Be Free, Part Two: Practical Examples
I have some practical examples for how choosing the right path would help us in being free from all obsessions. In this part I'll give examples on how each of the eight sides of the Noble Path can help us be free. In the next part, I'll speak of one of those things we confuse with obsessions.
- Right Views: if you're Egyptian or an Arab or someone who follows world news, you'd know that we, here in Egypt, are having our first ever presidential elections. The example I'll give here is a weird one, but I have a point. We've seen what happened when the Salafi Abu Ismaeel was out of the presidential race because of his mother being American. We've seen that it has been proven so many times in so many ways, but the guy's supporters would not believe any word that has been said about it. They have decided to blindfold themselves and not believe anyone but Abu Ismaeel himself, and even though they have seen all the possible proofs, they are still fighting for someone who is no nothing but a lair. Yes, they were brainwashed by religion, by how good Abu Ismaeel is with words, by how he never fails to speak in a way that would make you want to listen to him even if you don't like what he's saying, but this is not my point here. The point is that these people have attached themselves to a person who can so easily be a traitor, and that is exactly what has happened, he turned out to be a liar! They believed in him so much and believed that nothing could change their opinions about him, and that is exactly what happened when he turned out to be nothing like what he says he is. If they had believed that their idea of him is not necessarily the truth, but rather how they see it, things could have been a lot different.
- Right Intention: here again, I'm choosing an example from our political mess, and this time it is about the Muslim Brotherhood. I am against those people more than most others, but I can't stop myself from seeing and admiring how they always choose an aim that they stick to even with the change of people. This example might seem unfair in some ways, because their intention can't be called "right" when it is a selfish one that cares only about the brotherhood and not the country, but I guess it would explain what I want to say. These people's intention is to rule the country, whether their candidate is Khairat El Shater or Mohamed Morsy is not the real issue. Their real issue, their aim, is to apply their "renaissance project". They are attached to an aim that is more timeless than many others, one that does not depend on a person, but rather a project that any member can apply. That project being selfish, and them choosing to go by "the end justifies the means" is the disaster, but I like how they're attached to a more timeless aim than many of us.
- Right Speech: imagine with me, a husband and a wife who have been in love with each other ever since they met and believe so much that they have made the right choice and all these nice things. Just like any couple, they have a fight, let's say it's because the husband forgot to turn the clothes drier on before they went to bed. They wake up to the awful smell of the newly washed clothes stuck in the unturned drier. The wife gets angry and starts telling her husband how it's all his fault and now their clothes must be washed again. She goes on about how she wanted to wear one of those shirts to work today, but the husband doesn't see that he's done a disaster. He just tells her that she has tons of clothes and she can wear anything else. The woman gets angrier and now claims that the husband never does anything to help her (even though this is not true). Now the man gets angrier too and says that it is not a problem if she washes them again and she just loves complaining. Then the woman gets angrier, so does the man and the fight ends by the man telling the woman that he has no idea why or how he chose to marry her (even though he knows that he chose her because she's the love of his life). They stop talking to each other, and make up a month later or something. Now, the husband did not intend to forget to turn the drier on, yet the wife might still be unhappy for not being able to wear what she planned to wear. But should this ever lead to saying these words? NO! They both let their anger control them and have gone so far from the right speech. The problem could have been solved in one minute by the guy just apologizing to his wife for forgetting to turn on the damn drier and the wife could have stopped herself from being angry and speaking words that are not true and that might even have no place in this drier fight. If both would have chosen the right speech, no fight would have happened and no time would have been wasted. Yes, that is what happens when you let your attachment to anger control your speech.
- Right Action: we live in a world filled with sexual harassment, and yes it has to be stopped and YES, no woman should ever feel scared of walking in the streets alone, and NO she shouldn't be under the mercy of a man who sees her being harassed and may or may not choose to help her. But imagine with me if men actually cared and decided to take a stand and stop a harasser when they see one, wouldn't sexual harassment decrease? Wouldn't the world be a better place? A person who chooses to do the right action even though he knows he might be harmed in some way, is one who is attached to the right action. A person who attaches himself to chivalry, for example, would be free from the attachments to his body (as in worrying if the harasser might hit him in the process of saving the victim), and of course this is one example. In my opinion, the right action is one of the most important sides of the Noble Path.
- Right Livelihood: you know how some businessmen go crazy when they grow up? One might for example sell all he owns, take the money, buy a yacht and run off with a girl 30 years younger than him and abandon his family. This happens a lot, it is the result of living a life of doing nothing but work. Suddenly the person finds out that he has grown up without having any fun and decides to go to the other extreme. Same with a woman who has lived her whole life without ever working or earning her own money. Her husband suddenly dies and leaves her with three kids not knowing how to feed them. Being attached to the right livelihood will make you like having fun and like working, and you do them moderately so never feel the urge to stop something and be obsessed with the other.
- Right Effort: let's imagine another married couple; the man has the ability to do ten things a day and the woman can do nothing but a thing or two a day. This is not about how bad or good a person is, but about the right rhythm of that person, the rhythm that would make them live a life they love. The man works from 9:00 to 5:00, he goes workout, then gets back home to have dinner, asks his wife if she wants to go out and she doesn't because she's already tired of all the housework, but she says yes anyway. This happens everyday, she lives a life that it too fast for her, she's never happy, she's always obsessing about rest and whenever she gets the chance she just sits there doing absolutely nothing. Or she might say no when she's asked to go out, then she'd live by her own rhythm happily doing a lot more than she used to do, but with the right pace. For the man, he lives a life that is boring and he feels like he's doing absolutely nothing, always obsessing about doing more.... If you choose to do the right effort, you'll feel satisfied with what you're doing, never obsessing about wanting to do more or needing to do less.
- Right Mindfulness: there are many types of attention, but I'll speak of the most important one, the voluntary attention. If a person sits in a class and the teacher is explaining something, he might hear what she says, but she doesn't necessarily have his full attention. He might be thinking about dinner in the back of his mind. He goes home and, after dinner, he tries to study, but doesn't understand half the class that he wasn't paying attention to. By choosing to give the right attention to class, he will not only have no feelings of him being stupid because he doesn't understand anything. He will also set his mind free from obsessing about food, or anything else during that time.
- Right Concentration: There is a person sitting in their living room with a television turned on to something of real value, a documentary about global warming for example. This person also has a laptop on which s/he has been playing an addictive game on for hours. The person can choose to put their concentration to the game or to the documentary. By choosing to put your concentration in the right place, first you benefit from where you put that concentration and also you set your mind free from other unimportant things that might turn into obsessions at any minute.