil. Stealing is evil. Unlawful sexual intercourse is evil. Lying is evil. Slandering is evil. Using harsh language is evil. Vain talk is evil. Covetousness is evil. Cruelty is evil. Wrong views are evil.
“And what, Brothers, is the root of Evil? Greed is the root of Evil; Anger is the root of Evil; Delusion is the root of Evil.
“And what, Brothers, is the root of Good? Freedom from Greed … freedom from Anger … freedom from Delusion is the root of Good.”
When we think about the conditions of consciousness of greed and anger, we can objectively see them and determine whether they are in us or not.
But when it comes to delusion, we are self-deluded by our own desires, by our own pride and ego.
We are so much a part of the ego and its pride and its desires that we do not know we are in a state of delusion until increment by increment we catch a higher insight and we observe ourselves mounting an inner spiral staircase, if you will, to a point of enlightenment that, if we are observant, we recognize we did not have yesterday. And if we are wise, we will write down the experience and the insight and anchor into it and take another step.
Freedom from self-delusion is a great necessity on the Path. We need to pursue it with all intensity in our prayer and our thought and our daily consideration of the steps we take and what we do.
2 – Right Aspiration
The second step of the Eightfold Path is right aspiration, right thought, or right resolve. This point corresponds to the six-petaled seat-of-the-soul chakra, which is the abiding place of the soul. This is the chakra of the seventh ray, the violet ray, which has many shades, from violet-pink to purple.
This is a right attitude that must be had by the soul if the soul is to return to the Christ Self and to the I AM Presence.
The soul’s aspiration must be centered in God—in having right thought, right contemplation upon the law of God and the right resolve to accomplish her mission in life.
This resolution is the use of desire constructively—setting one’s desire, setting one’s sail and moving in that direction consistently, day after day after day.
3 – Right Speech
The third step of the Eightfold Path is right speech, which relates to the throat chakra. The action of right speech is therefore the right qualification of this ray of power, which is the first ray, the ray of the will of God. The throat chakra has sixteen petals; its color is blue.
With right speech we therefore affirm right desire.
Right speech includes abstaining from lying, slandering, harsh or abusive language, vain talk or idle chatter. Right speech is speech that is kindly, open and truthful.
Gautama said to his disciples,
“What, Brothers, is Right Speech? A man, Brothers, has overcome lying and he abstains from telling falsehood. He speaks the truth, he is devoted to the truth, he adheres to the truth, he is worthy of confidence, is not a deceiver of men…. Thus he brings together those that are at variance; establishes those that are united;… he delights in concord; it is concord that he spreads by his words.
“He has given up harsh language…. He speaks words that are free from rudeness, soothing to the ear, loving, going to the heart, courteous, rejoicing many, elevating many.
“He has overcome vain talk…. He speaks at the right time, speaks in accordance with facts, speaks to the point. He speaks about the Dharma [the law and the teaching] and the Discipline of the Order; his speech is of real value and agrees with its object.
“He bears in mind the injunction which says: ‘In meeting one another, Brothers, there are two things that ought to be adhered to: either conversation about the Truth or holy silence.’
“This, Brothers, is Right Speech.”
4 – Right Action
The fourth step is right action, or right conduct. This is the base-of-the-spine chakra. It is the white ray; the chakra has four petals. The base-of-the-spine chakra is a physical chakra.
Action and right conduct are the physical outpicturing of all that we contain in our heart, in our mind, in our soul, in our desires, in our being.
It is the energy by which life is sustained and life is continued.
5 – Right Livelihood
The fifth step is right livelihood, and it pertains to the solar-plexus chakra, which has ten petals. It is the sixth ray of purple and gold, the ray of service and ministration.
Right livelihood is living honorably by a profession that does not harm any living thing and not choosing an occupation that is not conducive to spiritual progress. It is what we do in life, how we give of ourselves to one another, to society, to our nations.
Right livelihood must be based on right desire, and the solar plexus is the chakra of desire. Wrong desire breeds wrong livelihood.
6 – Right Effort
Right effort, the sixth step, is established as right focus through the third-eye chakra, which has ninety-six petals. It is the fifth ray, the emerald ray.
By the All-Seeing Eye of God we focus. And as we focus on what our effort will be each day, the direction of our serving and our striving, we must have purity of desire in the inner eye. We must not lust after another, be jealous of another, want what someone else has.
Right effort is based upon a direct relationship with God. Right effort entails right exertion in self-training and self-control. Right effort is following what are called the “four right efforts.”
We must make an effort to “end existing evil.” We must make an effort to “prevent new evil.”
We must make an effort to “cause new virtue.” We must make an effort to “increase existing virtue.”
7 – Right Mindfulness
The seventh step is right mindfulness. It is the attribute of the thousand-petaled lotus of the crown chakra. This is the second-ray chakra, and its color is yellow.
Right mindfulness is always moving to establish oneself in the Mind of God that was in Christ Jesus that was in Gautama Buddha and all those who have attained that oneness.
It is having an active, watchful mind, an alert mind that tends to details and masters them. Right mindfulness is the captain of one’s ship. The crown must be opened, because when one has illumination and then full enlightenment, one can direct the courses of all of the seven rays.
8 – Right Concentration
The eighth step is right concentration, or right absorption. This relates to the secret chamber of the heart, an antechamber of the heart chakra. This eight-petaled chakra is the place of the threefold flame.
The secret chamber of the heart is the place where you meet the Master, the Guru, the Lord Gautama Buddha.
Right concentration is upon God and upon the Highest Self and upon the point of Light. It is earnest contemplation on the deep mysteries of Life.
It is mental tranquility and the absence of distraction. Right absorption is the absorption of the mind and of the soul in God and in the Teacher. Without right concentration and absorption, we do not attain the full bonding of our souls to the Christ.
In Buddhist teachings, this eighth step involves meditation and proper breathing, as well as the techniques of Hinduism’s raja yoga (known as “the royal road to reintegration”).
It is a means of finding integration in all of the chakras and in the I AM Presence through direct personal experience of God within by the science of the spoken Word.
Paths of East and West
The teaching on the Eightfold Path is commonly ascribed to Gautama Buddha. In truth, it is the teaching of all of the Gurus who preceded him in the lineage of Sanat Kumara and all who followed him.
It is also the teaching of Jesus Christ. Each one of these steps we can also find in Christian teaching.
The paths that have been evolved in East and West are for the selfsame purpose of placing the hand of the soul in the hand of the Christ Self.
For only thus can the Way be illumined by right knowledge, right aspiration, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right absorption.