The teachings of Buddha’s teachings can be basically summed up in two principle teachings. They are Noble Four Truth and Noble Eightfold Path. Noble Four Truths is basically the teachings that cover the side of Buddhist Doctrine and contain the understanding of the primary response it generates. Whereas Noble Eightfold Path is the principle teachings that shows the way or path that leads to the cessation of suffering and self-awakening is achieved through this teaching. According to the Noble Eightfold Path doctrine, learning this doctrine helps to develop one’s insight into the true nature of reality and helps to eradicate greed, delusion, and hatred.When Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, India, he found the way to end the pain and suffering from all of the earth. This suffering and pain is known as Dukkha and most of his teachings are about ending Dukkha from this world. The primary response that anyone can get from Noble Eightfold Path is ending suffering and pain through practice. Noble Eightfold Path is also known by the name “Middle Way” or “Middle Path”. In Buddhism, the eight paths of Middle way is represented in the form of Dharma wheel (Dharmachakra) since its eight spokes represents the eight elements of the path.
The eight elements of Noble Eightfold Path are explained below:
First factor of Middle way is right view and right view is taken as the forerunner of the entire Noble Eightfold Path and it can also be considered as the guide for all the factors of Middle Way. Right View helps s all to know about their starting point, their final destination and the difficulty to overcome as they advanced their Buddhist practices.
In Pali, right view is known as “Samma Ditti” and it is translated as Complete Vision. It provides the knowledge to end the suffering, origin of suffering or Dukkha and practice needed to end these sufferings. Even though the right view is taken as the forerunner of all factors of Middle way, these eight elements supports each other strengthening their contribution to the maximum.
The second elements of the Middle path are “Samma Sankappa” in Pali which is translated as “Right Intention”. Right Intention is put between the Right View and Right speech. Lord Buddha had categorized Right intention in threefold.
a. Intention of Renunciation
b. Intention of Good Will
c. Intention of Harmlessness
Right Intention literally means one should limit themselves and have the knowledge of what is wrong and what is correct. Having the superior understanding of Right View helps oneself on this factor of Noble Eightfold Path. When one have the right views then their way of thought or intention are also right. It is believed that if one truly recognizes the Law of karma, then this action brings positive consequences in accord of the Law of Karma.
Right Speech is the third factor of the Eightfold path of Middle Way. In Pali, Right Speech is known as “Samma Vaca”. Right Speech teaches us about the way that Buddhist monks would make the use of their speech, words in the best way as possible. According to Buddhist tradition, Lord Buddha divided right speech into four components. They are:
a. Abstaining from false speech
b. Abstaining from the Slanderous speech
c. Abstaining from harsh speech
d. Abstaining from idle chatter
Buddhist practitioner always must speak clear, truth, uplifting as well as non-harmful speech to others.
Refraining oneself from any harmful as well as unwholesome actions and deeds are considered as Right Action. It means that the practitioner should practice and train himself to make his action and activities right so that one would refrain oneself from bringing harm to others. Lord Buddha provided three components of right action. They are:
a. Abstaining from taking life
b. Abstaining from taking what is not yours
c. Abstaining from bringing sexual harm to others
5. Right Livelihood
Living in the righteous way is another factor of the eight factors of Noble Eightfold Path. In Pali, it is called as “Samma Ajiva”. One should not undertake any business that directly or indirectly harms other beings. Lord Buddha taught to avoid five actions that one shouldn’t be involved. They are dealing with weapons, dealing of human beings, killing of animals, selling or producing any intoxicants, and producing any kind of poison or toxic products. It is also said that any kind of business or occupations that violates the right action and right speech.
Right Effort is the sixth factor of the path Lord Buddha had left behind. In Pali, right effort is known as “Samma Vayama” and is also translated as “right endeavor”, “right diligence”. It is believed that Energy or Viriya is considered as the mental factor behind the right effort. It is also said that this energy can be the reason for every wholesome or unwholesome actions. Lord Buddha also mentioned the four phases of Right efforts.
a. Effort to prevent unwholesome states from arising
b. Effort to leave the unwholesome that arise within yourself
c. Effort to arise wholesome that have yet to arise
d. Effort to maintain and perfect the wholesome that have arisen
In Pali language, Right mindfulness is translated as “Samma Sati” and is the 7th factor of Noble Eightfold Path. Mindfulness is the presence of mind, attentiveness, and awareness. Buddhist practitioner practice in order to keep their mind to phenomena that keep their mind and body from being affected. That’s why one should be aware of their thoughts, words, and actions. This means Right mindfulness can only be achieved if one is aware of their right thoughts, right speech, and right actions. There are four foundations of mindfulness and they are contemplation of the body, contemplation of feeling, contemplation of the state of mind, and contemplation of phenomena.
It is the eighth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path and is known as “Samma Samadhi” in Pali Language. According to Buddhism, Concentration is the representation of mental factor in every state of consciousness. Samadhi literally means able to be fixed, absorbed or established at some point. Lord Buddha mentioned that one who is aware of all factors of Middle Way Path and can bring this awareness in day to day life will be free from the cycle of Samsara. And anyone who is aware of previous seven factors is called Noble right concentration.
In Buddhism, who can be master all these eight factors of Noble Eightfold Path will be free from the suffering and pains of the world. Of course there are other factors that helps one to attain Nirvana and be free from this life of rebirth but Noble Four Truths and Noble Eightfold Path are important Sutras in every tradition of Buddhism such as Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism and so on.