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I take the name from Buddha's Eightfold Way which I learned of in college: "This is the noble eightfold way, namely, correct understanding, correct intention, correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood, correct attention, correct concentration, and correct meditation." http://www.san.beck.org/Buddha.html No explanation was given - and certainly, please point me to any that you find thoughtful! Also, there is the trouble of translation, and of understanding the original meaning. However, I played around with the structure and thought I saw the four levels: whether, what, how, why. Occuring twice.

I decided, if the foursome (the division of everything into four perspectives) was occuring twice, there must be something deep and advanced here that I was not yet aware of.

Later, I noticed a very similar structure in St.Peter's Second Letter: "...you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 1:5 Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; 1:6 and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; 1:7 and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love."

They seemed to match up:

Where I've added variant translations.

At that point, my first years in graduate school, I was thinking a lot about two other eight-lined structures, Jesus' prayer "Our Father" and his Beatitudes ("Blessed are the poor..."). St.Peter's structure was interesting because he starts with faith and ends with love, which should be the goal of faith, so that seems quite profound. I had noticed similarities between his and "Our Father" and the Beatitudes, and the three seemed like structural permutations (with respect to the threesome, especially being - doing - thinking).

So I decided that Buddha's eightfold way was essentially the same as Peter's structure, which I called "St.Peter's Keys to Heaven" as that seemed appropriate for something that profound. I'm not sure anybody quite understands any of these structures, and I was going to explore them structurally, so I thought I should focus on the Christian versions, as I could make most direct use of my intuition. So I looked for the underlying structure behind the three variants, and that underlying structure I call "The Eightfold Way".

At that time I was interested in these structures because they seemed to be frameworks enabling three different kinds of language: argumentation, verbalization and narration. They were structures that evoked dynamics out of statics! Much later, I did find a nice and intense structural expression for the three variants, which I'll write about. Now I'm interested in having a clear understanding of The Eightfold Way with regard to the key concepts that emmanate from the concept of Life. If I have clear understandings of The Eightfold Way, and the other three primary structures, then I think I can have a lot of insight for generating the secondary structures, which include the three languages.

I will write separately about the structure of The Eightfold Way, and also notes on Bhikkhu Ńanamoli selections "The Buddha's Teachings In His Own Words".

{{Andrius}} [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/354 August 4, 2003]

I'm appealing to fair use, for the purpose of study, to make use of the following quotes expanding on the Eightfold Way. Andrius, http://www.ms.lt

The Buddha's Teaching In His Own Words. Texts selected, arranged, and translated by Bhikkhu Ńanamoli Copyright © 1999 Buddhist Publication Society. Reproduction without consent of the BPS is prohibited, except for copies made for personal use or to be given to friends.

"And what is the noble ones' right view? Any understanding, understanding faculty, understanding power, investigation-of-states enlightenment factor, right view as path factor, in one whose mind is ennobled and taintless, who possesses the path, and who maintains it in being: this is the noble ones' right view without taints, which is supramundane and a factor of the path." MN 117 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/9280/bt-7.htm#View

"What is right intention? It is the intention of renunciation, the intention of non-ill will, the intention of non-cruelty: this is called right intention." SN 45:8; DN 22 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/9280/bt-8.htm

"What is right speech? Abstention from lying, slander, abuse, and gossip; this is called right speech." SN 45:8; DN 22

"What is right action? Abstention from killing living beings, stealing, misconduct in sensual desires: this is called right action." SN 45:8; DN 22

"What is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple abandons wrong livelihood and gets his living by right livelihood." SN 45:8; DN 22 "Scheming (to deceive), persuading, hinting, belittling, and pursuing gain with gain; this is called wrong livelihood (for bhikkhus)." MN 117 "There are five trades that a lay follower should not ply. What five? They are: trading in weapons, living beings, meat, liquor, and poisons." AN 5:177

What is right effort? Here a bhikkhu awakens desire for the non-arising of unarisen evil unwholesome states, for which he makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind, and endeavours. He awakens desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states, for which he makes efforts ... He awakens desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states, for which he makes efforts ... He awakens desire for the continuance, non-corruption, strengthening, maintenance in being, and perfecting, of arisen wholesome states, for which he makes efforts, arouses energy, exerts his mind, and endeavours: this is called right effort." SN 45:8; DN 22

"What is right mindfulness? Here a bhikkhu abides contemplating the body as a body, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. He abides contemplating feelings as feelings, ardent ... He abides contemplating consciousness as consciousness, ardent ... He abides contemplating mental objects as mental objects, ardent, fully aware and mindful, having put away covetousness and grief for the world. This is called right mindfulness." SN 45:8; DN:22

