What is Eightfold path in Buddhism

Encyclopedia of Buddhism by Subodh Gupta

The Eightfold Path is a core teaching of Bhagwan Buddha that outlines the path to enlightenment and the end of suffering.

It consists of eight interconnected practices that are divided into three categories: Sheel (ethical conduct), Samadhi, and Pragya (wisdom).

The Eightfold Path is often depicted as a wheel with eight spokes, with each spoke representing one of the eight practices. Below is a theoretical explanation of each of the eight practices although it is a must to experience all the Buddha’s teaching on a physical sensation level:

Right understanding (samma-ditthi): This practice involves understanding the Four Noble Truths and the true nature of reality, including the impermanence of all things and the lack of a permanent self.

Right intention (samma-sankappa): This practice involves cultivating wholesome intentions, such as a desire to end suffering and to cultivate compassion and loving-kindness towards others.

Right speech (samma-vaca): This practice involves speaking truthfully and avoiding harmful speech, such as lying, gossiping, and using harsh or abusive language.

Right action (samma-kammanta): This practice involves acting in a way that is beneficial to oneself and others, avoiding actions that cause harm or suffering, such as killing, stealing, and engaging in sexual misconduct.

Right livelihood (samma-ajiva): This practice involves choosing a profession that does not cause harm to oneself or others, and that supports the cultivation of spiritual practices. For example, a profession that relates to alcohol, arms, or drugs is not the right livelihoods.

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Right effort (samma-vayama): This practice involves making an effort to cultivate wholesome states of mind and to overcome unwholesome states, such as greed, hatred, and delusion.

Right mindfulness (samma-sati): This practice involves developing a heightened awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions in the present moment, and being mindful of the impermanent nature of all things.

Right concentration (samma-samadhi): This practice involves developing a focused and stable mind through the practice of meditation and other concentration techniques.

By following the Eightfold Path, an individual can cultivate the qualities and practices that lead to the end of suffering and the attainment of enlightenment. It is not meant to be followed in a rigid or sequential manner, but rather as a holistic path to be followed throughout one’s life.