Noble Eight Fold Path
The Noble 8-fold Path (Ariyo atthangiko maggo):
avoided all extremes, whether of Self Indulgence and Self Mortification;
of Eternity or Annihilation; of Complete Indeterminism (adhiccasamuppanna)
or Accidentalism and Strict Determinism (Niyati-vada) or Fatalism;
or of any other 'ism' that tends towards extremes. His Way of Life,
as he explained in his first sermon - is the Middle Path (majjhim
patipada) - is a teaching that has direct bearing on the lives
of mankind, a practical application, without bias, prejudice or emotion
- the active and practical aspect of the entire teaching of the Master.
It is not mere speculation, philosophizing and rationalizing, for
it entails engaging oneself in the real task of applying each and
every factor of the path to life; in coming to grips with the true
meaning of life, for the sole purpose of freedom from the taints that
haunt the human heart....
-Pg 88-89, the Buddha's ancient path, Thera Piyadassi
noble eight fold path is not a philosophy or a dogma or a mechanical
ritual. It is an art of living-a way of life-the path as shown by
the Buddha. It is actually living the teachings-'going into' the teachings.
The perfection of the noble path is insight or wisdom (samma ditthi).
The noble 8 fold path is divided into Sila (morality), samadhi (concentration)
and panna (wisdom/insight) but these are not rigid water tight compartments-they
flow into each other and help each other culminating in insight. Anyone
living a life of real wisdom/insight from moment to moment will be
a righteous and virtuous person naturally and effortlessly-for they
go hand in hand.
Lord Buddha talked about Sati (awareness) He said that awareness
and insight go hand in hand (atapi sampajano satima-Maha satipatthana
Sutta) The Buddha never instructed to develop mere concentration
or forced concentration of a narrow or unwholesome mind.
the 8 limbs of the 8 fold path have the prefix 'samma' which
is translated as 'Right' but it can be more accurately translated
as 'holistic'. For something to be holistic it has to be natural,
choiceless and wholesome - with the perfume of 'what is' - which is
insight. It cannot be a rigid mechanical system.
The noble 8 fold path is the 'pathless path' to truth-to reality-to liberation. It is 'The path' (ekayano maggo) because it shows the way to purification (visuddhimagga) but it is the 'pathless path' because it is not a beaten track or a mechanical ritual or a technique or a method. To walk on this path one has to be in touch with the reality 'as it is' (yathabhuta) and as the reality keeps changing (anicca or impermanence), one is aware of it choicelessly from moment to moment (yathabhuta nana dassanam). The reality keeps changing from moment to moment and one is aware of this change (at the level of sensations) from moment to moment-this changing reality makes the 'path' the 'pathless path'.
view of reality as it is becomes his right view. Thought of reality
as it is becomes his right thought. Effort toward reality as it is
becomes his right effort. Awareness of reality as it is becomes his
right awareness. Concentration on reality as it is becomes his right
concentration. His actions of body and speech and his livelihood become
truly purified. Thus the Noble Eightfold Path advances him toward
development and fulfillment.
-M. 149, Maha-Salayatanika Sutta
truths of which before I had only heard, now I dwell having experienced
them directly within the body, and I observe them with penetrating
-S. XLVIII (IV). v. 10 (50), Apana Sutta (spoken by Sariputta, chief disciple of the Buddha)