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All Saints' Day
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Today is All Saints' Day. I got to ruminating on the qualities that would qualify someone for sainthood (apart from the "miracles" stuff).

Listed were things like compassion, working for the community, focus on reality, acting in a manner consonant with one's beliefs, having a career or mode of living that furthered the betterment of one's fellow sentients. All of these things emanating from an understanding of the universe, and the intention to learn and love and be at peace.

I realized, as I sat on my patio, that I have come across these teachings in an old and well-known set of beliefs: The Eightfold Path, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment, itself derived from even older Hindu principles.

There are three main categories: Wisdom, Ethical Conduct and Mental Discipline.

Wisdom is the first category: right understanding and right intention. ("Right" is the translation of a Sanskrit word meaning complete or coherent or ideal or appropriat--not "right" in the sense of righteous.)

Ethical conduct is the second category: right speech, right action, right livelihood.

Mental discipline is the third category: right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

I like to substitute "appropriate" or "coherent" for "right" when thinking and talking about these eight precepts. What is appropriate may vary, depending on the circumstances with which we are presented or the capacity of each individual.

Each of these ideals is interactive with the others--this not a linear path to enlightenment. As I undertake to be mindful, with coherent intention and full concentration, I look for the right action to take, the right speech to make, having understood the situation as fully as I can.

You see how each part is interdependent with the others? The symbolism of the eight-spoked wheel is intended to keep us aware of the circle of life and the interdependent web of being, even as we attempt to understand, have correct intentions, speak and act and work in an enlightened way, with effort, mindfulness and concentration.

Even as a saint would.

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