Lesson 7 The Timeless Truth (Part 2) – Noble Eightfold Path
The Fourth Noble Truth: The Fourth Noble Truth is also known as the Noble Eightfold Path or the Middle Path. It avoids the extreme of sensual pleasure and self-mortification, eternalism and nilism, optimism and pessimism. The Path Leading to the End of Dukkha It is a planned course of inward culture and progress and is not practised out of any fear of the supernatural. It is practised when one is convinced of the intrinsic value as a way of life.
Noble Eightfold Path The Path is a means and never an end. It brings about dispassion and detachment by the gradual elimination of the desire for sensual pleasure. It leads to the development of compassion and the cultivation of a selfless love for all that lives. The Path leads from selfishness to altruism, from the unreal to the Real.
The eight divisions can be grouped into 3 groups as follows: Right S peech Right A ction Right L ivelihood Sila (morality) Right E ffort Right M indfulness Right C oncentration Samadhi (concentration) Right U nderstanding Right T hought Panna (wisdom) Wisdom Concentration Noble Eightfold Path Morality
SILA (Morality) The first group of the Noble Eightfold Path deals with morality. Three factors: Right S peech Right A ction Right L ivelihood
SILA (Morality) Sila is based on love and compassion for all beings. Both qualities, compassion and wisdom should be developed equally for a man to become perfect. Compassion Love, charity, kindness, tolerance and such noble qualities of the heart. Wisdom Ability to penetrate into the real nature of things and understand things without being clouded with delusion.
SILA (Morality) Right Speech (Samma Vaca) Perfect Speech or Right Speech is one that is truthful, affectionate, helpful, and which promotes concord, harmony, and unity. It reflects inner wisdom, clear vision, and Buddha-nature and represents the Ideal of Human Communication. Imperfect Speech or Wrong Speech is untruthful, harsh, harmful, and which promotes discord, disharmony and disunity.
Speak the Truth, Tell No Lies SILA - Right Speech Words spoken without guile, conflict or hidden agendas. Factual truthfulness is important, but truthfulness is also psychological and spiritual. Besides factual accuracy, speaking the truth involves an attitude of honesty and sincerity. It means that we are honest with ourselves. Honest communication and mutual understanding is the essence of good relationships
SILA (Morality) Right Action (Samma Kammanta) Two aspects: What we do and what we refrain from doing . Right action aims at promoting moral, honourable and peaceful conduct. One should refrain from: Destroying life Stealing Dishonest dealings Illegitimate sexual misconduct Taking intoxicants Right action means to perform deeds which do not cause suffering to oneself and others.
SILA (Morality) Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva) Avoid occupations/trades which cause suffering to oneself and others. One should refrain from trade dealing in: Arms/lethal weapons Intoxicating drinks Poisons Killing animals Cheating Human beings Guiding principle is to work for the happiness of oneself and others.
Two Requirements of Right Livelihood Provide the necessities of life—food, clothing, shelter, medicine and education. The work must be ethically wholesome. Many types of work provide an adequate or even excellent income, but involve dishonesty, exploitation or cruelty. Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva)
SILA (Morality) - Summary Right Speech (Samma Vaca) Right Action (Samma Kammanta) Right Livelihood (Samma Ajiva) The Buddhist ethical and moral conduct aims at promoting harmony and happiness for the life of the individual and society. Morality also forms the indispensable foundation for all higher spiritual attainments.
Samadhi (Mental Discipline) The second group of the Noble Eightfold Path deals with the human mind. Samadhi means mental discipline or mental culture . Three factors: Right E ffort Right M indfulness Right C oncentration
SAMADHI (Mental Discipline) Right Effort (Samma Vayama) Endeavour to live a moral and blameless life. The 4 Right Efforts are: Effort to overcome evil that has already arisen. Effort to avoid evil that has not yet arisen. Effort to develop good not yet arisen. Effort to promote the good that has already arisen. Right Effort plays a very important part in developing wisdom through cultivation of virtue and mental discipline.
