I walked from the house in Halawa toward the cliffs overlooking the ocean, near the Kauhola Lighthouse. I followed the main trail for about five hundred yards until I came to a crossroads. I had been there with the group, so I knew to turn left. At the next T, I turned right. I walked on and came to another T. I didn’t know which way to go. I was out for a hike, so it didn’t matter. I turned right. I followed the path as it passed through shrubs and thickets of trees, and crossed other paths. I felt nervous that I would not be able to find my way back, so I turned around. There was not another human being in sight. I headed back down the path, looking for familiar intersections so I could tell where to turn to get back to the house. Every path looked the same and none looked familiar. I walked one way, turned and walk the other way, looking for any landmark that might tell me which way to go. I was completely lost. Everything looked the same. I felt panic rising. I thought that if I didn’t come back by dark, someone in the group would miss me and come looking. I could not imagine being out there after dark. I heard a noise and saw a woman walking toward me on the path. I asked her how to get back. She walked with me a long way to an intersection and told me to go straight from there. When I got back to the house, I felt relieved, embarrassed, and humbled. I mentioned to the group that hiking on the paths out on the bluffs was not something to take lightly. The paths revealed nothing.
When we find our way on our spiritual journey, we look for a path that reveals the truth, as one teacher put it, “a path with a heart.” We seek a path that is more about where we are than where we have been and are going. We need a path that liberates us.
After Buddha realized nirvana, he gave his first talk to his small group of fellow seekers. He described the Four Noble Truths. (Noble comes from the Sanskrit word, arya, meaning enlightened or noble person. Noble is more about those who follow the path than it is about the path itself.) The Fourth and final truth, the very way, Buddha said, to end dissatisfaction, alienation and anxiety in our lives is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. That’s the answer. The key. The revealing path.
Buddha said that he taught two things: suffering (the essence of the first two Noble Truths) and the end of suffering (the essence of the last two Noble Truths). It is said that in every one of the thousands of talks that he gave over a forty-year period, Buddha described some aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path.