"What is the noble ones' right concentration with its causes and its equipment? It is any unifiedness of mind that is equipped with the other seven factors of the path. Right view comes first: one understands wrong view, intention, speech, action, and livelihood, as wrong; one understands right view, intention, speech, action, and livelihood, as right, each of two kinds, that is, either associated with taints and ripening in the essentials of existence, or supramundane and a factor of the path. One makes efforts to abandon wrong view and the other four, and to acquire right view and the other four: this is one's right effort. Mindfully one abandons the wrong and enters upon the way of the right: this is one's right mindfulness." MN 117 (condensed) http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/9280/bt-10.htm

JosephGoguen: [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/355 August 7, 2003]

Dear Andrius,

What you quote is highly condensed and probably does not make a lot of sense to people who dont know the larger context. I doubt that any Buddhist would reject the 8 fold path, but it does get interpreted in different ways by different traditions, and is more important in the theravadan tradition than in the more recently developed mahayana and vajrayana traditions. I was not able to find anything online that looked very good to me, but there is a very nice discussion by S.N. Goenka, "Moral Conduct, Concentration and Wisdom," which appears in *Entering the Stream,* ed. Sam Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn (Shambhala 1993). The book is a very good overview of Buddhism, consisting of articles from all the major traditions. The Goenka article is composed and condensed from three longer pieces by Goenka, and is quite well done. There are also several other pieces in the same section of "Basic Teaching" from the Theravada school. A short one by Bhikku Bodhi also gives a short summary of the 8fold path, from which one sees that the first two factors (understanding and thought) fall under Wisdom (sk. prajna), the next three (speech, action, and livelihood) fall under Morality (sk. shila), and the final three (effort, mindfulness and concentration) fall under concentration (Sk. samadhi).

If you cannot get any of this material and are really interested, i can copy it and mail it to you. But i would repeat that the import of all this is practical: you have to try to do these things; and you need to have a living teacher to be sure you are doing it properly. It is generally thought today that meditation is the key, since it sharpens and unconfuses the mind; probably it was the same in the Buddha's time.

More when i get time .....

== joseph

{{Andrius}} [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/356 August 12, 2003]


Thank you for your letters. And thank you for recommendation, I purchased a updated edition of the book you suggested, I'm looking forward to it. I also purchased the first volume of "The Nature of Order" by Christopher Alexander, which just recently was printed, after many years of waiting. He's the author of "The Timeless Way of Building" and "A Pattern Language". I also bought an anthology of religious history, in Lithuanian, which includes a couple hundred pages of Buddhist texts.

I think of our space here as a "working group", by which I mean, first of all, a workspace where people can work alongside each other, not feel completely alone. Not requiring attention of each other, but making it easy for us to give such attention, and be stimulated in unexpected ways. So if I work on something incomprehensible, it doesn't need to be read or understood, but perhaps a few chance words may spark your own thoughts, and that is a lot. And any question that we raise here can evolve. We gradually find a language, create a social fabric, and sooner than later can actually apply our thoughts practically.

I value structure, and look for it, because I think it can go beyond words, and present human meaning that transcends cultures. I look at Buddha's eightfold way as having some kind of deep meaning, something that he understood and expressed, but perhaps we're not clear about. Bikkhu Bodhi's organization of the eightfold way is a bit helpful, but I'm skeptical that this is what Buddha had in mind, it feels contrived when compared with the structures that I am aware of that are practical and solid.

I reflected just a bit on some explications that I found about Buddha's eightfold way. I can't find it now, but somewhere there was a discussion of "right concentration" as a giving oneself up. And I thought that was very much in the spirit of love. So I would be interested to find connection there. That they are, in fact, the same - at least, if we consider how Buddha understood "right concentration", and how Christ understood "love". Or, if not the same, then what is the difference? But first to understand what they mean.

JosephGoguen [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/357 August 12, 2003]

Dear Andrius,

Wow, that sounds serious! Let me know what you make of it.... Im definitely curious about the new Alexander book, ive skimmed his earlier stuff, and it has had some influence in computer science, especially the software pattern crowd.

