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Examine Consistency of Eight Noble Path

Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 1
The Noble Eightfold Path .............................................................................................................................. 3
The Right Understanding (Samm Dihi) ................................................................................................. 4
The Right Thought (Samm Sakappa) .................................................................................................... 5
The Right Speech (Samm Vc)............................................................................................................... 5
The Right Action (Samm Kammanta) ...................................................................................................... 6
The Right Livelihood (Samm jva).......................................................................................................... 6
The Right Effort (Samm Vyma) ............................................................................................................ 7
The Right Mindfulness (Samm Sati) ........................................................................................................ 8
The Right Concentration (Samm Samdhi) ............................................................................................. 8
The Threefold Disciples and the Eightfold Path ............................................................................................ 9
Conclusion ................................................................................................................................................... 10

Examine Consistency of Eight Noble Path


Introduction
The Noble Eightfold Path is one of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha. The
noble eightfold path include into four noble truths, it can be regarded as an essence of the
Buddhism and also includes only Buddhism, not other religion1. The noble eightfold path was
rediscovered by the Gautama Buddha. The Theravada pali canon mention the noble eightfold
path as an ancient path which has been followed and practiced by all the previous Buddhas.
The Buddha said in the nagara sutta; O monks, a man who walks in the forest sees the
ancient road. He goes on that way and he meets a ruined city which has gardens, ponds,
and walls. He comes and says to the king about that ancient city. Then king and
ministers go and build up again that city. As well as I also find out the eightfold path
which followed by previous Buddhas.2 The noble eightfold path is a practice which leads
to attain to nibbana (liberation).
The Gautama bodhisatta was finding out the nibbana very long time in the existence.
Finally he was born in birth as king of Vessantara. At that time, he gave up everything and
wished the nibbana. After death from that birth, he was in tusita heaven. According to pali
canon, the Sakka who is the leader of the all Devas invited to him to born of the mothers
womb in this earth (Human world) 3 . Then he looked at the earth and found out the
Pacavilokana. They are; Time, Country, Place, Tribe, and Mother4. Ultimately he was born
Mahamayas womb the Suddhodana as the father. He learnt everything what can be improved
as a student. After he married with Yasodara and got a son named was Rahula. When the
Rahula was born, he left the palace to find out the reality of the living beings. Then he went
to the Alra klma and Uddakarma putta who were popular teachers at that time in India.
He got the knowledge from them what they had known. But he did not satisfy with their
knowledge because it was not enough for the liberation. Therefore he left them to find
liberation himself. Six years after left the palace, he himself rediscovered what the reality of
the living beings. That is the Noble eightfold path.
1

mah parinibbna sutta, Dn. p. 109.


nagara sutta, Sn 2, p.164.
3
Kloyante mahvra uppajja mtu kucchiya
sadevaka trayanto bujjhassu amata pada
4
kla ca dpa desa ca kula mtara kucchiya
sdevaka trayanto bujjassu amata pada
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There are many term to introduce the noble eightfold path. Ariyo aagiko maggo is
pali translation of the noble eightfold path. The noble eightfold path is also known as the
middle path or the middle way (majjhim paipad tathgatena abhisambuddha)5. Its goal
is Arahantship in Theravada. The Mahayana calls the bodhisatta path which culminates in
Buddha hood. All elements of the noble eightfold path start with samm, term of the pali.
Samm has lots of meanings in English, such as coherence, perfect, wise, wholesome, skillful
and completion. The Gotama Buddha (Shakyamuni) rediscovered it. We can find out it in the
first sermon, the dhammacakkappavattana sutta.
The doctrine of the Buddha cannot be made someone awaken or comprehend. It
should be self-awaken6. We have to practice it ourselves and get knowledge7. Otherwise we
cannot able to understand. On the other hand, anyone who is ordinary human cannot explain
properly what the doctrine of the Buddha. The eightfold path is the greatest way to attain to
nibbana (maggnahagiko seho) 8 . If one goes in the middle path he can delude even
archfiend (mra). Also this way keeps down all the sufferings, lust, passion and depravity9.
Some scientist in western says that the Buddhism mentions as pessimistic and everything in
the world is impermanent. Another one says Buddhism is selfish religion10 because they have
not seen or understand what the Buddhism is. If someone sees the Buddhism only one-way,
they will get misunderstand about Buddhism11.
Life is really suffering in the existence. Every pleasurable thing is leading to suffering.
Therefore we have to suffer in every moment by moment. In the four noble truths indicate
different kind of dukkha. We can translate the term of the dukkha into English as suffering or
pain. But it is not full meaning of this term. Dukka has wider meaning. Whatever, the
ambition of the all Buddhists is cessation of suffering or stop the life of existence (sansra).
The noble eightfold path is very important for that.
Buddha said that the all his doctrine includes into sattis bodhipaksika dhamma12. As
well as one who practices the noble eightfold path and he can practice satis bodhipaksika

