My new tattoo and the eightfold path

Two years ago in a Nepalese lake town, I got a lotus flower tattooed on my left wrist.
It was to symbolise compassion that I had amassed when forgiving my abusers.
One day, I told myself, I will get the dharma wheel on my other wrist, symbolising wisdom.
These two concepts are integral in Buddhism that I had just started exploring.
Then, I was in the midst of addiction, unemployed, unable to take care of myself.
Last week, I celebrated 8 months sober and got my other wrist tattooed.

The eightfold path represented by the wheel shows the Buddhist way of living a happy live and attaining enlightenment (aren’t those two the same really?).
Listening to this surprisingly funny and lighthearted talk by the Ven. Ajahn Brahn, I thought I would write up the eight principles to live by so that I may better remember them now that they are inked onto me:

  1. Right View
    Do we see people and things as they are or how we want to see them?
    Do we choose our perspective to see kindness and love instead of faults?

2. Right Thought
Do we have the right intention and motivation?
Do we know how to read and follow our gut instinct?

3. Right Speech
Do we speak honestly and not judge others for doing so?
Do we offer support for vulnerability?

4. Right Action
Do we abide by ethics and are open to criticism?
Do we acknowledge, forgive and learn from our mistakes?

5. Right Livelihood
Can we be proud of the way we earn a living?
Are we aware that it can impact our mental and physical health?

6. Right Endeavour
Do we aim to prevent and get rid of unhelpful frames of mind?
Do we encourage positive thoughts and feelings?
Do we lower our expectations to suit reality?

7. Right Mindfulness
Are we able to let go of the past without struggling?
Can we be merely a visitor in the moment, aware but not possessive?

8. Right Concentration
Can we give up all sensations, even happiness, for pure compassion?
Can we trade thinking in circles for pure awareness?

These eight principles symbolise the eight spines of the wheel.
In the middle, there are usually 3 spirals for the Buddha (found within each one of us), the dharma (the teachings) and the sangha (our community).
If you would like to know more, this article has more details.

Following the eightfold path, energy is not wasted in reacting, but only in knowing.
People are so tired nowadays and are often too drained to live mindfully.
When this happens, they might go to a silent retreat like I did (read more about it here).
Or get tattoos and write lengthy blog posts about them!

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