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Spending time with the Buddhists

I took an accidental deep dive with the Buddhists this past month. I say accidental because I have no memory of signing up for the emails announcing the conference. I opened one of the said emails after the conference concluded, and there were only 48 hours to watch the sessions. Maybe they would say it was no accident. 🙂

I listened to online talks by Sharon Salzberg, John Kabot-Zinn and Dan Harris. These led me to read two books, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself by Mark Epstein and Real Change by Sharon Salzberg. (Sharon Salzberg’s latest book, Real Life, just came out in April 2023. You can listen to her read an excerpt on her podcast.

I admit to knowing very little about Buddhism. I was gifted a book by a colleague more than 20 years ago called A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield. My colleague went on yearly silent retreats, and I realize now that he must have been a practicing Buddhist. It’s not the only Buddhism book that I own and haven’t read. Sometimes I think we accumulate books that align with some unrealized identity or need. And one day, the stars align, and the books fall off the shelf at you.

I was especially captivated by the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is a central teaching in Buddhism and provides a framework for leading a wholesome and meaningful life, including:

  1. Right understanding: Understanding the Four Noble Truths (the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering), the nature of suffering, impermanence, and non-self.

  2. Right intention: Developing wholesome and ethical intentions such as kindness, compassion, and non-harming.

  3. Right speech: Speaking truthfully, kindly, and helpfully, and avoiding divisive or harmful speech.

  4. Right action: Acting ethically and skillfully, avoiding actions that cause harm to oneself or others.

  5. Right livelihood: Earning a living in an ethical and non-harmful way.

  6. Right effort: Cultivating wholesome states of mind and letting go of unwholesome ones.

  7. Right mindfulness: Being aware of one’s body, feelings, thoughts, and the surrounding environment in a non-judgmental way.

  8. Right concentration: Developing the ability to focus the mind on a single object or task, leading to greater clarity and insight.

If you are interested in using mindfulness in the context of your work, check out the free 40-day Mindfulness Daily course from Tara Brach with Jack Kornfield.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash