The Prince and the Monster - A Fable about Truth

Once there was a prince who was skillful in the use of the five weapons. One day he was returning home from his practice and met a monster whose skin was invulnerable.

The monster started for him but nothing daunted the prince. He shot an arrow at him which fell harmless. Then he threw his spear which failed to penetrate the thick skin. Then he threw a bar and a javelin but they failed to hurt the monster. Then he used his sword but the sword broke. The prince attacked the monster with his fists and feet but to no purpose, for the monster clutched him in his giant arms and held him fast. Then the prince tried to use his head as a weapon but in vain.

The monster said, "It is useless for you to resist; I am going to devour you." But the prince answered, "You may think that I have used all my weapons and am helpless, but I still have one weapon left. If you devour me, I will destroy you from the inside of your stomach."

The courage of the prince disturbed the monster and he asked, "How can you do that?" The prince replied, "By the power of the Truth."

Then the monster released him and begged for his instruction in the Truth.

The teaching of this fable is to encourage disciples to persevere in their efforts and to be undaunted in the face of many set backs.

- A Buddhist Fable

Right Livelihood: Noble Eightfold Path - Part 5

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The 5th precept of the Noble Eightfold Path surrounds the way we choose to use our talents and select professions. It states that we should earn our livings legally and peacefully.

This means that we should conduct ourselves honestly, speak with kindness, honor the agreements we've made, refrain from cheating and avoiding forceful behavior in an effort to make money.

Let's face it...we've gone through a wild period of time throughout the world. Far too many of us have worked for organizations (banks, mortgage companies, manufacturers, etc.) that have been run on greed, mistreatment of employees and lies. Buddha states flatly that this is not the way to run businesses. And I'd guess that he would recommend not working for a company that lies, cheats and steals its way to success.

Many believe that the only way to get ahead is through the above practices, but Buddha would say that success is relative and that when gained wrongly will come back to bite us in the end. We reap what we sow -- whether it is financial or moral collapse -- we feel it deeply.

Our attachments bring frowns to our faces, cancer to our bodies and strife within the human family. The past few years of financial collapse and pain have revealed to us that gradual financial gain done ethically, honestly and with regard to the entire human family may have kept us from collapse.

Right Livelihood can be achieved -- it can be done by honoring humanity, choosing a profession that truly reflects our passions & talents, creating products that will better the environment,  avoiding greed, paying employees what they are worth (because they will give soooo much more), treating employees with honor and refraining from success gained by force or brutality.

A few questions we must ask ourselves include:

- Do I believe in what I work for? (if you don't -- you may want to rethink your career)

- Are my products & services causing suffering to others or the environment?

- Am I fully utilizing my talents and passions?(if you aren't, you may want to make a change -- you were given your talents for a reason)

- What steps can I take to follow my passion and/or find a career that is in line with the Right Livelihood principals?

The Noble Eightfold Path calls for us to do the right thing, even if it causes financial pain. It hinges on the reality that when we do the right thing we gain riches beyond our current comprehension!! What is the use of gaining all the riches in the world when our minds, bodies and souls  suffer as result?

- By Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold

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Right Speech: Noble Eightfold Path Part 2

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Right speech may be one of the hardest tenants of the Noble Eightfold Path to follow. It is one that I find challenging at every turn!

Buddha laid out the following guidelines for Right Speech:

1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully.

2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others.

3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others.

4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.

Buddha sets the bar high for us trouble-making human beings! Yet we can't deny the pain and frustration that wrong speech can bring to our lives on a daily basis. Our words have such power over us that they creep into our muscles and bones -- they have the power to give us life or cripple our souls.

Many of us seem to feel we have the no lying part of Right Speech down, but very few of us have mastered the art of not talking badly about our neighbors/co-workers/friends/family members, or using words that offend, or engage in idle chatter throughout the day.

I have to be the first to admit that I love to chatter - love to comment on things and discuss and talk and talk and talk. And sometimes it gets so darn tiring. It's actually freeing for me to realize that I just can be still and should be still more often. And when I'm being still, I'm learning to be a better listener.

Surrounding talking about others, I find it all too easy to be entertained by the latest gossip -- to hear the rundown on what Jane did yesterday, or what Tom is doing today, and about how Jane and Tom got into an argument over x,y and z. I listen and engage in the drama-filled gossip session, and I find myself tired and a bit stressed by the end. Jane and Tom's x, y's and z's become my problems indirectly -- and yep...my muscles and bones feel it.

It is said that we don't use our minds to their fullest potential, and just maybe this has to do partially, or maybe even majorly with the words we choose to use and how much we engage in idle chatter. Sometimes we babble on about how we don't want to do something, or how silly it is we have to perform a certain action, etc. And by the time we are done going on and on and on, the thing that we dread would be completed and our minds reeling from the high from performing a task successfully.

