The Eightfold Path
The guide to the end of all suffering: the noble eightfold path.
The eight parts of the path to liberation are grouped into three essential elements of Buddhist practice:
Insight & wisdom.
The path has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years and remains contemporary for today’s lives.
THE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Right speech means abstention from telling lies.
Regain from gossip and slander and talk that may bring about hatred, enmity, disunity, and disharmony among individuals or a group or community.
Never use harsh, rude, impolite, malicious, and abusive language.
And also consider the effect of your words and their impact.
Aim for moral, honorable, and peaceful behaviour. We should abstain from destroying life, from stealing, from dishonest dealings, from illegitimate sexual intercourse, and that we should also help others to lead a peaceful and honorable life in the right way. If it is right, act. Right Inaction is also possibly a right action when considered appropriate.
Right livelihood means that one should abstain from making one’s living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as trading in arms and lethal weapons, intoxicating drinks or poisons, killing animals, cheating, etc., and should live by a profession which is honorable, blameless, and innocent of harm to others.
Right effort is the energetic will to prevent negative and unwholesome states of mind from arising, and to get rid of such negativity and unwholesome states that have already arisen within a person. And to apply this positive state of mind.
Right mindfulness is to be diligently aware, mindful, and attentive with regard to the activities of the body (kaya), sensations or feelings (vedana), the activities of the mind (citta) and ideas, thoughts, conceptions, and things around you.(dhamma).
The practice of concentration on breathing (anapanasati) is one of the well-known exercises, connected with the body, for mental development. There are several other ways of developing attentiveness in relation to the body as modes of meditation.
With regard to sensations and feelings, one should be clearly aware of all forms of feelings and sensations, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, of how they appear and disappear within oneself. Concerning the activities of mind, one should be aware whether one’s mind is lustful or not, given to hatred or not, deluded or not, distracted or concentrated, etc. In this way one should be aware of all movements of mind, how they arise and disappear.
As regards ideas, thoughts, conceptions and things, one should know their nature, how they appear and disappear, how they are developed, how they are suppressed, destroyed, and so on.
These four forms of mental culture or meditation are treated in detail in the Satipatthana Sutta (Setting-up of Mindfulness).
The third and last factor of mental discipline is right concentration, leading to the four stages of Dhyana, generally called trance or recueillement. In the first stage of Dhyana, passionate desires and certain unwholesome thoughts like sensuous lust, ill-will, languor, worry, restlessness, and skeptical doubt are discarded, and feelings of joy and happiness are maintained, along with certain mental activities. Then, in the second stage, all intellectual activities are suppressed, tranquillity, and “one-pointedness” of mind developed, and the feelings of joy and happiness are still retained. In the third stage, the feeling of joy, which is an active sensation, also disappears, while the disposition of happiness still remains in addition to mindful equanimity. Finally, in the fourth stage of Dhyana, all sensations, even of happiness and unhappiness, of joy and sorrow, disappear, only pure equanimity and awareness remaining.
Thus the mind is trained and disciplined and developed through right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Right thought denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love and thoughts of non-violence, which are extended to all beings. It is very interesting and important to note here that thoughts of selfless detachment, love and non-violence are grouped on the side of wisdom. This clearly shows that true wisdom is endowed with these noble qualities, and that all thoughts of selfish desire, ill-will, hatred, and violence are the result of a lack of wisdom in all spheres of life whether individual, social, or political.
Right understanding is the understanding of things as they are, and it is the four noble truths that explain things as they really are. Right understanding therefore is ultimately reduced to the understanding of the four noble truths. This understanding is the highest wisdom which sees the Ultimate Reality. According to Buddhism there are two sorts of understanding. What we generally call “understanding” is knowledge, an accumulated memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. This is called “knowing accordingly” (anubodha). It is not very deep. Real deep understanding or “penetration” (pativedha) is seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and label. This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation.
From this brief account of the noble eightfold path, one may see that it is a way of life to be followed, practiced and developed by each individual. It is self-discipline in body, word, and mind, self-development, and self-purification. It has nothing to do with belief, prayer, worship, or ceremony. In that sense, it has nothing which may popularly be called “religious.” It is a Path leading to the realization of Ultimate Reality, to complete freedom, happiness, and peace through moral, spiritual, and intellectual perfection.