dhammacakkappavattana sutta. Sn 5(2), 146.


ehipassiko opanayiko pacchatta veditabbo
7
dhammapada gatha, 276. p.220
8
dhammapada gatha, 273. p. 220.
9
dhammapada gatha, 275. p. 220.
10
Max weber, Religion of India, p. 61.
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ekaga dassi
12
mahaparinibbana sutta. Dn 2, p.186.
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dhamma because satis bodhipaksika dhamma included into noble eightfold path 13 . The
ultimate reality of the Buddhism is nibbana. It also should step by step as sovn, sakadgmi,
angmi and arahant. Buddha said this method as brahmacariya. Brahmacariya is noble
eightfold path14. Sometime Buddha said sota for the noble eightfold path. Also sotapatti is
the practice of the noble eightfold path15.
The noble eightfold path included into three disciples16. Three disciples are morality,
concentration and wisdom (sla, samdhi, pa). Sometime we can find out the noble
eightfold path which included into navalokuttara dhamma. The navalokuttara dhamma are
eight elements of the noble eightfold path and samm nadassana. The mahcattarsaka
sutta mentions that not only the eight elements of the noble eightfold path, but also there are
ten elements. They are eight elements of the noble eightfold path, samm adassna and
samm vimutti. However if follow and practice the noble eightfold path we can attain to
nibbana.

The Noble Eightfold Path


When we talk about the noble eightfold path we can find out in the
dhammacakkappavattana sutta. The Buddha preached to his five former companions. Seven
weeks after the Buddhas awakening, he thought that I had attained to nibbana and
understood all the dhammas in the world. Then he thought that the doctrine which I
understood is very deep and the highest, which who able to understand this doctrine? The
Sahampati brahma came to him and invited that please preach the dhamma for the world.
There are so many people able to reach to the nibbana. Then he thought that to whom I
should preach dhamma. Firstly he remembered his teachers, Alara kalma and Uddakarma
putta who taught to him when he discovered the liberation. But they already died. Therefore
he went to the five companions in Isipatana of deer park in Bharanasa and preached the first
doctrine the dhammacakkappavattana sutta. In this sutta, the Buddha mentioned about the
four noble truths,
ayameva ariyo ahagiko maggo seyyathda: sammdihi sammsakappo sammvc
sammkammanto sammjvo sammvymo sammsati sammsamdhi. [s v 42 1] 2)

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mahasalayatanika sutta, Mn 3,596.


brahmacariya sutta Mn 5(1) 142.
15
dutiya sariputta sutta. Sn 5(2) 146.
16
clavedalla Mn, 1, 706.
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It is just this Noble Eight-factored Path, that is, right understand, right thought, right
speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

The Right Understanding (Samm Dihi)


