MORALITY, MEDITATION, AND WISDOM:
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
(ARIYA ATTHANGIKA MAGGA)
1. Right Understanding/View (Sammâ Ditthi): seeing Reality, understanding
Dhamma; an understanding that is consistent with the way things are. Right
Understanding doesn’t mean mere intellectual assent to doctrines that have
been read and heard. It is an understanding that comes through experience,
from direct observation. It is understanding interdependence and causation. It
is an understanding of ethical cause and effect: kamma (karma) and its fruits or
consequences. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Right Understanding is
a penetrative understanding of dukkha, the arising of dukkha, the cessation of
dukkha, and the Path leading to the cessation of dukkha.
2. Right Thought/Intention (Sammâ Samkappa): thoughts that are associated
with selflessness, renunciation, and generosity, free from selfishness and greed;
thoughts associated with loving-kindness, free from aversion, anger, and hatred;
and thoughts associated with compassion, free from violence and cruelty.
3. Right Speech (Sammâ Vâcâ): speech that is free from falsehood,
from harshness or abusiveness, and from frivolous, useless talk (ie, gossip). Right
speech is truthful; it is gentle, kind, purposeful, instructive, and supportive.
4. Right Action/Conduct (Sammâ Kammanta): abstaining from harming or killing;
abstaining from stealing; and abstaining from sexual misconduct (adultery, etc.).
Right Action is being non-violent and peaceful; it is giving, rather than taking; it is
sexual purity or fidelity.
5. Right Livelihood (Sammâ âjîva): avoidance of any occupation which
one to harm or kill, to steal or cheat, to exploit living beings, or to cause others to
engage in any of these types of conduct.
6. Right Effort (Sammâ Vâyâma): there are four Right Efforts: the effort to prevent the
arising of unwholesome states of mind; the effort to eliminate unwholesome mind-
states that are already present; the effort to bring about wholesome states not yet
arisen; the effort to maintain and perfect wholesome states that are already present.
7. Right Mindfulness (Sammâ Sati): mindful contemplation (present-moment aware-
ness) of the body, feelings, the mind, and mental objects (the five hindrances, seven
enlightenment factors, five aggregates, etc.).
8. Right Concentration (Sammâ Samâdhi): states of meditative absorption
jhâna, in which the mind is directed toward a specific subject of meditation. When one
maintains this focus, one may then experience rapturous joy and feelings of well-being
and happiness. One develops single-pointed concentration (cittassa ekaggatâ) and
tranquility. In the highest of the jhânas, one experiences equanimity and a temporarily
purified state of mindfulness. Note: jhâna = dhyâna = ch’an = zen.