The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path Reflections: Spiritual Practice as Part of a Wider Path


On the Eightfold Noble Path, it is important to remember that meditative practice is only one element of the wider path.  Philosophy, ethics, practice.  It all works together.  

In regards to ethics, I am reminded of a quote from The Perennial Philosophy:
 

"Nor are changes in the knower’s physiological or intellectual being the only ones to affect his knowledge. What we know depends also on what, as moral beings, we choose to make ourselves. 'Practice,' in the words of William James, 'may change our theoretical horizon, and this in a twofold way: it may lead into new worlds and secure new powers. Knowledge we could never attain, remaining what we are, may be attainable in consequences of higher powers and a higher life, which we may morally achieve.' To put the matter more succinctly, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'"


On nearly all spiritual paths, meditative practice works in conjunction with other elements of life, such as the ethical choices we make.  "Just meditation" isn't enough.  All of life is practice. 

I think a lot in terms of selflessness.  We have to choose to be selfless.  It doesn't just happen magically.  This is part of the ongoing tension between forming yourself and being formed.