Or we blurt out something and wish we could reel it back in -- and then we spend the rest of the day thinking about (while wasting mental energy) what we said. We worry about the repercussions of our words.

In a nutshell, we are our words. Our words shape and mold much of our daily experience.

I make mistakes each day. I choose words that I regret...but I need to remind myself that I can stop my words right as they are about to come out of my lips. And I can breathe...and let my ill-feelings pass. And if I fail and those words come spewing out of my mouth. I'll try again and again and again...and maybe...just maybe...I'll be on the Right Speech path one fine day.

-Post by Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold

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Right View: Noble EightFold Path - Part 1

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Right View, as taught in Buddhism, is the beginning and the end of the Noble Eightfold Path. It challenges you and me to look at life as boldly as possible - seeking out the truth of in all matters. It is also the realization that suffering is a part of this life. No matter how hard we try, we can't run from suffering in one form or another.

When we take the Right View approach to life - we look at ourselves, the decisions we have to make and our associations with people and the world, and cut through the bull. We stop telling stories and creating fantasies that keep us from true growth.

A prime example of this can be found in many families, friendships and colleagues. For example, in the case of an abusive parent or unruly teenager, we weave webs of excuses for our loved ones behaviors and end up with unspoken agreements in which we accept their behavior as OK. Our agreements can include, "He or she is like this because of his/her childhood," "I am one of the causes of his/her demise, so they can do whatever they'd like...and hopefully one day they'll get better," or "If I stop putting up with his/her behavior, they'll leave and I'll be alone."

When we see things rightly, we stop weaving webs and complex stories, stare the truth in the eyes and address the core problems/issues.

In the case of the unruly family member, we tell them directly that their actions are wrong and unjust and set boundaries. If they cross those boundaries, we detach ourselves lovingly and let them deal with the consequences. We find within ourselves the strength to let go and detach from our fears of loss and guilt.

In the case of you and me -- with respects to our own behavior--we must work even harder, choosing bold action and adherence to our inner truths...even if this means temporary challenges. When we do this, we open the door to our full potential and our true natures.

It is of vital importance to realize that right View is not the same as a Self Righteous View. Buddha makes it clear in his teachings that it is important to be flexible, open minded and without clinging to a dogmatic position. In this way, right view becomes a route to liberation rather than another obstacle.

Finally, to fully grasp Right View we must understand the Four Noble Truths:

1. Life means suffering.

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

4. We can take a gradual path away from suffering.

I was asked a question by a 19-year-old girl/woman today that made me reflect my own internal state. She asked, "when will I stop suffering in this life? Just when I think I have found happiness...I get knocked down again." I thought for a second about the Noble Eightfold Path and what it has taught me and replied:  "our ups and downs are just a part of being human...and I'm just learning to breathe through it all. The more we fight and struggle against life's ebbs and flows, the harder life becomes."

We strive each and every day to beat suffering and run away from pain, but Buddha would probably tell us to embrace what comes our way (both good and bad), resonate with it for a moment, and then let it drift into the ether. Dare to be like a mountain in the wind, unwavering and resolute...

Challenge for the Day: Finish this sentence - "I would find freedom if I were to be more truthful with myself and others about__________________."

Stay tuned for part 2 Noble Eightfold Path tomorrow!

-Jen Engevik of Project BE Bold

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The Noble Eightfold Path - A Recipe for Bold Living

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Ever heard of the famous and beautiful Noble Eightfold Path taught by Buddha centuries ago? No matter what your religious or spiritual persuasion, you can learn from it and use it to gauge whether or not your actions, thoughts and/or decisions are bold/noble.

The Noble Eightfold Path refers to right view, right thought, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Right View means to believe in the law of cause and effect and not be deceived by appearances and desires.

Right Speech means the avoidance of lying words, idle words, abusive words, and double-tongues.

Right Behavior means not to destroy any life, not to steal, or not to commit adultery.

Right Livelihood means to avoid any life choices that would bring shame.

Right Effort means to try to do one's best diligently toward the right direction.

Right Mindfulness means to maintain a pure and thoughtful mind.

Right Concentration means to keep the mind right and tranquil for its concentration, seeking to realize the mind's pure essence.

May we challenge ourselves to choose to follow the Noble Eightfold Path in our moment to moment attempt to live bold & amazing lives.

To gain a deeper understanding of the  Noble Eightfold Path, we'll take a close look at each of them over the next 8 days. I'd love to get your ideas surrounding them as we explore. Please leave comments in the next week!! Your thoughts will help shape our understand of them and inspire each other to live bolder, more thoughtful lives.

- Jen Engevik of Team Project BE Bold

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*The above was taken from The Teachings of Buddah by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai, Tokyo