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
  • Wisdom
    • 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.