Introduction to the Noble Eightfold Path
The fourth noble truth is the truth of the path to the end of suffering. This path to peace, liberation & enlightenment can be explained in terms of the Noble Eightfold Path: the practice of correct action, speech, livelihood, mindfulness, concentration, effort, view, & thought.
These can be organized into the three higher trainings:
- Ethical conduct
- Correct action
- Correct speech
- Correct livelihood
- Concentration or meditative stabilization
- Correct mindfulness
- Correct concentration
- Correct effort
- Correct view
- Correct thought
The Eight Elements of the Eightfold Path
How are these elements defined?
- Correct view means to have a correct view of the Four Noble Truths, thus letting go any notion of our dukha (suffering) being caused by external factors, chance/fate, other people, etc.
- Correct intention is the intention of nonharmfulness, the intention of renunciation (giving up clinging & attachment), and the intention of benevolence (having love & compassion with altruistic intention).
- Correct livelihood refers to how we get our requisite food, shelter, etc. Do we get it in an honest way, not through cheating or stealing, or in a way that harms others?
- Correct action means not harming others, not stealing from them, not engaging in unwise or unkind sexual expression, etc.
- Correct speech means abandoning lying, using speech to create disharmony, harsh words, idle talk and instead, cultivating truth in speech, speaking when appropriate, kindness, using speech to reconcile others.
- Correct effort means putting our effort into practicing the path.
- Correct mindfulness means being aware of our body, our feelings (pleasant, unpleasant, neutral), our mind (different levels & states of mind), and all phenomena, thus developing a wisdom that understands how all these things operate.
- Correct concentration means developing the ability of single-pointed concentration to remain focused on the objects of our wisdom so that we can break through the ignorance, the afflictions, & karma that bind us.