The Noble Eightfold Path !!

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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The Noble Eightfold Path !!

Post by tidathep » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:22 pm

Dear Members,

This Uposatha Day, I would like to post this dhamma for you all:


:candle: The Noble Eightfold Path (1) :candle:
[My dad emailed to me]

This series of teachings is based on a famous book: The Noble Eightfold Path:
The Way to the End of Suffering, by Bhikkhu Bodhi ... d.html#ch1


1. "The essence of the Buddha's teaching can be summed up in two principles: the
Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The first covers the side of
doctrine, and the primary response it elicits is understanding; the second
covers the side of discipline, in the broadest sense of that word, and the
primary response it calls for is practice. In the structure of the teaching
these two principles lock together into an indivisible unity called the
dhamma-vinaya, the doctrine-and-discipline, or, in brief, the Dhamma. The
internal unity of the Dhamma is guaranteed by the fact that the last of the Four
Noble Truths, the truth of the way, is the Noble Eightfold Path, while the first
factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right view, is the understanding of the Four
Noble Truths. Thus the two principles penetrate and include one another, the
formula of the Four Noble Truths containing the Eightfold Path and the Noble
Eightfold Path containing the Four Truths.

"Given this integral unity, it would be pointless to pose the question which of
the two aspects of the Dhamma has greater value, the doctrine or the path. But
if we did risk the pointless by asking that question, the answer would have to
be the path. The path claims primacy because it is precisely this that brings
the teaching to life. The path translates the Dhamma from a collection of
abstract formulas into a continually unfolding disclosure of truth. It gives an
outlet from the problem of suffering with which the teaching starts. And it
makes the teaching's goal, liberation from suffering, accessible to us in our
own experience, where alone it takes on authentic meaning.

2. "To follow the Noble Eightfold Path is a matter of practice rather than
intellectual knowledge, but to apply the path correctly it has to be properly
understood. In fact, right understanding of the path is itself a part of the
practice. It is a facet of right view, the first path factor, the forerunner and
guide for the rest of the path. Thus, though initial enthusiasm might suggest
that the task of intellectual comprehension may be shelved as a bothersome
distraction, mature consideration reveals it to be quite essential to ultimate
success in the practice.

3. "The present book aims at contributing towards a proper understanding of the
Noble Eightfold Path by investigating its eight factors and their components to
determine exactly what they involve. I have attempted to be concise, using as
the framework for exposition the Buddha's own words in explanation of the path
factors, as found in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali canon. To assist the reader
with limited access to primary sources even in translation, I have tried to
confine my selection of quotations as much as possible (but not completely) to
those found in Venerable Nyanatiloka's classic anthology, The Word of the
Buddha. In some cases passages taken from that work have been slightly modified,
to accord with my own

preferred renderings. For further amplification of meaning I have sometimes
drawn upon the commentaries; especially in my accounts of concentration and
wisdom (Chapters VII and VIII) I have relied heavily on the Visuddhimagga (The
Path of Purification), a vast encyclopedic work which systematizes the practice
of the path in a detailed and comprehensive manner. Limitations of space prevent
an exhaustive treatment of each factor. To compensate for this deficiency I have
included a list of recommended readings at the end, which the reader may consult
for more detailed explanations of individual path factors. For full commitment
to the practice of the path, however, especially in its advanced stages of
concentration and insight, it will be extremely helpful to have contact with a
properly qualified teacher."

tidathep :heart:

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Re: The Noble Eightfold Path !!