The first constitution of the noble eightfold path is the samm dihi, the basal
meaning is right understanding on us or regarding to the nature of living beings. And also it
can be regarded as right view or vision. If one has the samma dihi then he able to
understand the Dhamma. The understanding is the dhamma that all the things which are
subject to arising and to cessation. Normally we say I know, I understand. But that seems a
reasonable, sensible thing. The term of the samm dihi is not this cerebral understanding. It
has wider meaning. We know everything in the world arise from causes and conditions. That
we call Sakra (impermanent things), the nature of the sakra is impermanent. In the pali
texts, the nature of the arising, vanishing and standing (Uppdo payati, vayo payati
and hitatta aatatta payati). And also we should understand nature of the existence
through the three marks of existence or three characteristics (tilakkhaa). They are the
impermanent, suffering and non-self. According to Saccavibhaga sutta in Majjhima nikya
mentions that the knowledge about the four noble truth17. In the Buddhas time there were
two extremes (dihi). They are Eternalism (ssvata vda) and Annihilationism or Nihilism
(Uccheda vda). Eternal view mentions that the beings are as the permanent entity with exist
forever. And Nihilistic view is after the death of the beings, everything comes into the end.
There are nothing has value and especially that religious or moral principles has no value. But,
samm dihi is not these views18. These philosophers did not tell about the nature of the
living being. Therefore Buddha rejected them. Also there were another two extremes (views)
called self-mortification (Attakiamatnuyoga) and self-indulgence (Kmasukalliknuyoga)19.
The samm dihi is the way which is between of the two extremes. We always attach the
world as a soul (sakkya dihi). It helps to improve our unwholesome facts. We need to see
the world without darkness of ignorance (avijj). When we see the world as an ordinary

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ya kho vso dukkhe a dukkha samudaye a dukkha nirodhe a dukkha nirodha gminiy
paipadya a aya uccatvuso samma dihi. Saccavibhaga sutta. Mn p.516.
18
atthti kho kaccna, ayameko anto. natthti kho kaccna aya dutiyo anto, ete te kaccna ubho ante
anupagamma majjhena tathagato dhamma deseti. Abhisamaya sayutta, Sn. p.28.
19
dhammacakkappavattana sutta Sn 5(2), p.145.

human, really we see through the ignorance (avijj unknowing the world). This factor links
to second element.

The Right Thought (Samm Sakappa)


Samm sakappa is the right thought, intention or thinking in the right way. On the
other hand, we can say as an aspiration because we do aspire with right understanding. When
there is right understanding, our aspiration is the truth or good. It has not any desire (tah).
Therefore these two factors include into wisdom (pa). There are three factors of the right
thought such as thought of the renunciation or non-attachment (nekkamma skappa), its
meaning is giving up, the thought of the non-hatred (avypda sakappa), and the thought of
non-violence (avihis sakappa). Every people are living in the world with unsatisfied or
discontented even we have the best of every pleasant things. We always try to attach or
collect what can be made us happy. Someone has the big house, the comfortable car, the
marriage and the lovely children but they are not completely happy. Therefore we should
aspire to know the truth. If one understands that about the nature of the world, he never
attaches anything belonging to suffering. Then he tries to give up and non-attach. When we
associate with people we have to face worries, lamentations, sorrows, and stress or struggles.
All those things arise because of contacts with society. The thought of non-hatred or good
will opposes the thought of ill will, thoughts governed by anger and aversion. As in the case
of desire, there are two ineffective ways of handling ill will. One is to yield to it, to express
the aversion by bodily or verbal action. Therefore we need to improve loving kindness. The
thought of harmlessness is thought guided by compassion, aroused in opposition to cruel,
aggressive, and violent thoughts. Compassion supplies the complement to loving kindness.

The Right Speech (Samm Vc)


The meaning of the samm vc is right speech. It include into verbal factor. The
samm sakappa helps to make right speech because one who has right intention or thought
his next step is right speech or oral factor. Buddha divides right speech into four factors such
as abstaining from lying (musvd veramai), abstaining from slanderous speech
(pisunvc veramai), abstaining from harsh speech (pharusvc veramai), and
abstaining from idle chatter (sampapphalp veramai). Because the effects of speech are
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not as immediately evident as those of bodily action, its importance and potential is easily
overlooked. But a little reflection will show that speech and its offshoot, the written word,
can have enormous consequences for good or for harm. Speech can break lives, divide
friendships, create enemies, and start wars, or create peace, and it can give wisdom. If you do
not have well something to talk, should be noble silent (Dhammiv kat ariyov tunhibhvo).
The speech is the important factor of our life. We should careful when we talk something
with others.

