Below you will find an essay- a podcast-and a video all exploring this beautiful path.
The eight parts of the path to liberation are grouped into three essential elements of Buddhist practice—moral conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom. The Buddha taught the eightfold path in virtually all his discourses, and his directions are as clear and practical to his followers today as they were when he first gave them, 2,500 years ago.
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Practically the whole teaching of the Buddha, to which he devoted himself during 45 years, deals in some way or other with this path. He explained it in different ways and in different words to different people, according to the stage of their development and their capacity to understand and follow him. But the essence of those many thousand discourses scattered in the Buddhist scriptures is found in the noble eightfold path.
It should not be thought that the eight categories or divisions of the path should be followed and practiced one after the other in the numerical order as given in the usual list above. But they are to be developed more or less simultaneously, as far as possible according to the capacity of each individual. They are all linked together and each helps the cultivation of the others.
Ethical conduct (sila) is built on the vast conception of universal love and compassion for all living beings, on which the Buddha’s teaching is based. It is regrettable that many scholars forget this great ideal of the Buddha’s teaching, and indulge in only dry philosophical and metaphysical divagations when they talk and write about Buddhism. The Buddha gave his teaching “for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world.” Now, in ethical conduct (sila), based on love and compassion, are included three factors of the noble eightfold path: namely, right speech, right action, and right livelihood.
1) RIGHT SPEECH
Right speech means abstention (1) from telling lies, (2) from backbiting and slander and talk that may bring about hatred, enmity, disunity, and disharmony among individuals or groups of people, (3) from harsh, rude, impolite, malicious, and abusive language, and (4) from idle, useless, and foolish babble and gossip. When one abstains from these forms of wrong and harmful speech one naturally has to speak the truth, has to use words that are friendly and benevolent, pleasant and gentle, meaningful, and useful. One should not speak carelessly: speech should be at the right time and place. If one cannot say something useful, one should keep “noble silence.”
2) RIGHT ACTION
Right action aims at promoting moral, honorable, and peaceful conduct. It admonishes us that we should abstain from destroying life, from stealing, from dishonest dealings, from illegitimate sexual intercourse, and that we should also help others to lead a peaceful and honorable life in the right way.
3) RIGHT LIVELIHOOD
Right livelihood means that one should abstain from making one’s living through a profession that brings harm to others, such as trading in arms and lethal weapons, intoxicating drinks or poisons, killing animals, cheating, etc., and should live by a profession which is honorable, blameless, and innocent of harm to others. One can clearly see here that Buddhism is strongly opposed to any kind of war, when it lays down that trade in arms and lethal weapons is an evil and unjust means of livelihood.
These three factors (right speech, right action, and right livelihood) of the eightfold path constitute ethical conduct. It should be realized that the Buddhist ethical and moral conduct aims at promoting a happy and harmonious life both for the individual and for society. This moral conduct is considered as the indispensable foundation for all higher spiritual attainments. No spiritual development is possible without this moral basis.
(MENTAL DISCIPLINE) Next comes mental discipline, in which are included three other factors of the eightfold path: namely, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration. (Nos. 6, 7 and 8 in the list).
4) RIGHT EFFORT
Right effort is the energetic will (1) to prevent evil and unwholesome states of mind from arising, and (2) to get rid of such evil and unwholesome states that have already arisen within a man, and also (3) to produce, to cause to arise, good, and wholesome states of mind not yet arisen, and (4) to develop and bring to perfection the good and wholesome states of mind already present in a man.
5) RIGHT MINDFULNESS
Right mindfulness is to be diligently aware, mindful, and attentive with regard to (1) the activities of the body (kaya), (2) sensations or feelings (vedana), (3) the activities of the mind (citta) and (4) ideas, thoughts, conceptions, and things (dhamma).
The practice of concentration on breathing (anapanasati) is one of the well-known exercises, connected with the body, for mental development. There are several other ways of developing attentiveness in relation to the body as modes of meditation.
