The noble eightfold path is a summary of the components to proper Buddhist practice. They comprise:
- view: The view that actions have karmic consequences, and these consequenes outlive us reflecting into eternity. Also that all things are impermanent, void, and hold the potential for suffering. The teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha illustrate the path to self-liberation by realizing these truths.
- intention: The resolution to be harmless, positive, selfless, undistracted by sensual pleasures, and free of ill will.
- speech: Avoiding lies, hateful, rude, or violent speech, etc; and cultivating truthfulness and positive speech.
- action: Taking only what is willfully given; not killing or physically harming other sentient beings; avoiding sexual misconduct; avoiding sensual pleasure and material greed for their own sake.
- livelihood: Making a living according to right action — not making a living by swindling, killing, trafficking in meat, drugs, poison, weapons, etc; not hoarding one's gains from their living.
- effort: Cultivating wholesome states of body-and-mind and breaking down unwholesome states; having faith in the Path; dispelling and transforming states of anger, hatred, resentment, etc. into states of compassion, selflessness, and inspiration.
- mindfulness: Maintaining a clear perspective of the present moment and our relationship to reality; pay attention, get out of your head.
- absorption: Focusing the awareness to extinguish dualistic and discursive thought. This is the essence of Zen.
When the profound questioning penetrates to the very bottom, and that bottom is broken open, not the slightest doubt will remain that your own mind is itself Buddha, the Void-universe ... Upon such realization question yourself even more intensely in this wise: "My body is like a phantom, like bubbles on a stream. My mind, looking into itself, is as formless as empty-space, yet somewhere within sounds are perceived. Who is hearing?" Should you question yourself in this wise with profound absorption, never slackening the intensity of your effort, your rational mind eventually will exhaust itself and only questioning at the deepest level will reamin. Finally [...] your long held conceptions and notions will perish, after absolute questioning, in the way that every drop of water vanishes from a tub broken open at the bottom [...] but even now repeatedly cast off what has been realized, turning back to the subject that realizes [...] and resolutely go on.
I have always been; time cannot leave me. When time is not regarded as a phenomenon which ebbs and flows, the time I climbed the mountain is the present moment of being-time. When time is not thought of as coming and going, this moment is absolute time for me. At the time I climbed the mountain and crossed the river, did I not experience the time I am in this building? Three heads and eight elbows is yesterday's time, a height of sixteen or eighteen feet is today's; but "yesterday" and "today" means the time when one goes straight into the mountains and sees ten thousand peaks. It has never passed. Three heads and eight elbows is my being-time. It seems to be passing, but it is now. Thus the pine is time, as is the bamboo.
Do not regard time as merely flying away; do not think of flying away as its sole function. For time to fly away there would have to be separation. Because you imagine that time only passes, you do not learn the truth of being-time. In a word, every being in the entire world is its own time in one continuum. And since being is time, I am my being-time. Time has the quality of passing, so-to-speak, from today to tomorrow, from today to yesterday, from yesterday to today, from today to today, and from tomorrow to tomorrow. Because this passing is characteristic of time, present time and past time do not overlap or impinge on one another. But the master Seigen is time, Obasu is time, Sobei is time, Sekito is time. And since you and I are time, practice-enlightenment is time.
Still, when dragons and fish see water as a palace, they are probably like people looking at a palace, utterly unable to recognize that it is flowing away. If an onlooker were to explain to them 'Your palace is flowing water,' the dragons and fish would likely be as startled as we were now to hear the assertion that mountains are flowing. Further, it may also be possible to maintain and to rely upon the assertion that there is such preaching in every railing, stair, and outdoor pillar of a palace or mansion. Quietly, we should have been considering this reasoning and we should go on considering it.