The Right Action (Samm Kammanta)


The next categorize is samm kammanta or right action. It means abstaining from
unwholesome deeds that occur with the body. If you have avoided from mental and orally
bad deeds then you try to make your bodily behavior. The pivotal element in this path factor
is the mental factor of abstinence, but because this abstinence applies to actions performed
through the body. The Buddha mentions three components of right action such as abstaining
from taking life (pnatipt veramani), abstaining from taking what is not given
(adinndn veramani), and abstaining from sexual misconduct (kamesu micchcr
veramani). Our mind should be full of compassion and sympathy for the all living beings and
desirous of the welfare of all sentient beings. The Dhammapada says that every living being
like and love their life20. Therefore their life should be protected and saved, get own self as an
example. We should think other life as own self (tmavat sarva bhtesu). And also we should
protect other properties. If we have intention to steal them, we can think all those thinks as
useless things (lostavat para dravyesu). One avoids sexual misconduct and abstains from it.
He has no intercourse with such persons as are still under the protection of father, mother,
brother, sister, relatives, and with married women or others. In sanskrit literature mentions
that we should think other woman as own mother (mtruvat paradresu).

The Right Livelihood (Samm jva)


The term of the Samm jiva, we can translate as a right business or right livelihood
is concerned with ensuring that one earns one's living in a righteous way, and talking about
our occupation.

This term is more important to lay people. Monks do not have any

occupation. They depend on society. But lay people are doing jobs and earn money. The
Buddha teaches that wealth should be gained in accordance with certain standards. Everyone
20

Sabbe tasanti daassa sabbesa jvita piya Dhammapada gath 130. p. 124.

should earn money righteously (sedvakkittak dhammik dhamma ladd). The Buddha
mentions five specific kinds of livelihood which bring harm to others and are therefore to be
avoided such as the business in weapons (sattha vanijja): trading in all kinds of weapons and
instruments for killing. The business in human beings & animals (satta vanijja): slave
trading, prostitution, or the buying and selling of children or adults. The business in meat
(mamsa vanijja): "meat" refers to the bodies of beings after they are killed. This includes
breeding animals for slaughter. The business in intoxicants (majja vanijja): manufacturing or
selling intoxicating drinks or addictive drugs. The business in poison (visa vanijja):
producing or trading in any kind of poison or a toxic product designed to harm. Obviously
some occupation that requires violation of right speech and right action is a wrong form of
livelihood, but other occupations, such as selling weapons or intoxicants, may not violate
those factors and yet be wrong because of their consequences for others. Both are not correct
occupation. If we do something as occupation, it should be righteous or should not be
harmful to society.

The Right Effort (Samm Vyma)


Meaning of the samma vayama is right effort which achieves the spiritual purification.
The right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration are included into concentration
(samdhi) of the three disciples. These three factors are together helpful to provide
concentration of our mind. The factor of concentration needs the aid of effort and
mindfulness. Right effort provides the energy demanded by the task, right mindfulness the
steadying points for awareness. In the Buddhist teaching points out there are four factors of
right effort. They are the effort to prevent unwholesome qualities that have not arisen of our
mind, the effort to extinguish unwholesome qualities that already have arisen of our mind, the
effort to cultivate wholesome qualities that have not yet arisen of our mind, and the effort to
strengthen the wholesome qualities that have already arisen. These three factors are important
for our daily life too. We live in this sensual world. Therefore we can see many thing which
can be possible to attractive our eyes. When the defilements come to our mind, we should
recognize all those things. When somebody comes to house we must think whether he is a
thief, enemy and other bad person or our relative, friend and other good person. There is any
bad person we never accept him. But there is our friend or relative we must pay our
hospitality for him. In this way, when the intentions come into our mind it should be
recognized whether it is good or bad. It will be helped to improve mental effort.
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The Right Mindfulness (Samm Sati)


Samm sati can be translated as mindfulness. The one of the important factors is
mindfulness for this life. What brings the field of experience into focus and makes it
accessible to insight is a mental faculty (sati). Mindfulness is presence of mind that
attentiveness or awareness. The mindfulness is difference on mode of consciousness. All
consciousness involves awareness in the sense of a knowing or experiencing of an object. But
with the practice of mindfulness awareness is applied at a special pitch. We should have the
mindfulness about four factors such as the mindfulness is focused on the body. (kaye
kayanupassi viharati), the mindfulness is focused on feelings. (vedanasu vedananupassi
viharati), the mindfulness is focused on the mind. (citte cittanupassi viharati), the
mindfulness is focused on mental qualities. (dhamme dhammanupassi viharati). Mostly
people forget something when they are in working. It means they have not mindfulness.
Another factor is the mindfulness should be with our posture such as going, sitting, doing,
standing, lying, eating and so on. The mindfulness link with concentration directly, without
mindfulness cannot practice concentration. And also mindfulness needs to practice other
factors also.

