The Eightfold Path has eight practices. These are Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.
And the last two practices are more for meditation.
Right Mindfulness is well-known. So-called mindfulness meditation has become part of the mainstream practice for stress management and quality of life. In Pali, it is from the term, Sati. Its literal meaning is “remember” or “notice.” It is the way of being aware of the things as they are without any interpretations and judgments.
After all, our stress is from the way we interpret what happened to us and put the meaning to it. When we feel so hot or cold weather, for example, the problem could be our interpretation of such hotness or coldness, not these temperatures.
During mindful meditation, what we are supposed to do is such Sati. We see what happened to us as if it is what happened to someone else or what happened alone. We’re one of the observers who see it from the meta-perspective; moreover, God’s perspective.
The benefit of journaling is also from this Sati. By writing what we see, feel, think, even believe, we can put it down to a piece of paper (nowadays to devices). In doing so, we can objectify our experience and interpretation. We can be the author of what we wrote. It’s no longer what happened to us, but what happened alone; as its writer, we are outside of it. We’re on Sati. We’re mindful.
In this way, journaling, moreover, an act of writing in general, is one of the best therapeutic activities. Indeed, writing is Sati as one of the best tools to see things as they are, if we use it correctly.
The eighth practice is Right Concentration, which is also known as Samadhi. It means a sense of absorption. If we focus on one single object or act, in its culmination, we can forget ourselves. It’s the unison of both seer and seen. In Sati, we still maintain ourselves as a seer who sees things as they are. In Samadhi, on the other hand, we’re no longer a seer. Or, even if we’re still a seer, at the same time, we are already part of seen. And the seer/seen distinction becomes meaningless.
It is also God’s view, or more appropriately, the view of Emptiness. In Samadhi, we even don’t notice what happened. What happened is what happened as if the universe existed before our birth and will exist after our death. Nevertheless, or because of that, we are the universe, which is to say, nobody (anybody) in Emptiness.
We can experience a glimpse of this Samadhi in our physical, artistic activities, even during our everyday chores, if we do it properly. If we do whatever we do mindfully with Sati, then we can stop our interpretation and enter into the state of flow with right concentration. At this very moment, the state of Samadhi could emerge. We are no longer a doer of our activities, but we’re those activities themselves as they are in His view and Emptiness.
When we run, we’re no longer a runner but an act of running. We are nobody. The wind is blowing. When we swim, we’re no longer a swimmer but an act of swimming. We’re nobody. The water is flowing.
Image by Michael Schwarzenberger