Buddha Would Have Had More Success With A Noble 5-Fold Path

Buddha in Kamakura

With all due respect to Buddha and his 8-fold noble path to enlightenment, wouldn’t it have been better as a 5-fold noble path?

For that matter, even a 6 or 7-fold path would have made more sense. But a 5-fold path would have been perfect. It would trim the fat off the less practical steps while still leaving the substance.  And it also has a nice ring to it.

I want a path to enlightenment that seems meaningful and old-timey, but isn’t going to meander through the daisies. And besides, some of those steps are hard! Let’s not waste time and effort on perfecting the painful parts of the path. Instead let’s focus on succeeding in areas where we are more likely to reap the rewards.

Keep it simple

I can’t help but thinking there would be higher numbers of converts to Buddhism if he had started with a more concise, practical outline. Instead he confused us with a bit too much strenuous fluff.

Let’s study Buddha’s outdated path versus my updated, improved version:

The Noble Eightfold Path The Noble Fivefold Path
1. Right View: Believing the Four Noble Truths 1. Adapted Right View: Believing 3 Noble Truths, 2 Noble Half Truths; or 1 Noble Truth and 6 Noble Half Truths.
2. Right Intention: The intention for ethical improvement, harmlessness and goodwill. 2. Adapted Right Intention: I keep this one around, as it is an easy one the check off the to-do list without really doing anything. We need as many boosts as we can get.
3. Right Speech: Abstaining from harsh words, lying, gossiping, exaggerating or chatting about things that don’t lead to enlightenment. X. Right Speech: This gets scratched from the list. With the rise of comedy, satire and mass media, it became too easy to have right intention, but wrong speech. The chatting that is the deal breaker. So I am giving all importance to Intention, and not Speech.
4. Right Action: Living by Buddha’s Moral Code, the 5 Precepts. Don’t Harm, Steal, Lie, Abuse the senses especially sexually, or use intoxicants, 3. Adapted Right Action: We don’t harm except occasionally eat meat prepared by someone else, No stealing except digital music downloads, no lies, recreational committed Sex is good, and intoxicants allowed if you don’t like your life.
5. Right Livelihood: Earn your living in a moral way that adheres to Right Action. X. Right Livelihood: Now impossible because China has their fingers in everything, and Chinese Government (not all the people) is as corrupt as it gets.
6. Right Effort: To actively prevent unwholesome states, eradicate existing unwholesomeness, arouse wholesome states that have yet to arise, to sustain wholesome states that have arisen. 4. Adapted Right Effort: Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. If you need something to distract you from your seriousness, go ahead. Don’t worry so much about right action.
7. Right Mindfulness: A controlled and precise faculty of cognition, allowing you to experience reality as it is without mental conditioning. X. Right Mindfulness: This one feasibly could fit into the Noble Path, as it doesn’t counteract any of the more active ingredients. But mindfulness is implied by Concentration, the final step of the path.
8. Right Concentration: In meditation, develop ability to sustain awareness on the present moment phenomena of the rising and passing of physical reality within your mind/body structure. One-pointedness is a state in which past Karmic scars are eradicated, leading to Nirvana. 5. Adapted Right Concentration: You get concentrated just enough to go to bed feeling good about the general direction of your progress. This “feel-good” meditation” makes it hard to remain consistent when you just don’t feel like meditating. But you can always adapt your right effort as well, so no worries there.

It seems perfectly fine to edit down and correct some of the original oversights of Gautama the Buddha. Some of his other work has also undergone my sword. For example, his Four Noble Truths have been eased back to include Three Noble Truths and Two Half-Truths. After all, Half-truths can be really pleasant.

Warning to weary cyclists

Whereas my path is much easier, and beneficial to the world, I also admit that my adjustments, especially to Right Effort, have the potential to ensnare the Bodhisattva in dangerous cycles of hedonism and sensual addictions. The addictions could even lead to hell. But for the most part, it is a much more direct way to end suffering and also allow a bunch of vacations and side parties.

photo credit: chaojikazu
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