With regard to sensations and feelings, one should be clearly aware of all forms of feelings and sensations, pleasant, unpleasant and neutral, of how they appear and disappear within oneself. Concerning the activities of mind, one should be aware whether one’s mind is lustful or not, given to hatred or not, deluded or not, distracted or concentrated, etc. In this way one should be aware of all movements of mind, how they arise and disappear.
As regards ideas, thoughts, conceptions and things, one should know their nature, how they appear and disappear, how they are developed, how they are suppressed, destroyed, and so on.These four forms of mental culture or meditation are treated in detail in the Satipatthana Sutta (Setting-up of Mindfulness).
6) RIGHT CONCENTRATION
The third and last factor of mental discipline is right concentration, leading to the four stages of Dhyana, generally called trance or recueillement. In the first stage of Dhyana, passionate desires and certain unwholesome thoughts like sensuous lust, ill-will, languor, worry, restlessness, and skeptical doubt are discarded, and feelings of joy and happiness are maintained, along with certain mental activities. Then, in the second stage, all intellectual activities are suppressed, tranquillity, and “one-pointedness” of mind developed, and the feelings of joy and happiness are still retained. In the third stage, the feeling of joy, which is an active sensation, also disappears, while the disposition of happiness still remains in addition to mindful equanimity. Finally, in the fourth stage of Dhyana, all sensations, even of happiness and unhappiness, of joy and sorrow, disappear, only pure equanimity and awareness remaining.
Thus the mind is trained and disciplined and developed through right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
WISDOM The remaining two factors, namely right thought and right understanding, constitute wisdom in the noble eightfold path.
7) RIGHT THOUGHT
Right thought denotes the thoughts of selfless renunciation or detachment, thoughts of love and thoughts of non-violence, which are extended to all beings. It is very interesting and important to note here that thoughts of selfless detachment, love and non-violence are grouped on the side of wisdom. This clearly shows that true wisdom is endowed with these noble qualities, and that all thoughts of selfish desire, ill-will, hatred, and violence are the result of a lack of wisdom in all spheres of life whether individual, social, or political.
8) RIGHT UNDERSTANDING
Right understanding is the understanding of things as they are, and it is the four noble truths that explain things as they really are. Right understanding therefore is ultimately reduced to the understanding of the four noble truths. This understanding is the highest wisdom which sees the Ultimate Reality. According to Buddhism there are two sorts of understanding. What we generally call “understanding” is knowledge, an accumulated memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. This is called “knowing accordingly” (anubodha). It is not very deep. Real deep understanding or “penetration” (pativedha) is seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and label. This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation.
The Eight Fold Path with Jack Kornfield
Listen in the below link
“In the ever-changing circumstance of the world – those outer circumstances are not what makes you happy. They will for a while, there is a certain kind of pleasure there, but the deepest happiness doesn’t come from outer circumstances. If we cling to greed, fear and hatred then suffering arises, but there is a way to liberate ourselves.”
The Middle Way (8:20) – We look at the lessons learned by the Buddha around navigating life’s extremes. What is the benefit of taking the Middle Path in all things and how can it break us out of our conditioning?
“It is called the Middle Path because what the Buddha discovered was that he had lived this life of pleasure, but somehow that was not satisfying to his heart as he grew older. Then he tried the opposite by becoming a yogi and trying to run away from the world and reject life, which was also not satisfying.”The Eight Dimensions of Awakened Living (15:00) – The Eightfold Path is not a linear path from point A to point B. We explore the multi-dimensioned nature of the Eightfold Path and how each step relates to our incarnation.
“My teacher, Ajhan Cha, said that the real Eightfold path is two eyes, two nostrils, two ears, a mouth, a tongue and a body. It is the actual life you live, this is the Eightfold Path. As you sit and as you walk, you are the Eightfold Path.”
The Eight Fold Path
The heart of the Buddhist teachings can be found in practicing the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a guide for us to follow if we want to walk the path of awakening and enlightenment. It consists of eight trainings that can be summarized into three parts: the training of wisdom, morality and meditation. It is a holistic practice in that all the eight trainings are interrelated and each is as important as the other. The Noble Eightfold Path involves the practice of Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
(Mindah-Lee Kumar-The Enthusiastic Buddhist)