Post by tidathep » Tue Apr 09, 2013 3:38 pm

Dear Members,

:candle: The Noble Eightfold Path 2 :candle:
[From Bhikkhu Bodhi Book/my dad emailed to me]

[Chapter I: The Way to the End of Suffering]

4. "The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering. It does not start
with lights and ecstasy, but with the hard tacks of pain, disappointment, and
confusion. However, for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search,
it must amount to more than something passively received from without. It has to
trigger an inner realization, a perception which pierces through the facile
complacency of our usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity
perpetually gaping underfoot. When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily,
it can precipitate a profound personal crisis. It overturns accustomed goals and
values, mocks our routine preoccupations, leaves old enjoyments stubbornly

"At first such changes generally are not welcome. We try to deny our vision and
to smother our doubts; we struggle to drive away the discontent with new
pursuits. But the flame of inquiry, once lit, continues to burn, and if we do
not let ourselves be swept away by superficial readjustments or slouch back into
a patched up version of our natural optimism, eventually the original glimmering
of insight will again flare up, again confront us with our essential plight. It
is precisely at that point, with all escape routes blocked, that we are ready to
seek a way to bring our disquietude to an end. No longer can we continue to
drift complacently through life, driven blindly by our hunger for sense
pleasures and by the pressure of prevailing social norms. A deeper reality
beckons us; we have heard the call of a more stable, more authentic happiness,
and until we arrive at our destination we cannot rest content.

5. "But it is just then that we find ourselves facing a new difficulty. Once we
come to recognize the need for a spiritual path we discover that spiritual
teachings are by no means homogeneous and mutually compatible. When we browse
through the shelves of humanity's spiritual heritage, both ancient and
contemporary, we do not find a single tidy volume but a veritable bazaar of
spiritual systems and disciplines each offering themselves to us as the highest,
the fastest, the most powerful, or the most profound solution to our quest for
the Ultimate. Confronted with this melange, we fall into confusion trying to
size them up — to decide which is truly liberative, a real solution to our
needs, and which is a sidetrack beset with hidden flaws.

"One approach to resolving this problem that is popular today is the eclectic
one: to pick and choose from the various traditions whatever seems amenable to
our needs, welding together different practices and techniques into a synthetic
whole that is personally satisfying. Thus one may combine Buddhist mindfulness
meditation with sessions of Hindu mantra recitation, Christian prayer with Sufi
dancing, Jewish Kabbala with Tibetan visualization exercises. Eclecticism,
however, though sometimes helpful in making a transition from a predominantly
worldly and materialistic way of life to one that takes on a spiritual hue,
eventually wears thin. While it makes a comfortable halfway house, it is not
comfortable as a final vehicle.

6. "There are two interrelated flaws in eclecticism that account for its
ultimate inadequacy. One is that eclecticism compromises the very traditions it
draws upon. The great spiritual traditions themselves do not propose their
disciplines as independent techniques that may be excised from their setting and
freely recombined to enhance the felt quality of our lives. They present them,
rather, as parts of an integral whole, of a coherent vision regarding the
fundamental nature of reality and the final goal of the spiritual quest. A
spiritual tradition is not a shallow stream in which one can wet one's feet and
then beat a quick retreat to the shore. It is a mighty, tumultuous river which
would rush through the entire landscape of one's life, and if one truly wishes
to travel on it, one must be courageous enough to launch one's boat and head out
for the depths.

"The second defect in eclecticism follows from the first. As spiritual
practices are built upon visions regarding the nature of reality and the final
good, these visions are not mutually compatible. When we honestly examine the
teachings of these traditions, we will find that major differences in
perspective reveal themselves to our sight, differences which cannot be easily
dismissed as alternative ways of saying the same thing. Rather, they point to
very different experiences constituting the supreme goal and the path that must
be trodden to reach that goal."

tidathep/yawares :heart: :anjali:

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Re: The Noble Eightfold Path !!

Post by tidathep » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:06 pm

The Noble Eightfold Path (3)
[My dad emailed to me from Bhikkhu Bodhi Book]

Dear Members,


This part of the book reads like a Master of Philosophy thesis. But he clearly
has a valid approach to Dhamma analysis.

7. "Hence, because of the differences in perspectives and practices that the
different spiritual traditions propose, once we decide that we have outgrown
eclecticism and feel that we are ready to make a serious commitment to one
particular path, we find ourselves confronted with the challenge of choosing a
path that will lead us to true enlightenment and liberation. One cue to
resolving this dilemma is to clarify to ourselves our fundamental aim, to
determine what we seek in a genuinely liberative path. If we reflect carefully,
it will become clear that the prime requirement is a way to the end of
suffering. All problems ultimately can be reduced to the problem of suffering;
thus what we need is a way that will end this problem finally and completely.
Both these qualifying words are important. The path has to lead to a complete
end of suffering, to an end of suffering in all its forms, and to a final end of
suffering, to bring suffering to an irreversible stop.

