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Episode 173 - How to begin the path to Nirvana

Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

Release Date: 07/24/2023

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Buddhism for Everyone with JoAnn Fox

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How do we start the path to enlightenment? After the Buddha attained enlightenment, he spent 45 years walking from place to place to give teachings. Buddha always tailored his teachings to reach people from all walks of life, religions, and social status. For some, he suggested focusing on emptiness; for others, loving-kindness or moral discipline. To those newly embarked on the spiritual path, he said, "This is the beginning (of the practice leading to Nirvana): control of the senses, contentment, and restraint according to the Fundamental Precepts. Associate with good friends, who are energetic and whose livelihood is pure."

In short, the supportive framework for those beginning the spiritual path has four parts:

  • Control the senses

  • Contentment 

  • Restraint according to the Precepts

  • Associate with good friends. 

Contentment: Contentment is the practice of finding satisfaction and peace with what one has and not constantly seeking external sources of happiness. Contentment is a way to counteract desires and attachments that lead to suffering. By learning to be content with simplicity, we can focus our energy on spiritual growth and inner peace.

Control of the Senses: The senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) are like powerful rivers through which attachment can arise. Practicing control of the senses involves being mindful and disciplined in how we interact with sensory stimuli. Exercising restraint means not indulging in sensory pleasures excessively or in harmful ways. Experiencing pleasure is OK and is the result of good karma. Practicing restraint in regard to pleasures that harm ourselves or others, however, helps us develop self-discipline and cultivate a more balanced mind.

Restraint According to the Fundamental Precepts: The 5 Precepts in Buddhism are taken by people who are not a monk or a nun. The 5 Precepts are ethical guidelines that lay the foundation for spiritual progress and a compassionate life. Taking the 5 Precepts is the traditional way one becomes a Buddhist. The 5 Precepts include refraining from killing living beings, stealing, engaging in sexual misconduct, lying, and becoming intoxicated. 

Association with Good Friends: The company we keep strongly influences our thoughts, behaviors, and spiritual development. Associating with good friends, often referred to as "Kalyanamitta" or "Kalyanamitra" in Buddhism, means surrounding oneself with individuals who are sincere in their spiritual practice, ethical in their conduct, and supportive of one's spiritual aspirations. Good friends inspire and motivate each other on the path to enlightenment, providing guidance, encouragement, and a positive environment for growth.

References and Links


Buddha (1986).The Dhammapada: Verses and Stories. Translated by Daw Mya Tin, M.A. (Website). Edited by Editorial Committee, Burma Tipitaka Association Rangoon. Courtesy .of Nibbana.com. For free distribution only, as a gift of dhamma. https://www.tipitaka.net/tipitaka/dhp/verseload.php?verse=368