Mental Discipline is the second section of the Noble Eightfold Path and is quite involved. This is where the mind is trained in Buddhist meditation and thought. This is the nitty-gritty of the Eightfold Path and where the real practice begins.
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
Right Effort is best summed up by a quote from the Sacca-vibhanga Sutta as follows:
And what is right effort?
Here the monk arouses his will, puts forth effort, generates energy, exerts his mind, and strives to prevent the arising of evil and unwholesome mental states that have not yet arisen.
He arouses his will… and strives to eliminate evil and unwholesome mental states that have already arisen. He arouses his will… and strives to generate wholesome mental states that have not yet arisen.
He arouses his will, puts forth effort, generates energy, exerts his mind, and strives to maintain wholesome mental states that have already arisen, to keep them free of delusion, to develop, increase, cultivate, and perfect them.
This is called right effort.
When all is said and done, the Buddha is the best person to consult regarding the doctrines he put forth.
The same goes for right mindfulness, the following quote is again from the Sacca-vibhanga Sutta and shows what right mindfulness actually entails:
And what is right mindfulness?
Here the monk remains contemplating the body as body, resolute, aware and mindful, having put aside worldly desire and sadness;
he remains contemplating feelings as feelings;
he remains contemplating mental states as mental states;
he remains contemplating mental objects as mental objects, resolute, aware and mindful, having put aside worldly desire and sadness;
This is called right mindfulness.
Basically the monk or layperson detaches their mind from being engrossed in day to day trivialities and concentrates on being ‘mindful’ of exactly what is going on right now, both within himself and in the external world.
Right Concentration (Samadhi)
Right concentration is again summed up in the Saccavibhanga Sutta as follows:
And what is right concentration?
- Here, the monk, detached from sense-desires, detached from unwholesome states, enters and remains in the first jhana (level of concentration, Sanskrit: dhyāna), in which there is applied and sustained thinking, together with joy and pleasure born of detachment;
- And through the subsiding of applied and sustained thinking, with the gaining of inner stillness and oneness of mind, he enters and remains in the second jhana, which is without applied and sustained thinking, and in which there are joy and pleasure born of concentration;
- And through the fading of joy, he remains equanimous, mindful and aware, and he experiences in his body the pleasure of which the Noble Ones say: “equanimous, mindful and dwelling in pleasure”, and thus he enters and remains in the third jhana;
- And through the giving up of pleasure and pain, and through the previous disappearance of happiness and sadness, he enters and remains in the fourth jhana, which is without pleasure and pain, and in which there is pure equanimity and mindfulness.
This is called right concentration.
Right concentration is all about meditative states. This may seem like a lot to achieve but remember that you have multiple life times to do this in. Just achieving the first Jhana will bring great benefits. Patience is the name of the game and the more you practice the better your chances are of having a beneficial rebirth. Do not despair, you are on the right path and you will, as we all will, achieve Nibbana at some point in the future.