Right Action

 What is Right Action?

Right action is a step on the Noble Eightfold path. In Buddhism, the eightfold path is meant as a guideline, to be considered, to be contemplated, and to be taken on when, and only when each step is fully accepted as part of the life you seek. Buddhism never asks for blind faith, it seeks to promote learning and a process of self-discovery.

So then what is Right Action? Right Action can be broken down into really three aspects.

1st Aspect of Right action is not take a life of another living animal. Generally it means not killing other people, other types of animals or insects.  The buddha did not approve of pulling up plants for no reason but eating plants was not considered a wrong action.

2nd Aspect of right action is to abstain from stealing. Both of these are generally found in most ethical structures around most societies. It includes aspects of being honest and being ethical, so not just stealing money from someone. Some forms of livelihood will include this type of action. So we wound want to be sure that this right action would link directly to right livelihood. Stealing is taking that which is not ours.

3nd Aspect of right action is to obtain for sexual misconduct. Monastics would abstain completely but layperson would not have sex in ways that are harmful or dangerous to other people. There is no other restrictions against sexual contact such as homosexual sex.  We should limit our sexual action to those who are able to consent.  There is no context related to marriage either. So our goal in this action is that if we chose to have sex, we are all consenting and working within a space right intention.

So how does Right Action fit in with the Five Virtues of Hekate?

While I do not see that Right Action fits into a single virtue, I do see that it actually encompasses all of them.  When we look at them:

  • Compassion
  • Courage
  • Temperance 
  • Justice
  • Wisdom 
We can see that each of them contain action.  We cannot practice Compassion without right action. We cannot have courage or temperance without following the right actions that get us there. So while the first two we covered directly mapped to a single spoke on the Nobel Eightfold Path, this part, Right Action - relates to ALL five of the virtues. 

What do you think about this connection? Do you see it or do you have another view? Feel free to share in the comments or reach out to me directly via the chat module installed on this page.

I look forward to your comments.

Rev. Renee Sosanna Olson
Keybearer to the Covenant of Hekate
Founder of the Sanctuary of Hecate Brimo



Full content of the five virtues from the COH Website:

– Sympathy and/or concern for others who are suffering or find themselves in an undesirable position. A person attempting to develop the virtue of Compassion within their daily life and practice would desire to aid in the alleviation of any undesirable situation or at the very least not be a contributing factor towards it.

Real Life Example – You could try to help the homeless or less fortunate be they of the two or four legged variety. Volunteering at local shelters or organizing food drives are great ways to learn and show compassion.

– Strength or character or fortitude to stand firm in your convictions and face adversity or distress without fear. A person attempting to develop the virtue of Courage within their daily life and practice may chose to stand firm against those who would chose to undermine their beliefs or convictions or to speak out against those who hurt and undermine others.

Real Life Example – Try standing up for someone you or your friendship group may deem unpopular. Also when someone shows remorse for a wrongdoing some people will continue to be angry and unforgiving. Instead state your position calmly (in itself an act of courage) and then allow the situation to pass.

– Moderation and self-control are both acts of Temperance. A person attempting to develop the virtue of Temperance within their daily life and practice may chose to restrict some part of their life be that thought or action in an attempt to find a balance rather than choosing to allow extremes.

Real Life Example – Try abstaining from certain types of food or drink or showing restraint in discussions online. An example would be to learn to hold one’s tongue and listen a bit more before jumping into an argument.

– Moral and physical rightness are both aspects of Justice, as is the sometimes contradictory act of behaving fairly towards other people. A person attempting to develop the virtue of Justice within their daily life would strive to act fairly, truthfully and with personal integrity when dealing with others and themselves.

Real Life Example – Try to treat others fairly, in action and tone be it online or in person. Try to not pass judgement on another based upon your own feelings for a person, your understanding of the situation or hearsay. There are often two (or more) sides to a story and the truth lies somewhere between. If the truth cannot be ascertained then try being impartial.

– To have the common sense, foresight and understanding to think or act in a manner most objectively and beneficially to any given situation. A person attempting to develop the virtue of Wisdom within their daily life would strive to apply their knowledge and experiences in a prudent and practical way.

Real Life Example – Try volunteering to share on a topic that you are knowledgeable on with a local group or center. Offer to do a guest blog post or write an article for an eZine on a particular subject.

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