In summary, the Noble Eightfold Path is 8 basic steps to focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.
In other words, the Noble Eightfold Path, is our path from suffering.
The path has eight points and is known as the eightfold path.
- Right view/True understanding.
The first step is called right view or true understanding. It’s the step of understanding, that life contains joy as well as suffering.
There is no such thing as life without suffering. May it be due to war, hunger, disease, death, depression, fears, insecurities, obsessions or other things in our lives.
If we want to open our minds with awareness, we have to be able to look at life directly, and accept that life is made of both joys and sorrows.
On the other hand. We also need to be aware, that most of the suffering in our lives are created by ourselves.
This happens when we start clinging to our own view, on how things are supposed to be, and impose our own expectations about our lives.
It is our reactions to events that create the suffering. Reactions like fear, greed, hatred, prejudice, delusions, lack of forgiveness etc.
True understanding occurs when we see things simply, as they are, and react with an open attitude, instead of reacting with negative feelings as mentioned above.
- Right intention.
The second step of the path is called right intention. It proceeds from right view. If we are able to abandon our expectations, our hopes and fears, we no longer need to be manipulative. We don’t have to try to con situations into our preconceived notions of how they should be. We work with what is. Our intentions are pure.
- Right speech.
The third aspect of the path is right speech. Words are very powerful. And we need to respect these as such.
Once our intentions are pure, we no longer have to be embarrassed about our speech. Since we aren’t trying to manipulate people, we don’t have to be hesitant about what we say, nor do we need to try bluff our way through a conversation with any sort of phoney confidence. We say what needs to be said, very simply in a genuine way.
- Right discipline.
The fourth step on the path, right discipline, involves a kind of renunciation. We need to give up our tendency to complicate issues. We practice simplicity. We have a simple straight-forward relationship with our dinner, our job, our house and our family. We give up all the unnecessary and frivolous complications that we usually try to cloud our relationships with.
- Right livelihood.
Right livelihood is the fifth step on the path. It is only natural and right that we should earn our living.Often, many of us don’t particularly enjoy our jobs. We can’t wait to get home from work and begrudge the amount of time that our job takes away from our enjoyment of the good life. Perhaps, we might wish we had a more glamorous job. We don’t feel that our job in a factory or office is in keeping with the image we want to project. The truth is, that we should be glad of our job, whatever it is. We should form a simple relationship with it. We need to perform it properly, with attention to detail.
- Right effort.
The sixth aspect of the path is right effort.Wrong effort is struggle. We often approach a spiritual discipline as though we need to conquer our evil side and promote our good side. We are locked in combat with ourselves and try to obliterate the tiniest negative tendency.Right effort doesn’t involve struggle at all. When we see things as they are, we can work with them, gently and without any kind of aggression whatsoever.
- Right mindfulness.
Right mindfulness, the seventh step, involves precision and clarity. We are mindful of the tiniest details of our experience. We are mindful of the way we talk, the way we perform our jobs, our posture, our attitude toward our friends and family, every detail.
- Right concentration.
Right concentration, or absorption is the eighth step of the path.Usually we are absorbed in absent mindedness. Our minds are completely captivated by all sorts of entertainment and speculations.
Right absorption means that we are completely absorbed in nowness, in things as they are. This can only happen if we have some sort of discipline, such as sitting meditation. We might even say that without the discipline of sitting meditation, we can’t walk the eightfold path at all. Sitting meditation cuts through our absent mindedness. It provides a space or gap in our preoccupation with ourselves.