I think the classification that Bikkhu Bodhi uses is very traditional, and if i recall rightly, Goenka also uses it; maybe it is in the Buddha's original writings somewhere. It's worth pointing out that in Buddhism, the original words of the Buddha dont have the sort of weight that the bible does in Christianity. Buddhism is considered a sort of experimental science, in which you are supposed to discover for yourself what is true through practice; faith has nothing to do with it except possibly providing some additional motivation when things get rough. The modifier "right" is rarely used outside the 8 fold way, so i will drop it, and concentration is considered a misleading term at least in English, so i will speak of meditation, which indeed is a kind of letting go of the self, and which has some similarities with love, except that there is no particular "other" that is the object of love, and indeed, no self to let go of either. Of course, this is all experiental, and it is difficult to describe except to others who have had the same experiences, as a result of similar intensive meditation practices, though indeed, there are people who have had comparable experiences "from nowhere" or from very different traditions, but can still somehow do the translation. I think of Rumi.

One more comment: i find it hard to take these numbers of categories very seriously. Human experience can be divided up so many different ways, and a continuum with 7 elements could just as well have 6 or 8, though the 8 fold way is not a continuum.



{{Andrius}} [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/358 August 13, 2003]

It's great to evoke a Wow! and to get to think of love.

I'm looking forward to thinking through Christopher Alexander's book "The Nature of Order". I hope we might do that here, whoever is interested, especially with regard to values and pattern languages and the nature of life. The first volume is out, there will be four volumes: I) The Phenomenon of Life II) The Process of Creating Life III) A Vision of a Living World IV) The Luminous Ground. They are not cheap, $64 each at Amazon.

With regard to love and meditation, I'll be thinking about that when I read Buddhist texts, including the book you mentioned. I believe there is one truth, and I think both Buddha and Jesus are sincere, so I think there is a connection to be found.

I suppose the end result of meditation and love is quite similar, that we lose ourselves, let go of ourselves. I think the key truth for Jesus is that one can give oneself up for others. I think this is the very literal sense in which he tells his disciples that the bread is his flesh, and the wine is his blood. For it was his bread to eat, and so had he eaten it, would be his flesh, and the wine his blood. In that sense, it truly ever is. And by giving himself up, he is able to send things on a different path. So that, literally, we eat his flesh and drink his blood.

My own experimental understanding is that, as humans, we're not able to let go of ourselves except by way of others, by taking up their concerns. So this is a point on which I'm curious what Buddhists say. I will spell out more what I mean, it is the point of the structures that I am working on.

I'm also skeptical of categorizations in that they can easily be arbitrary. However, I find there are some basic structuralizations that recur which seem to be given by the limits of our mind. I think of them as divisions of everything, of which the most fundamental are:

everything as two perspectives: opposites coexist, all things are the same. (I know of four representations: free will / fate, outside /inside, theory / practice, same / different.)

everything as three perspectives: taking a stand, following through, reflecting. (I know of four representations, although I'm not sure how they match up, I'm working on that: be / do / think; one / all / many; object / process / subject; necessary / actual / possible.)

everything as four perspectives: whether, what, how, why. (I know of two representations, from the point of view of the thinker: whether? what? how? why? and the thought: whether! what! how! why!)

I think there are such elementary structures. I also find that there are more complicated structures that seem to be structured and organized by these elementary ones. These more complicated structures serve very practical purposes, and describe our intuition. They are just larger than the size of our working memory, so that we feel that we are inside of them. I am working to unify what I know about them, so I will be writing.

I think that Buddha's eightfold way, to the extent that it is practical, is related to one such structure. (Which I call the "eightfold way" and which I think is also related to the axioms of Zermelo-Frankel set theory, or the octave of musical chords.) As I learn more about Buddhism, I will see if I'm on track or not, if I'm dealing with something real.

JosephGoguen [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/359 August 13, 2003]


i want first to respond to something you wrote in an email that i seem to have since lost, about toolkits for open society activists, in regard to someone named "tom" and alexander's notion of pattern: i was glad to see your negative reaction to an excissive emphasis on the positive; it is only worth working in situations where there is some negative energy to work with. (this is also a very tantric buddhist point of view.)

each such situation is its own little (or big) world, with its own truths; i dont believe in "one truth" as you seem to, except perhaps at a very deep level of the emptiness of all things. this seems to be "one truth" in the sense that it has a basis in the way the human mind/body is wired, so that all humans can experience it, though i dont think it is inherent in "the way the universe" is wired (if there even is such a notion).

there have been numerous explorations of convergence between buddhist and christian meditation and notions like love; thomas merton was one of the great early explorers of this region. christian monastic traditions definitely have some practices that are similar to some buddhist practices but in general, christian monks involved in these exchanges have wanted to learn more about buddhist practices so they can apply them in their own spiritual growth. for just one example, naropa university has hosted a number of these inter-faith dialogues, and there is something called the Lilly Buddhist-Christian Theological encounter that is ongoing. one theme has certainly been the similarity of jesus teaching with mahayana notions of the bodhisattva, and in particular, similarities and differences among notions of love (X) and compassion (B) [karuna in Skt].

