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How to keep yourself from falling from grace, eightfold path?

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  • How to keep yourself from falling from grace, eightfold path?

    Hi Venerable,
    Thank you for your deeply insightful replies thus far, I have another question about following the eightfold path. I keep making a resolution to follow the eightfold path to the best of my ability almost everyday! , I read about it on accesstoinsight or other websites everyday and try to follow it to the best of my ability but my efforts go in vain after I find myself getting angry or later frustrated about something during the day (especially after I get busy with work etc) , or if I find myself criticizing other people , maybe not in front of them but behind their backs, I do keep my precepts but I tend to break the verbal precept all the time, and I catch myself telling white lies too. what are your recommendations in getting rid of bad habits which are so strong and so hard to change, I feel like it is a losing battle almost everyday. Please tell me if you have any strategies to prevent myself from breaking my precepts and not following the eightfold path. Thank you for your time.

  • #2
    Hi dear Sudhamash,

    The first thing I would suggest is to not see it as a battle or a duty. I can tell you it is much more fun if you see it as a hobby! And people tend to be better at their hobbies than at their work as well. When I was a lay person, and even now as a monk still, I do not set any goals on what to achieve or that I should do. Of course it is nice to have good intentions, but let them be just that. Don't turn intentions into expectations. It's much more fun that way.

    Because, as you've said correctly, habits can be so strong and hard to change. We have to take it step by step, and can't expect to be perfect, in fact we can never be. Sometimes it is a bit like cleaning a kitchen: you clean it one day, and the next day it's dirty again! Or perhaps it's more like Bodhinyana's workshop, haha.

    What can help, is to do some meditation in the morning and then at the end of the meditation to remind yourself of your intentions. Because, if once you have meditated a bit, the mind is sharper and it is more likely to remember your intentions. So when you actually need them (at a moment somebody challenges you, for example) they are more likely to come up.

    Also, instead of looking at when you (so-called) "failed", it is more fun and more helpful to reflect on the times you have actually succeeded in not reacting to your anger and tendencies to lie, but went the other way instead. By doing that, you enforce those tendencies. Those times may be rare at first, but gradually and over time it will become second nature, because the mind finds some joy and fun in reflecting on those good things.

    I hope this can help you a bit.

    Take it easy!



    • #3
      Wow...this was / is quite interesting!
      Welcome back bhante, and, welcome back to those that ask very tasty questions I sit back, and, make use of these Q&A

      With happiness re these forums!


      • #4
        Dear Bhante Sunyo,

        Thank you very much for that reply. I completely agree with you that let the good intentions be just as they are and never turn them to be expectations. This vassa I was having problems with runaway thoughts then I got suckered by fault finding this and that (this fault finding mind is very subtle, very hard to catch). I was having such a hard time and was fustrated. The way I got out of the slump is just as you said to reflect on times of success. I really just directed my mind on the wholesome actions that I've done and to just be utterly content and thankful with myself no matter what. I also kept repeating to myself that I didn't want to back slide from the 8 precepts. Then I remembered Ajahn Brahm saying that let the defilements as they are and one day, the Dhamma will take care of them. So I just kept at it. It took me the whole three months to do it but I'm glad I really did because it invigorated my mind! Now my mindfulness is stronger than before and I have the energy to counter unskillful thoughts and habits. Even though they may arise, I can catch them at their tracks and steer myself in a new path. The pleasant side effect of that is that I am bit more happier compared to before

        But I would have never done it without the help without the guidance and encouragement from the sangha! Please accept my sincere kataññu

        with respect, reverence and gratitude,


        • #5
          Originally posted by James Taeza View Post
          This vassa I was having problems with runaway thoughts then I got suckered by fault finding this and that (this fault finding mind is very subtle, very hard to catch).
          I think the Fire Sermon can be very useful when thoughts pervade the mind. When we consider all of the sense doors to be "aflame", even the mind to be aflame, it is easier to let it go because you realize that clinging onto something that is burning will burn you. It is when we believe our thoughts have something of value to offer us that we take deeper interest in them. I'm not saying this makes it easy as pie, but it helps me to look at the senses in this way. Consider the 5 aggregates and see them as fire. Anything on fire would dropped instantly and it is this dropping that cools us. I also consider the breath to be cooling to the body/mind. It is, in fact, cooler coming in than going out. So being with the breath and being interested in this subject moreso than the aggregates leads us to be cooled which is the definition of Nibbana.

          May we all develop strong mindfulness so that we may let everything go that is a hindrance to Nibbana.

          Be well



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