The Twelvefold Path

The Buddha had taught the Eightfold Path some 2,500 years ago.  The following is an upgrade and a revision of this formulation of the Path that is part of the Amritayana Buddhist Path.  What I would like to reaffirm is that all the elements that are expressed are present in other versions of Buddhism.  It is simply that some of the elements are made more important, more clear, and shown to be more necessary.

The 12 elements of the Path are:


(1) Right View.

The essence of this precept is to intellectually understand the natural worldview of an enlightened being, understand what meditation is and how to do it, understand the way of life that supports this practice, and understand the process of transformation that mutates an ordinary samsaric being (homo sapien) into a buddha (homo holographicus).  Any study of any sutras and high quality Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, Christian Mystical, Qabalistic, Shamanic, and Taoist books will help.  However, there are some fairly unique and precise teachings that are part of Buddhism that I feel are integral to the process.  Although the essence of these teachings may be found in other traditions, the more precise formulation is helpful in gaining some living understanding about the meditation process that can be immediately used.  Gaining the Right View is more important on this path than other paths.  Bhakti Yoga, for instance, is a path of devotion.  A rational foundation is not as essential to this path, because the learning process is mainly through emotion and learning how to love.

(2) Right Commitment.

Once we understand the view, then we may find a spontaneous faith arise from our exploration of the teachings.  We are inspired to commit to becoming enlightened, to undergoing the mutation into a Buddha, and to do what is necessary for this mutation to happen.  This commitment engages our free choice.  This commitment makes the intellectual understanding into a living knowledge which works inside us to change us.  Without commitment, we may have, at best, a sophisticated philosophy that may explain more about what it means to be human, what our purpose is, and what are possibilities are.  But with commitment we have a living path that we are choosing to walk upon and to discover something in our own experience.  This choice has the power to change us forever.


(3) Right Speech.

Right Speech is about speaking kind and truthful words, about not harming others with our words.  Sometimes a person may suffer when he or she hears something about himself or herself that is unpleasant to realize and sometimes there is no way that this kind of pain can be avoided, but we can have at least the loving intention to wish them to receive the truth peacefully and this intention will shape our communication so that it will peaceful the receiving of truth happens more often.  When we have the intention of not harming someone with our words, we are more able to share these insights in a more healing context.  We also respect the free choice of the person and willingness to hear what we have to say.  If a person is not ready, we can be silent until he or she is more able to hear us.  Right Speech is also about speaking only what we know from our experience.  This is different than sharing what we have intellectually memorized and have intellectually believed.  We can be honest and state that we believe certain things but do not yet really know them or have not fully verified them in our experience.  In a similar manner, we are not meant to exaggerate what we know or have achieved.  Most Buddhists are modest and will, for the sake of safety, understate their attainments, rather than to give people a false impression of what they have attained.  Right Speech has the intention of only speaking what is spiritually nourishing, what promotes harmony and peace among people, and only what a person is receptive to hearing.  Right Speech does not promote disharmony, spread false malicious rumors, or breed tension among individuals.  Right Speech does not force anything on a person which he or she is not open to hearing.  We honor the free choice that people have and do not teach them anything without their permission.

(4) Right Behavior.

Right Behavior is based on treating others the way that we wish to be treated.  It means not killing others, not stealing, and not lying.  Buddhism has the goal of ending sorrow and therefore does not intend to inflict unnecessary sorrow on others.

(5) Right Attitude.

Right Attitude is to cultivate generosity, patience, endurance, devotion, discipline, skill, surrender, humility, persistence, acceptance, vitality, and faith.  The more we cultivate these attitudes, the less sorrow that we have and the less sorrow we inflict on others.  Right Attitude, too, is about not having false views, but to stay within the worldview of the Dharma and to mentally align our thinking with this view.

(6) Right Economics.

