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The Noble Eightfold Path

drawing of Dharmachakra wheel

  1. Right vision, or understanding: understanding that life always involves change and suffering; realising that following the Noble Eightfold Path is the way to overcome suffering and be really happy.
  2. Right emotion: commiting oneself to wholeheartedly following the path.
  3. Right speech: speaking in a positive and helpful way; speaking the truth.
  4. Right action: living an ethical life acording to the precepts.
  5. Right livelihood: doing work that doesn’t harm others and is helpful to them.
  6. Right effort: thinking in a kindly and positive way.
  7. Right mindfulness: being fully aware of oneself, other people, and the world around you.
  8. Right meditation, or concentration: training the mind to be calm and positive in order to develop Wisdom.

The Dharmachakra is a Buddhist symbol for the Dharma. It usually has eight spokes to represent the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path.
Although the ‘Path’ has eight separate steps, they are not intended to be followed one after another. The Buddhist way of life involves all of them and enables Buddhists to train themselves in every aspect of their lives.

All Buddhists should strive to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, whether they live in a remote monastery in Tibet or in a flat in the middle of a city. How do Buddhists follow the Eightfold Path?

Here are some quotes from Buddhists who are trying to follow this ancient Buddhist teaching in a modern setting.

RIGHT VISION

Before I can practise Buddhism at all, I have to have some idea that there’s something to work towards. When I look at the Buddha image I remember that I, too, can be like that. I can become happier, wiser and more compassionate. I too want to gain Enlightenment. That’s my goal,my vision.

RIGHT EMOTION

It’s no good wanting Enlightenment in my head, if, in my heart, I can’t be bothered. One way I can motivate myself is by meditating. I can also inspire myself by reading some Dharma books.

RIGHT SPEECH

We have a strong effect on others through our speech and communication. I need to speak kindly and truthfully. If I tell the truth, especially when it isn’t easy, I can develop honesty and fearlessness. By being truthful I do myself honour....What a challenge it is to be really honest and always kind.

RIGHT ACTION

We’re engaged in actions all day. Buddhism says that the key to Right Action is intention. Behind every action is a state of mind. If I catch myself in a negative state of mind, I can choose to act differently and so practise Right Action.

RIGHT LIVELIHOOD

We try to avoid any kind of work that might increase suffering in the world. We don’t want to harm the environment, animals or humans. So we avoid work involving weapons, tobacco or alcohol. Instead, I want to find work that can help the world. I like to work with other Buddhists because it keeps me on my toes. It’s not easy to forget the Noble Eightfold path when your mates are practising it too.

RIGHT EFFORT

I can find myself in different states of mind from one moment to the next. What can I do about this? My states of mind can affect what I do. So I need to ask myself through the day: 'What state am I in?' Then I can change that by making more effort - I can change how I think and feel .With Right Effort I can develop a more positive and brighter outlook.

RIGHT MINDFULNESS

Often we are not aware of how we are feeling or what we are doing. If we can become more aware we can live in the present moment and transform our lives. Staying aware is a practice that can lead to happier states of mind. Instead of rushing through a job, I can slow down and even enjoy what I am doing. Right mindfulness makes the most of the present moment.

RIGHT MEDITATION

I begin my day with meditation. Why do I meditate? I can only transform myself in all the other steps of the path, if I know myself well. Meditation helps me to develop calm and peaceful states of mind. Then I can begin to see myself more clearly. With the help of meditation, I can gradually progress through ever higher states of mind along the path. I can get nearer and nearer to Enlightenment, even if takes much effort and many lifetimes.