SAMADHI (Mental Discipline) Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati) Right Mindfulness is to be diligently attentive of what happens to us and in us . It is to be mindful of our thoughts, speech and actions. With mindfulness, we are less inclined to be thoughtless and careless. We establish harmony and peace by cultivating the alertness of the mind and awareness of conduct.
SAMADHI (Mental Discipline) The most important Sutta on the development of mindfulness is the Satipatthana Sutta. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness are awareness of: The activities of the body. Sensations or feelings. The activities of the mind. Ideas, thoughts, conceptions and things. Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati) The Buddha told us to observe the subjects mindfully with a view to see things as they really are without the relative concepts of “I”, “mine”, “he”, “she”.
SAMADHI (Mental Discipline) For example, when anger arises, don’t think “I’m angry”, as if the anger belongs to us. Right Mindfulness (Samma Sati) Be aware of the arising of anger and the state of an angry mind, and realise that it is both impermanent and devoid of self. By doing so, the anger loses its compelling power and quickly subsides. This is the technique of nipping anxiety and other negative thoughts and cultivate positive feelings such as love, compassion, mental purity, equanimity and happiness.
SAMADHI (Mental Discipline) Concentration to the point of clear insight is the peak of Buddhist endeavour and sets Buddhism apart from other teachings. Right Concentration (Samma Samadhi) Meditation is not, as some people think, reflecting upon, thinking about a subject and pondering. It is observing with alertness and keeping the attention on the subject without wavering of the mind.
PANNA (Wisdom) The third group of the Noble Eightfold Path deals with wisdom. Two factors: Right U nderstanding Right T hought
PANNA (Wisdom) Right Understanding (Samma Ditthi) What needs to be understood? People differ in their realisation and understanding of universal phenomena. Correspondingly, their practice of the Dhamma differ. But as a person gains more and more insight, he develops an unshakeable confidence in the Buddha Dhamma, when he realises for himself how true the words of the Buddha are.
PANNA (Wisdom) What needs to be understood? Understanding the universal truths of the Four Noble Truths (Dukkha; Arising of Dukkha, the End of Dukkha; Path leading to the end of Dukkha) Realisation that we are the owner of our Kamma, the intentional actions by body, speech and thought. Understanding of the three characteristics of life that govern everything that exists: Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. Right Understanding (Samma Ditthi)
PANNA (Wisdom) Our understanding of things can be viewed at two levels: Intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. We learn this from reading, discussing and listening. A deeper and more profound level is penetration into the very nature of things. This is experienced and realised from the very depth of our being that makes us resolve to do or to avoid doing certain things.
PANNA (Wisdom) Right Thought (Samma Samkappa) Why Right Thought? Eliminating evil thoughts. Developing pure thoughts. Dhammapada Verse 1 states: “ Mind preceds all mental states Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts, suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.”
PANNA (Wisdom) Right Thought (Samma Samkappa) Right Thought constists of: <ul><li>Nekkhama – renunciation of world pleasures or selfishness, which is opposed to attachment, selfishness and self-possessiveness. </li></ul><ul><li>Avyapada – loving-kindness, goodwill, or benevolence, which is opposed to hatred, ill-will or aversion. </li></ul><ul><li>Avihimsa – harmlessness or compassion, which is opposed to cruelty and coldness of heart. </li></ul>
PANNA (Wisdom) Right Thought (Samma Samkappa) Good and evil forces are latent in all of us. The evil forces will rise to the surface at unexpected moments. Greed and hatred, coupled with ignorance, are the chief causes of all evil. The Dhammapada Verse 251 states: “ There is no fire like lust, no grip like hate, There is no net like delusion, no river like craving.”
Right Understanding Right Thought Right Speech Right Action Right Livelihood Right Effort Right Mindfulness Right Concentration In the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha has provided us with a map of the road leading to Nibbana. This is the only path to get out of Samsara. Practise the Path diligently. Sadhu!! Sadhu!! Sadhu!!
The gift of Dhamma excels all gifts the taste of Dhamma excels all taste, the delight in dhamma excels all delights, The Craving-Freed vanquishes all suffering. - Dhammapada verse 354 End of Lesson 7