This is finding a way of making money in the world that truly serves humanity, lessens sorrow, promotes happiness and peace, and fulfills real needs.  The Buddha taught people to not make money by working at slaughter houses for consuming animals, working a places that make death dealing weapons, and to not make money through scams or trickery.  I gather that these precepts are not absolute, that there are times when weapons and warfare are necessary, but the intention behind the precepts is clear.  How we make money involves ethical decisions and we should make choices that uplift humanity rather than exploit other humans, kill them or enslave other species.

(7) Right Diet.

In the original Eightfold Path, this precept was hidden within "not to kill" which implied not killing and eating animals and within the precept of not using intoxicants which, in turn, implied not eating anything that was toxic.  The Buddha also recommended fasting for purification.  In the Lankavatara Sutra, he recommended a "sattvic diet".  This is a balanced diet that did not have any mind numbing drugs or superstimulants.  This generally meant that Aryurvedic Dietary principles were being taught.  On the Amritayana Path, these teachings are collected into a precept about right diet and recommends a vegan orientation.  Chinese Mahayana Buddhism has been the most consistent Buddhist tradition in keeping a vegan orientation.  Milarepa, too, found that certain foods were more conducive to energy movement throughout the body and therefore helpful in terms of energy healing meditations which are central to regenerating the human body.  This means that diet is both ethical and health oriented in this tradition.

This precept involves a fair amount of study.  What is recommended is to first start with a simple vegan diet and to try it out for about one month, eating only fresh salads, fruit smoothies, hearty vegetable soups, and some bean dishes (aduki, lentils, and black beans are good choices).  During this time, avoiding a lot of spices, keeping the salt minimal, and drinking some medicinal herbal teas is good.  This diet will have the effect similar to a fast for those who are not used to its simplicity and purity.  It is somewhat easier than starting with pure water fast to start with as it is less of a shock to the body.  After one month of eating this way, then it is possible to do a three day water fast.  If drinking pure water and eating no food seems too intense, then it is possible to drink some water with a touch of lemon or lime juice and a teaspoon of pure organic maple syrup or blue agave nectar.  This will provide a small amount of nutrition and keep the body within the "fasting reflex".  When the body eats enough food of any kind, the body will not activate certain of its deep cleansing processes.  Although a three day fast seems short, it is sufficient to do a lot of good detoxing and will allow the body to move beyond some of its food addictions.  The 48 hour juncture can be particularly intense if there are a lot of toxins to flush out.  It is possible that the body will develop some skin rashes to flush out toxins.  Taking a warm hot bath is useful at this juncture and some herbal teas can help this part of the fasting process.  Skilled guidance by a qualified healer is helpful at this stage.  Once this juncture is moved through, then the third day one can sometimes feel very renewed.  People vary in how they respond to this kind of fast.

Once the body has taken a break from eating, then we are more able to be in touch with our food experience.  When we are in the normal food addicted mode of conventional samsaric life, we do not really pay much attention to the process of food preparation and digestion.  We are mainly attached to certain taste sensations and the stimulants in our foods.  Becoming conscious of what we eat and how it affects us is a deep subject and part of living a conscious evolutionary lifestyle.  What we eat determines how well our biochemical nature functions and evolves.  It is about 10 percent of the evolutionary equation.  Our approach to eating can be refined to a very advanced point to support mutation into another kind of body.  Becoming vegan is a vast biochemical change that affects our entire relationship to nature.  Our glands will no longer secrete the subtle corpse odors of the dead animals that we have consumed and therefore will not terrorize the peaceful vegetarian animals that exist around us.  It is no accident that carnivorous animals attack their prey from down wind.  If they were to try to attack from up wind, the sweat gland odors of their bodies, revealing the graveyard of animals being digested within them, would signal to the vegetarians that a predator is nearby.  Humans, in general, do not have the keen sensitivity to odors as most animals have.  But odors reveal much about the biochemical processes happening inside the body.  A vegan body tends to run more alkaline than a carnivore body.  A more alkaline brain functions differently than an acidic brain.  Breathing well further alkalizes the human body, releases all kinds of toxins, and nourishes the energy channels with life force energy.  A spiritually oriented diet supports deeper energetic processes, while a conventional diet can actually congest subtle energy flows and create pockets where cancer and diseases can thrive.

