Secular Buddhism — a relatively new development in the world of Buddhist practice — can serve as a resource for people who are seeking to escape atomization and instead create loving connections with each other and nature. The notion of an Illuminated Tenfold Path is a helpful guide on this journey.
I explored the idea of the Illuminated Tenfold Path idea in more depth in my print article on “Secular Buddhism and the Quest for a Lived Ethics” in Tikkun‘s Winter 2014 issue. Here is a quick introduction for the readers of Tikkun Daily
Introduction to The Illuminated Tenfold Path
A mural in Chiang Mai, Thailand, shows Siddhartha, the man who became the Buddha, witnessing death and disease for the first time. Credit: Creative Commons/Akuppa John Wigham.
The Noble Eightfold Path has served historical Buddhism as the ‘way’ – the path leading to the cessation of suffering – as the ‘medicine’ of the last of the Four Noble Truths. It has been the source of the awakened wisdom that eliminates the obstacles to realization of greed, anger, and delusion and gives insight into the true nature of phenomena. Reciprocally, the first of the eight is View, which leads back to the first of the Four Noble truths and their comprehension and application. The Eightfold Path has also been called the Middle Way and is represented by the Dharma Wheel with its eight spokes.
With all of its sanctity and the great devotion given for over 2000 years to the Eightfold Path, there comes a time for its re-examination, modernization – if appropriate and beneficial – and a new languaging that is engaging for its meaningfulness for our time. Within a framework of what is being called secular Buddhism – namely, that which is a pragmatic path for this life without the Absolutes of religious metaphysics, the elements in the Eightfold Path that are renunciative of this life and its difficulties – and its bliss and pleasure states as well – these are removed from the Illuminated version.
This revision, the Illuminated Tenfold Path, then is a here-and-now vehicle for transformation of the same obstacles, but without the influence of monasticism and with the stress on acceptance of the varieties of humans and sentient beings living together in the complexities of relationships and connection, in a world that is overpopulated and stressed by our human impact on the very nature of life. The Illuminated Tenfold Path is adapted to our time’s focus on sexual/love relationships and our fundamental need to learn to share and nurture each other. The adjective ‘Noble’ has been supplanted with the less aristocratic, more to the point ‘Illuminated’ – as in light on the path of awakening – and other language has been substituted to make meanings clearer and more contemporary.
The Illuminated Tenfold Path is an offering for our times – a guide to our inner life and our connection with community and nature. It is to be further adapted by others like you and presented in the hope that it will serve you and yours.