Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 2: The Eightfold Path

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 3, The Eightfold Path
  • Newsprint, markers, and tape
  • Long strip from a roll of drawing paper, or several pieces of poster board
  • Art supplies, such as poster paint, paint brushes, markers, or pastel crayons
  • Newspapers or drop cloths to cover work surfaces
  • Rags and spray bottles for clean-up

Preparation for Activity

  • Review the material in Leader Resource 3, The Eightfold Path, so you will be comfortable presenting it.
  • Write the eight elements of the Eightfold Path on newsprint, and set aside.
  • Identify work space for participants. Protect the work surfaces with newspaper or drop cloths. Get art materials ready to set out for youth to share.
  • Be prepared to help the youth stay focused during their brainstorming, as freeform creative projects can easily go off track.

Description of Activity

Youth create an art project to illustrate and help them remember the elements of the Eightfold Path.

Say, in these words or your own:

The story "The Life of Buddha" mentions two learnings that are foundational to an understanding of Buddhism-two tools to help you reach enlightenment. One is the Four Noble Truths. Do you remember the name of the other one?

Pause for the youth to answer. Say:

The Eightfold Path was mentioned in the story as a way the Buddha saw to attain enlightenment. It enumerates eight aspects of life that a person should pay attention to in order to advance in spiritual growth toward enlightenment.

Display the prepared newsprint. Say:

The eight aspects of the Eightfold Path are:

Right Knowledge

Right Aspiration

Right Speech

Right Behavior

Right Livelihood

Right Effort

Right Mindfulness

Right Absorption

Interestingly, there is another that is not listed-one so important it is treated as a presupposition, something you are supposed to do before you are even ready to start. It is called Right Association.

Right Association means surrounding yourself with people who are healthy and supportive of your spiritual work, preferably those who are also on a spiritual path. According to Buddhist teaching, you do not have to be around people, but if you are going to be with people, you should choose your companions wisely.

In our faith tradition, Right Association is important, too. This is a good reason to seek out a congregation and go to it as regularly as you can. When you attend regularly and start to become part of the congregation, you are engaging in Right Association by making the effort to spend time with people who are good for you and who nurture your spiritual growth.

Review the meaning of each aspect of the Eightfold Path, referring to Leader Resource 3, The Eightfold Path, as needed.

Tell participants, in these words or your own:

Trying to achieve consistency throughout a person's life is very important to Buddhism. But how are you supposed to remember all eight things, so you can remember to practice them? One way is by creating a visual reminder.

First, we are going to brainstorm some fun and creative visual ways to remember the eight elements of the Eightfold Path. For example, you might use images, or do something with the first letter of each element. You can then illustrate your ideas on newsprint.

Post newsprint. Take notes as the youth brainstorm.

Once youth choose ideas to commit to paper, have them create their artwork.

Help them display the completed artwork in the room, someplace prominent. If possible, arrange for the artwork to remain displayed for a week, or longer.

If a guest will be coming to talk about Buddhism, ask participants' permission now to show the guest their artwork.

Save time for a group clean-up.

Including All Participants

Choose work surfaces that will be accessible to everyone. Participants with sensory issues or OCD may have trouble with paint spills or other messes, so be sure to have plenty of clean-up materials on hand.