The idea is to add foods back into the diet after a fast and feel how each one affects one.  What makes us feel healthier?  What makes us feel that we have more energy?  What stimulates us in a such a way that we are more nervous and restless (rajasic)?  What makes us feel dull, tired, and numb?  What does overeating feel like?  What does undereating feel like?  What combinations of foods synergize well and what combinations of foods produce a congested feeling and make our digestive fire work harder?

Beyond having the ordinary evolutionary supportive level of diet as a foundation, there are medicinal substances that can be taken to boost our evolution.  When I share this, I am not talking about hallucinogens which are a kind of superstimulant which can produce valid and valuable spiritual experiences, but usually with some energetic price, biochemical price, and have some recovery time required, but substances that represent a kind of higher level of nutrition and boost the ability of the body to permanently function at greater health.  These other substances can sometimes help to produce spiritual and visionary experiences as well, but as a by product of the higher level of functioning that they open up.  Usually these substances will produce visionary experiences when combined with meditation practices and energy practices that open up the meridian flows.  They are sometimes slower acting than superstimulants, but repeated taking of higher nutritional and medicinal substances is usually positive, unless the body is healed enough to not need them any more.  Superstimulants often have a law of diminishing returns where more is needed as time goes on to produce the effect and more internal resources are depleted.  Eventually the body starts defending against the ingrediant, forming enzymes to break down the chemical when it arrives in the body, and making the results happen even less, and with overall health being adversely affected.  Part of the reason why is because the superstimulants do not produce the intense experiences that they trigger, but instead use up substances that are within us.

I mention this, because I have a lot of friends who do use these superstimulants.  They may have a valid place in the medicinal arsenal that we are meant to draw upon.  I imagine that if you take good care of your health, take extra supplements, exercise regularly, do Hatha Yoga and Tai Chi, that your body can handle such visionary boosts, especially if only done twice a year maximum and only use them for sacred purposes.  But they are not integral to the Amritayana Buddhist Path and are not necessary.  If you do the 12 precepts, you will have plenty of visionary experiences without them.  I think that the superstimulants may have helped many to open up to the spiritual dimension of life and therefore gave something very valuable.  But after a certain amount of repeated experience, then they may not be as necessary and may not be worth their energetic cost.  There are also a number of people who are addicted to some of these superstimulants and who are definitely hurting their lives by overusing them.  I think people in general underestimate the energetic high that comes from superhealth and this is what this other path offers.  In any case, right diet is about learning to use food and medicinal substances in a wise way to serve our evolution.  How superstimulants fit into this is something I will leave to each individual and at least recommend a lot of care and sensitivity about their use.  I personally do not take them.

(8) Right Sexual Union.

This precept was one of the five subprecepts in "right behavior" in the original Eightfold Path.  Like Right Diet, this precept deserves its own category.  In the older teachings, there was really nothing new in the precept to not misuse sexual energy.  It involved respecting your partner, not lying to them, not stealing energy from them, and not killing their self worth.  What makes this precept different has to do with the importance of conserving and using your sexual energy wisely.  It is not meant to merely satisfy sexual cravings or lust.  It is meant to be contained in a celibate sexual energy yoga or within a tantric partnership with another person.  When it is involved with the second possibility, it is meant to be within "karma mudra".  It is meant to flourish into a biological and biochemical love for another person which deepens into an emotional and spiritual love.  A dual vehicle is generated that helps both people burn away their karma.  Because karma is shared, both people need a certain kind of commitment to their individual enlightenment process, as well as their commitment to their relationship process.  If people are unwilling to make this kind of commitment, then the relationshp becomes a limited one.  It is about pleasure and addiction or emotional bonding and possessiveness.  On the Amritayana Path, sexual energies are creative and regenerative, and therefore are meant to be utitlized for healing and enlightenment.

