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Buddhism Foundations: Buddhist Precepts|Four Noble Truths|Noble Eightfold Paths



The Noble Eightfold Path, the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths, is the way to the cessation of suffering (dukkha). It has eight sections, each starting with samyak (Sanskrit, meaning correctly, properly or well), and presented in three groups:

  • Prajna is the wisdom that purifies the mind to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
  1. Ditthi - Viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
  2. Sankappa - Intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
  • Sila is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
  1. Vaca - speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way
  2. Kammanta - acting in a non harmful way
  3. Ajiva - a non harmful livelihood
  • Samadhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one’s own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
  1. Vayama - making an effort to improve
  2. Sati - awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
  3. Samadhi - correct meditation or concentration
The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood in one of two ways. It either requires simultaneous development—all eight items are practiced in parallel, or it is conceived as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.
In the early sources (the four main Nikayas) the Eightfold Path is not generally taught to laypeople, and it is little known in the Far East.
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