First do no harm

This week I am concentrating on the “Right Action” step of the Eightfold Path.

It’s been really fascinating reading.  I was aware of the basic aspects of Right Action – which are:

♥  abstain from killing

♥  abstain from lying

♥  abstain from stealing

♥  abstain from sexual misconduct

♥  abstain from intoxicants


I didn’t realise the broader applications of this step of the path though.

That “abstain from killing” can really be extended to “do no harm”.  Do no harm to yourself or others.  

Any physical action that hurts another person – vandalizing property, arson, intimidation, practical jokes – are all acts of harm.

The same as for “abstain from stealing”.  This applies not only to obvious acts of stealing – for example robbery – but to everything that we take that is not given.  Even so far as taking credit for someone else’s work.  Or pointing out if a store clerk has forgotten to charge you for something, or given you too much change.

For the last step “abstain from intoxicants”, we can look behind the words, and the obvious connotations – no alcohol or drugs – to the higher level of meaning we can find in these words. In what other ways do we “drug” ourselves?  Surfing the internet when we should be working, watching extreme amounts of TV, indulging in anything in large amounts (sugar, junk food etc) – are all ways of escaping.

On the opposite side “abstaining from intoxicants” means eating well, and looking after our bodies.  Which is a great coincidence for me, as I bought a juicer on the weekend, and have been enjoying experimenting with juices, and am trying hard to eat a lot healthier.


I’m looking forward to exploring this more in the coming week.

For me today, I concentrated on “do no harm”.  Whilst walking to school I was careful not to accidentally step on any snails or other insects.

Upon walking home I found a snail that had obviously been injured by someone walking before me.  I picked it up gently and put it in a safe place, hoping that it would recover.

And in another instance, I found a butterfly that had been killed and was lying on the foothpath.  I couldn’t just walk past and leave it. So I picked it up and gently carried it to a nice sheltered spot on a rock a distance along the path.





With my blessings,



“The basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.”

~  Thich Nhat Hanh