SUMMARY OF THE EIGHTFOLD NOBLE PATH

RIGHT VIEW

Wrong View is basically of two kinds; eternity view and annihilation view.

Eternity View sees the existence of an indestructible essence in phenomena; in particular this manifests as belief in an eternal personal Self or soul.
Annihilation View denies the reality of a spiritual life, the laws of karma and that which is transcendent of mundane reality. It always contains an unspoken assumption that there does exist a personal self of some sort which is annihilated at death.

Right View is seeing things clearly; it is the Middle Path between the two wrong views. Right View means seeing the nature of all mundane reality as being marked with the three characteristics of suffering, impermanence and not-self.

RIGHT THOUGHT (or Intention)

Wrong Thoughts are thoughts of greed (and lust etc.), cruelty and ill-will (and anger etc.)

Right Thoughts are thoughts of renunciation (and/or contentment), compassion and loving-kindness,

The Buddha gave us a fivefold method of controlling the mind;

  1. replace the unwholesome with a wholesome thought i.e. loving-kindness to drive out ill-will, loathsomeness of the body to drive out lust etc.
  2. contemplation of the negative results of following that line of thought
  3. (non-attention to that; do not take as an object)
  4. (switch to tranquillity work to calm the formations)
  5. use gross effort to suppress the thought; beat down mind with mind.

Note: nos. 3 & 4 refer specifically to thoughts occurring during insight meditation; the others may be used at any time. The steps should be tried in this order and #5 in particular is a last resort.

RIGHT SPEECH

Wrong Speech is speech that is untruthful, harsh (hurtful), slanderous (eg. gossip etc.) or trivial.
Right Speech is that connected with the truth, that which is gentle, that which makes peace and that connected with meaning.

RIGHT (Bodily) ACTION

Wrong Actions are actions of killing and harming, theft and sexual misconduct (eg. adultery)
Right Actions are their opposites; actions of healing & helping, actions of generosity and actions of sensual restraint (or loving conduct in the context of a wholesome relationship.)

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD

Wrong Livelihood is any way of making a living that causes suffering to others. The Buddha listed five trades as particularly unwholesome; dealing in animals for slaughter, human slaves, poisons, weapons and intoxicants.
Right Livelihood is any profession or trade that does not cause suffering and is conducted honestly and to the best of one's ability.

RIGHT EFFORT

This includes all aspects of diligence, wakefulness and perseverance etc. but the Buddha put special emphasis on the Four Right Efforts. If these are practiced fully, then all other aspects will occur naturally;

the Four Right Efforts are

  1. the effort to prevent the arising of unwholesome states which have not yet arisen
  2. the effort to bring to cessation unwholesome states which have already arisen
  3. the effort to bring forward wholesome states which have not yet arisen
  4. the effort to develop further wholesome states which have already arisen.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS

Right Mindfulness refers to the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as described in the Satipatthana Sutta. The Practice of Insight Meditation is based upon these;

  1. Mindfulness of the Body
  2. Mindfulness of the Feelings
  3. Mindfulness of the State of Consciousness
  4. Mindfulness of the Contents of Mind (Dhammas)

RIGHT CONCENTRATION

Right Concentration Refers to the Four Jhanas and concentration tending towards those states

  1. Quite secluded from sense desires, secluded from unprofitable things one enters upon and dwells in the first jhana which is accompanied by applied and sustained thought with happiness and bliss born of seclusion.
  2. With the stilling of applied and sustained thought one enters upon and dwells in the second jhana which has internal confidence and singleness of mind with happiness and bliss born of concentration.
  3. With the fading away of happiness as well one dwells in equanimity, and mindful and fully aware one feels bliss with the body, one enters upon and dwells in the third jhana on account of which the Noble Ones announce "He dwells in bliss who has equanimity and is mindful. "
  4. With the abandoning of pleasure and pain and with the previous disappearance of joy and grief one enters upon and dwells in the fourth jhana which has neither-pain-nor-pleasure and has purity of mindfulness due to equanimity.

There is such a thing as Wrong Concentration; eg. a hunter sighting down the barrel of his rifle must concentrate to kill the deer.

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