For those who sincerely and honestly wish to transform themselves and achieve true happiness and Enlightenment, The True Eightfold Path: Guideposts for Self-innovation released by Ryuho Okawa, World Teacher and CEO of Happy Science Group (March 30, 2021 IRH Press) is the most genuine and certain way to do so. It is not only worldly happiness and Enlightenment that this path brings, but also, and more importantly, it allows the transformation of character and the soul itself. This is the reason why ‘The Eightfold Path’ is called ‘The Secret Treasure of Mankind.’
Many people are at least vaguely familiar with the core Buddhist teaching of the Eightfold Path, but what does it mean for people today? Over time, the meaning of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings from over 2,500 years ago have been lost despite a myriad of modern interpretations by Buddhist scholars and secular scientists. Okawa’s The True Eightfold Path is not simply another interpretation of the old teachings; rather it is a new re-preaching of the Eightfold Path as if Buddha is reborn in this age and preaching to people for the sake of addressing soul-development in the contemporary world. The experience of a soul today differs in many ways from that which was experienced during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. The earth as a whole has advanced immensely in science and technologies, however, technologies that can both help and hinder humanity are a part of everyday life.
The eight steps in The True Eightfold Path consist of ‘right view’, ‘right thought’, ‘right speech’, ‘right action’ ‘right living’ ‘right effort’ ‘right will’ and ‘right meditation.’ The underlying concept which penetrates these eight steps is to accept and assume ‘self-responsibility’ in one’s life 100% of the time, not 99% or less, if one wishes to make transformation in his or her soul, elevate the quality of their soul and progress towards the attainment of Enlightenment.
Contemporary socio-political philosophies which de-emphasize individual responsibility, hierarchy, and the role of religion in society, are spreading rapidly. It is a common practice, in part due to Marxist indoctrination, to blame one’s environment for all of one’s difficulties in life. Environmental circumstances will always bring about some form of shortcoming, but as The True Eightfold Path teaches, all people are capable of changing their perspective of their life circumstances up to the present and in changing their views are able to subsequently change their life only if they become aware of and accept responsibility in their lives.
In The True Eightfold Path, Okawa gives step-by-step guidance for how to reflect on one’s view, thought, speech, action and so on, and to first analyze and objectively reflect on oneself in accordance with the laws of cause and effect and the laws of the mind. One then utilizes these eight steps as ‘eight keys’ to open the door of one’s inner heart or soul, discarding the shells of ego (false self) one by one and generating the light within called Buddha Nature or Divine Nature (true self), the core part of the human soul. According to Okawa, many people have experienced self-transformation and attained overwhelming joy through the practice of The True Eightfold Path. People who practice the Eightfold Path practice have discovered countless hidden treasures in their lives disguised as setbacks and unfavorable experiences, and have come to embrace their own unique life with gratitude. This experience led them to attain some kind of Enlightenment.
However, Okawa also states that Enlightenment is neither a sudden nor spontaneous state of being. Enlightenment is something that must be worked on continuously and maintained throughout one’s lifetime and even in the afterlife. This is because even if one thinks he or she has attained a small state of Enlightenment as a discovery, there is always another deeper level of Enlightenment or discovery that awaits and it will be a constant process of self-transformation and self-innovation. Hence, Enlightenment is like a journey which is an infinite work of progress, an eternal process of self-improvement.
A notable part in this book is that Okawa explains that individual endeavors towards Enlightenment will lead to the creation of a utopian society as a whole. In order to work towards a utopian society in which love, faith and democracy are omnipresent, one must first create a state of utopia within oneself. The utopia within one’s own heart and mind spreads to become the utopia of the collective civilization.
The more an individual takes responsibility in their life to become independent or self-sustainable, the better the world becomes, and one’s own work of striving towards Enlightenment may act as a beacon of light for others. Such is truly the only way in which a utopian vision for the world may ever be achieved. It is a path which must be based on the collective efforts of individual discipline toward Enlightenment.
Change begins from within oneself, and such is the crucial emphasis upon individual accountability as members of the human species. There must be personal transformation towards progress and benevolent self-innovation if the world is going to change in a positive direction. Ryuho Okawa has revived the power of “The Eightfold Path” and made it suitable for people who are seeking to better themselves in this age.