the three major branches of buddhist take somewhat different views of your question

My own experimental understanding is that, as humans, we're not able to let go of ourselves except by way of others, by taking up their concerns. So this is a point on which I'm curious what Buddhists say.

the theravadin branch is more concerned with individual salvation and the eight fold path is part of that worldview (but the great teachers in this tradition tend to go beyond that viewpoint). the mahayana branch is more concerned with others, and indeed views this as a way to go beyond self. you will see this clearly when you read the shambhala survey book. the vajayana branch basically accepts the mahayana view but adds some more advanced techniques for achieving its goals. (zen falls within the mahayana branch)

the kind of non-dualities that you talk about (quoted below) are a kind of foundation for vajrayana thinking.

everything as two perspectives: opposites coexist, all things are the same.

and of course this also relates to the wisdom of alexander's patterns.

im much less convinced about your 4 member categories having some kind of meaning that could not also be captured with a different structure, though there is a classic tantric pattern that resembles your 3 perspectives, often translated as: ground, path, fruition, and given a lot of deep meanings.

but i agree strongly that larger structures can be constructed to reflect and support our intuitions, buddhism has hundreds of them, but it also cautions about taking them too seriously and trying to find deep meanings in the way things might seem to line up rather than in the underlying experiences. for example, your analogy between octaves and the 8 fold path sounds completely bogus to me. where are the steps and half steps in the 8fp? or specific whole number ratios? (esp. the factor of 2) or the chance to go up and down several octaves? or the twelfth root of 2? etc. i cannot believe theres anything real there. ZF set theory sounds even more outrageous, but since i dont know the details i wont complain too loudly.

the main point here would be the danger of getting lost in conceptual thought at the expense of genuine insight and spiritual progress.

== joseph

[http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/360 August 20, 2003]

Joseph, Thank you for your letters!

My books arrived, so I'll get to take one or two with me on my trip to Croatia.

Joseph, I'm glad to find some common ground, and as a believer in "one truth", always hopeful to find more. I'm curious what constructive alternatives do we have to the idea that there is one truth. You write:

"each such situation is its own little (or big) world, with its own truths; i dont believe in "one truth" as you seem to, except perhaps at a very deep level of the emptiness of all things. this seems to be "one truth" in the sense that it has a basis in the way the human mind/body is wired, so that all humans can experience it, though i dont think it is inherent in "the way the universe" is wired (if there even is such a notion)."

but this in regard to:

"i was glad to see your negative reaction to an excissive emphasis on the positive; it is only worth working in situations where there is some negative energy to work with. (this is also a very tantric buddhist point of view.)"

I think, as we are here, that we are able to intentionally work with each other only by reference to a common ground, real or otherwise. Some kind of hope that we can be understood, that the essence of our outlook, experience, worldview can carry over. If we are able to intentionally share any sort of truth, then I think in our intention we make use of a presumption that our truth can perhaps be conveyed, and therefore allow for some absolute ground by which it might be conveyed. Which may perhaps be no more than the emptiness of all things, in the sense that, in balance, there is no will that rules out that hope.

In that all things are empty, there is nothing to keep me from my purposes.

This is to say, I think consciousness takes me from the state "all things are empty" (which I relate to a division of everything into no perspectives) to a state where there are three perspectives that I need to engage life: taking a stand, following through, reflecting. As you write: "ground, path, fruition".

These last several weeks I've been working to unify four different families of structures. I see that at the heart of each of these families is this "taking a stand, following through, reflecting", and I think each one of the families relates that to a different representation of it. So I will be fleshing that out, describing the significance of the more sophisticated structures, and trying to understand them in terms of clear fundamentals.

Also, in traveling through the Balkans, I hope to find more Islamic independent thinkers. I would like to make more explicit what they find significant in life. In doing so, I look for structures that we may have in common. In particular, I am curious to find where, if at all, the idea of "taking a stand, following through, reflecting" may be found.

JosephGoguen [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livingbytruth/message/361 August 20, 2003]


Emptiness is a central concept of mahayana buddhism, but it has nothing to do with the notions that bear that name in western thought, which are mostly forms of nihilism. The buddhist idea is more that there are no Platonic ideal forms of things, no "essence" of them, no eternal enduring truth about them.

Your search for Islamic independent thinkers intrigues me; I would imagine that Sufis would have something similar to ground, path, fruition, since their whole tradition is so close to tantrism, but i have no idea at all about more orthodox sects.

Have a nice trip. We will be in Italy the next three weeks.



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