Right View, Right Intention, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, these are all part of the Noble Eightfold Path. But what does one do when we are not able to discern what is “right” in any given situation?
Normally, I find that Bhante Sujatha‘s suggestion of “accept, be mindful and cultivate” to be enough to keep me on my path. But certain situations just don’t seem to immediately be resolved by this teaching.
In those cases, I try to apply patience and virtue (khanti and sila).
But most recently, I have come upon a situation which does not seem to be resolving itself with any of these practices. And while still having patience for this, I see there is a genuine need for action and not just passivity.
So what does one do, what do I do, in a situation like this? Is it Right Action to remove myself?
I’m honestly not sure right now. And another of Bhante’s teachings comes to mind on this, and that is to be the silent observer. Perhaps the right thing to do, think or say, may be in pure observation without judgement or expectation. And just as one may see a river in their path, no decision or action has to be taken. We don’t need to decide how to cross it, figure out how deep it is, or calculate the speed of the current. We have the option to sit quietly and just observe the river as the river.
And while I am aware that this may sound very “Zen” to some of you, I see it as very practical and grounded in reality. And it is also fundamentally the same as the Serenity Prayer which one finds in Christianity. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”
And perhaps this is where wisdom (panna) allows each of us the opportunity for nothingness. We do not need to feel compelled or obligated to contribute, resolve, negotiate or eliminate anything.
Or, as the Buddha taught, “Establish your mind in noble silence. Make your mind unified in noble silence. Concentrate your mind in noble silence“.
I thank you for listening to me as I worked my way through this difficulty. But I think we can both see that it is my mind, the ego, which created this difficulty to begin with. And isn’t that true of all difficulties that we face as human beings?
May peace be with you.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.