The Right Concentration (Samm Samdhi)


The last factor of the path is right concentration, samma samadhi. Concentration
represents an intensification of a mental factor present in every state of consciousness. We
can say this factor as one-pointedness of mind has the function of unifying the other mental
factors in the task of cognition. It is the factor responsible for the individuating aspect of
consciousness, ensuring that every citta or act of mind remains centered on its object. The
mind untrained in concentration moves in a scattered manner which the Buddha compares to
the fish who taken from the water and thrown onto land. It cannot stay fixed but rushes from
idea to idea, from thought to thought, without inner control 21 . Concentration can be
developed through the Samatha and Vipassana meditation. The practitioner concentrates on
an object of attention until reaching full concentration and a state of meditative absorption. It
should be got step by step four statements of meditative (pahamajjhna, dutiyajjhna,
tatiyajjhna, and catutthajjhana).

21

Dhammapada gth 34. p. 35.

The Threefold Disciples and the Eightfold Path


The threefold disciple is the name for the path for the Nibbna. The clavedalla sutta,
preached by the bhikkhuni dhammadinna, mentions that the relationship between threefold
disciple and the eightfold path. The Eightfold Path is divided into three groups such as Virtue,
Concentration and Wisdom (sla, samdhi and pa). This Path is unique to Buddhism and
distinguishes it from every other religion and philosophy.
The eight factors of the Path are, the right understanding (samm-dihi) and the right
Thought (samm-sakappa) are group of wisdom (pa)22. The right Speech (samma-vc),
right Action (samma-kammanta) and right Livelihood (samma-jva) are group of virtue
(sla)

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. Right Effort (samma-vyma), right Mindfulness (samma-sati) and right

Concentration (samma-samdhi) are group of concentration (samdhi)24. The noble eightfold


path can be included into threefold disciple, but the threefold disciple cannot be included into
noble eightfold path because the samm dihi and samm vc cannot consider as fully
wisdom.

22

thi ca kho vuso viskha khandhehi ariyo ahagiko maggo sagahto: y cvuso viskha sammvc yo ca
sammkammanto yo ca sammjvo, ime dhamm slakkhandhe sagaht. Mn i p.301.
23

yo ca sammvymo y ca sammsati yo ca sammsamdhi, ime dhamm samdhikkhandhe sagaht. Mn i


p.301.
24

y ca sammdihi yo ca sammsakappo, ime dhamm pakkhandhe sagahtti. Mn i p.301.

Conclusion

Life is really suffering in the existence. Every pleasurable thing is leading to suffering.
Therefore we should eradicate every dukkha in our life, and attain to nibbana. The Buddha
has shown us that the way of nibbana named the middle path, include eight elements. When
we practice all these constitutions in our life (society or family) it should be necessarily.
There is no anything one by one to practice. When we need compassion, we have to practice
it. When we need mindfulness we have to practice it. But all elements link each other. When
we choose right thought, we need help from right understanding, without right understanding
cannot be practiced other factors. These two factors link to right speech. In this way, the one
factor useful to another factor. Then he has awakening about these eight elements. Finally
practitioner approaches to right concentration. If one has right understanding, then easy for
him to cultivate mind, oral and bodily action in righteous way or ethical task. After following
this path, we will be free from all the sufferings, in the Dhammacakkappavattana sutta:
O monks, this is that middle way awakened to by the Buddha, to producing vision, to
producing knowledge; it leads to appeasement, to higher knowledge, to fullThe noble
eightfold path is not enough to attain to nibbana. One who fulfill these eight factors he has to
focus Samm Vimutti and Samm Vimutti na dassana. When one gets knowledge about
all these factors, he has fully wisdom, means nibbana.

Ven. Dorapane Chandananda,


Sri Lanka.
04.05.2016

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