The noble eight-fold path

Suffering is inevitable to all living creatures. In Buddhism this is the first truth of the four noble truths. The understanding that suffering is inevitable is the first step towards the end of suffering. The other three noble truths are the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. Within the fourth noble truth we found the guide to the end of suffering and that is called the noble eight-fold path.

The noble eight-fold path is the practice that liberates us from the suffering of Samsara. The noble eight-fold path is the english translation of pali word “ariya aṭṭhaṅgika magga”. In pali ariya means enlightened or noble, aṭṭhaṅgika means eight-fold and magga means the way or the path. In other words we can say that these are the paths that an enlightened or a noble person follows.

Following are the elements of the noble eight-fold path. Every element of the paths begins with the pali word sammā which english meaning is right.


Noble Eight-Fold Path
  1. Right View (Samma Ditthi)

  2. Right Thought (Samma Sankappa)

  3. Right Speech (Samma Vaca)

  4. Right Action (Samma Kammanta)

  5. Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva)

  6. Right Effort (Samma Vayama)

  7. Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati)

  8. Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi)

1. Right View (Samma ditthi): We all know that the four noble truths are the base of all Buddha’s teachings. Right view is the clear understanding of these four noble truths. It encompasses the three facts of every living being- Anicca (Pali for “Impermanence”), Anatta (Pali for “Non-Self” or “Non-Egoness”) and Dukkha (Pali for “Suffering and Dissatisfaction”). To cure something we must know the disease and this is what the Right View is all about. The four noble truths (the disease) and the eight-fold paths (the cure). Right View is the first step in this journey.

2. Right thought (Samma sankappa): Experts estimate that the mind thinks between 60,000 – 80,000 thoughts a day. We often convert these thoughts into action on the basis of our base desire. Most of the time we forget that we, the humans, are the volitional creatures. We effortlessly take the easy and accustomed root to guide our thoughts and actions which require a very little consciousness. Right thought is the commitment of to be more and more conscious about what we think and the way we choose to think and act. Right thought comprises of three aspect:

  • Renunciation (Nekkhamma): By renunciation we are determined to resist our desire and earthly pleasure.

  • Good will (Metta): Good will means showing love and kindness to every living being including yourself. We have to avoid indulging ourselves in hatred, anger and all other negative emotions.

  • Harmlessness (Avihinsa): Harmlessness is the state where we must avoid cruelty and we become compassionate.

3. Right speech (Samma vaca): We all know that words are very powerful. It can upraise you or it can demote you. Verbal expression has an intense impact on our thoughts too. So right speech means resist the temptation to lies, slander or other spiteful languages and any frivolous talks. We must keep in mind that a disrespectful speech first degarde the speaker and then hurt the listener. So an enlightened person keep himself aloof of the speech that spread hatred.

4. Right action (Samma kammanta): Our action must accompany our right thought and right speech. We are aware that most of the time our action is determined by our thoughts. So if we grab the right thought there are possibilities that our actions too will direct to the right way. Right action encompasses keeping ourselves steer clear of killing, stealing and sexual misconduct.

5. Right livelihood (Samma ajiva): Livelihood is the way we live our lives. Right livelihood means leading our lives in the way where no one will ever hurt. So we should obviate from any kind of sustenance that is opposite of right thinking, right speech or right action.

6. Right effort (Samma vayama): Now we know what we should do to walk on the noble eight-fold path. It is time to execute them. Right effort is the timely used energy you spend to walk on the path. Some people are inclined to put effort they need to exert and result them no return to their enterprise. Right effort is the attitude you should develop in your life and never stop until you reach your goal. To practice right effort you have to direct your mental energy to discipline, truthfulness and compassion. Practicing you should avoid the subversive state of mind which is deleterious and will always peregrinate us.

7. Right mindfulness (Samma sati): Mindfulness is the practice that makes us conscious about our consciousness. Right mindfulness is the purifier of our mind and installs the mechanism to see the world clearly. We judge every sense because of our mind’s conclusive nature. It happens most of the time unconsciously and automatically and most of the time ends-up with suffering or stress or needless concentration. Mindfulness helps us to become conscious about how our mind interprets or judges our experience of the world. Mindfulness also allows us to look at the world or experience the world as what it is without wishing it to be otherwise. Cultivating right mindfulness we become aware of awareness.

8. Right concentration (Samma samadhi): Right concentration is the development of our mind characteristic about looking at a single thing with full attention for an extended period of time. Cultivating right concentration, we will be able to eliminate our mind’s distracting and conflicting behaviour. We can develop right concentration by practicing right mindfulness everyday.

As human beings we all have our own journey and we all have to walk a long way to complete our journey. During the journey sometimes we feel so stressed, so suffered that we even want to end the journey. But we must believe that this is not true. Most of the time sufferings and stress are our own creation. Sometimes we need to look at our inner-self, concentrate on what the best we can do and let it be. Because of the impermanence nature of everything, everything will fade away and we will again be happy to start our own journey. Let’s walk on the noble eight-fold path. Let’s complete our journey.

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