On the Amritayana Path, the two genders are not merely equal.  They represent two principles that are meant to be conjoined, each completing the other so that enlightenment can happen.  When Buddha became enlightened, he balanced his inner male and inner female, and then manifested what are called the 32 marks.  These are 16 male traits and 16 female traits related to the glandular chemistry being balanced.  Correspondingly, White Tara shows the 32 marks as they manifest in a female body.  A tantric partnership is meant to accelerate this balancing by each gender learning to love their polarity.  The ways that males and females are the same and different is used as a kind of food to accelerate growth into this balance.

The strategy of celibacy is about devoting time to concentrate on meditation and about not feeding sexual craving.  But by itself it is an incomplete transformation, some experience in relationship is useful to test the level of realization and to refine it further.  The challenge is to see if relationship can grow completely beyond addiction and possessiveness.

In terms of homosexual relationships, my feeling is that any truly loving partnership is wholesome and worthwhile for a person to be in.  Most of the same principles apply to these kinds of relationships in terms of energetic evolution.  There may be, however, something about the conjoining of male and female that is still different and which may be more optimal for a certain kind of alchemy.  There are interlocking glands that stimulate processes in the opposite gender and produce a very distinctive chemical factory, activate a powerful kundalini movement, and shift the functioning of the conjoined bodies.  This is not merely when a male and female are engaged in love making, but also when they are sharing loving breathing space with each other and living nearby each other.  Just as right diet can activate and support a different evolutionary biochemisty emerging within us, sexual union and sexual partnership can do something similar and in a very vastly accelerated way.

I use the word "may" in the above paragraph very deliberately, because it seems that the glandular processes in a homosexual partnership do change and do function differently.  It seems that the couple mutates so that the hormonal functions are creating energetic movement and that it is probably supportive of the same evolutionary kundalini awakening that is part of heterosexual evolution or something parallel.  In any case, it seems that celibacy, homosexual unions, and heterosexual unions all have their own ways of supporting the evolutionary energy that is meant to mutute us into buddhas.  Part of right sexual union is to become aware of how sexual energy functions and to treat it as the creative sacred force that it is.  There is an addictive level where sex becomes mere pleasuring and an emotional level where it becomes possessiveness.  There is a more mature way of experiencing sexual energy that is about knowing how to be present to surrender to the kundalini movement that is generated within the union.  I believe that this union is meant to serve our evolution and that is superior to the celibate path.  It is rare, however, that it works as fully as it could, because there is a lot of social conditioning and social expectation that does not acknowledge this higher evolutionary possibility and does not know how to bring it forward.


(9) Right Attention.

There is an energy beyond thought that is called radiant awareness, which is our true nature.  In the beginning, we learn how to give attention to our life without the judgments, stories, and interpretations of thought.  We notice in our direct experience many truths about life.  We learn to watch our life without clinging or resistance.

(10) Right Correction.

When our understanding is mature, then we notice and release our clinging and our resistance.  This gentle correction changes us, makes us relax more into our inner being, and makes us less vulnerable to activations of samskaras due to sensory stimuli.

(11) Right Breathing.

Through breathing we can gather life force energy into our bodies and regenerate it.  Our further evolution needs the support of this energy and we eventually learn to direct this energy to exact places inside us in order to grow.

(12) Right Abiding.

Eventually we learn how to rest in our true nature, "abiding in awareness as awareness," and then learn to not let things move us from our rootedness in our true nature.  We learn how to not get identified with transitory phenomena.  This core practice eventually leads us into the experience of nirvana or perfect enlightenment.  We will have flashes of this along the way.  The very act of abiding in awareness as awareness is us resting in our Buddha Nature.  This is  the core of the process.  When we abide this way, the evolution spontaneously happens around our "effortless effort" to abide here.