Do The Next Right Thing"I
took a long, deep breath and wondered as usual, where to start. You
start where you are, is the secret of life. You do the next right thing
you can see. Then the next."
friend had been struggling, but she was doing better. When asked what
was working, she explained that she was taking the advice of her AA
sponsor who told her to use the AA saying, “When you don’t
know what to do, just do the next right thing.” Just do the next
right thing. What a lovely, simple guideline.
course knowing what the right thing is can be tricky, but this simple
imperative engages our wise mind. It starts a sorting process. The next
thing we do could be the thing that we want, but which will cause
suffering down the line, or it could be a wiser choice that won’t
carry that negative karmic load. We get to choose. And if we remember
that we must choose the Right Thing, we can’t do this mindlessly.
do the next right thing” brings us face to face with the choice
point. We are reminded to live more in the Now and live more ethically.
It’s not about doing the right thing tomorrow. It’s what is
next. At each moment, we have a choice. In the next moment, we act on
the choice. Then we have another choice. There is no not choosing.
There is only choosing consciously or unconsciously, ethically or
The Buddha’s great enlightenment resulted in The Eightfold Noble Path as the prescription for overcoming suffering. It boils down to do the next right thing. The eight elements of the path are
they are a reminder to cultivate wisdom, ethical conduct and mental
discipline. If we are going to be able to recognize the right thing to
do next, we need to advance our capacity to choose wisely by using our
thinking and perceiving faculties effectively. We need to take care in
the things we say and do. We need to choose a way of earning our living
and spending our time that is moral. We need to apply the force of our
will with clear intention. We must be awake. We need to grow our
capacity to hold our focus.
Noble Eightfold Path is less like a path we walk on than it is a way of
being. Living this way is a practice. But life is like a path we travel
on. As there are forks in a path, we find ourselves repeatedly needing
to choose. We choose one fork in the path over another. Sometimes we
may need a guide and sometimes we know which way to go based on
experience. Other times we may have to choose based on intuition and
our best guess. It is important though that we are clear on our
intention. What’s the next right thing?
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© 2008 Tom Barrett