Basic Buddhist Teachings – IV
The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path enables us to overcome our “I”, feel greater harmony with the world around us and eventually eliminate the pain we often experience. In this path, the Wheel, symbol of Dhamma, is presented with eight rays depicting the following eight principles:
- Right View
- Right Thought
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Awareness
- Right Concentration
Right View is the first and most important step on the path because we must first understand the truth of the Four Noble Truths in order to begin our journey.
Right Thought follows immediately. “Right” in this case means “according to the facts”. In other words, it suggests that we see things as they are and not as we would like them to be.
Right Speech, Action and Livelihood include moral barriers that prevent lying, stealing, committing violent acts, and making a living in a way that harms others. These moral barriers not only help to achieve general social harmony, but also help us to control and eliminate our sense of “I”.
Right Effort is important, because the “I” thrives on inaction and the wrong effort. Inactivity because if we do not try to practice them we cannot hope to achieve anything at any level in life and in the “wrong endeavor” because the greatest crimes have been committed by very active people. Therefore, the effort must be made and must be consistent with the teaching and with the effort to eliminate our “I”.
The last two steps of the path are the Right Awareness and the Right Concentration. These two stages represent the first step towards liberation from pain.
Being awake and aware at all times, is fundamental to a good life. This can be achieved in many ways, but in the West the formal practice is called “meditation” and is the way to achieve Right Awareness and Concentration.