"But here we run up against another question. How are we to find such a path — a
path which has the capacity to lead us to the full and final end of suffering?
Until we actually follow a path to its goal we cannot know with certainty where
it leads, and in order to follow a path to its goal we must place complete trust
in the efficacy of the path. The pursuit of a spiritual path is not like
selecting a new suit of clothes. To select a new suit one needs only try on a
number of suits, inspect oneself in the mirror, and select the suit in which one
appears most attractive. The choice of a spiritual path is closer to marriage:
one wants a partner for life, one whose companionship will prove as trustworthy
and durable as the pole star in the night sky.

8. "Faced with this new dilemma, we may think that we have reached a dead end
and conclude that we have nothing to guide us but personal inclination, if not a
flip of the coin. However, our selection need not be as blind and uninformed as
we imagine, for we do have a guideline to help us. Since spiritual paths are
generally presented in the framework of a total teaching, we can evaluate the
effectiveness of any particular path by investigating the teaching which
expounds it.

"In making this investigation we can look to three criteria as standards for

(1) First, the teaching has to give a full and accurate picture of the range of
suffering. If the picture of suffering it gives is incomplete or defective, then
the path it sets forth will most likely be flawed, unable to yield a
satisfactory solution. Just as an ailing patient needs a doctor who can make a
full and correct diagnosis of his illness, so in seeking release from suffering
we need a teaching that presents a reliable account of our condition.

(2) The second criterion calls for a correct analysis of the causes giving rise
to suffering. The teaching cannot stop with a survey of the outward symptoms. It
has to penetrate beneath the symptoms to the level of causes, and to describe
those causes accurately. If a teaching makes a faulty causal analysis, there is
little likelihood that its treatment will succeed.

(3) The third criterion pertains directly to the path itself. It stipulates that
the path which the teaching offers has to remove suffering at its source. This
means it must provide a method to cut off suffering by eradicating its causes.
If it fails to bring about this root-level solution, its value is ultimately
nil. The path it prescribes might help to remove symptoms and make us feel that
all is well; but one afflicted with a fatal disease cannot afford to settle for
cosmetic surgery when below the surface the cause of his malady continues to

"To sum up, we find three requirements for a teaching proposing to offer a true
path to the end of suffering: first, it has to set forth a full and accurate
picture of the range of suffering; second, it must present a correct analysis of
the causes of suffering; and third, it must give us the means to eradicate the
causes of suffering.

tidathep/yawares :heart:

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Posts: 60
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:11 pm

Re: The Noble Eightfold Path !!

Post by tidathep » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:30 am

Dear Members,

:candle: The Noble Eightfold Path (4) :candle:
[My dad emailed to me......From Bhikkhu Bodi Book]

9. "This is not the place to evaluate the various spiritual disciplines in terms
of these criteria. Our concern is only with the Dhamma, the teaching of the
Buddha, and with the solution this teaching offers to the problem of suffering.
That the teaching should be relevant to this problem is evident from its very
nature; for it is formulated, not as a set of doctrines about the origin and end
of things commanding belief, but as a message of deliverance from suffering
claiming to be verifiable in our own experience. Along with that message there
comes a method of practice, a way leading to the end of suffering. This way is
the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya atthangika magga). The Eightfold Path stands at
the very heart of the Buddha's teaching. It was the discovery of the path that
gave the Buddha's own enlightenment a universal significance and elevated him
from the status of a wise and benevolent sage to that of a world teacher. To his
own disciples he was pre-eminently "the arouser of the path unarisen before, the
producer of the path not produced before, the declarer of the path not declared
before, the knower of the path, the seer of the path, the guide along the path"
(MN 108). And he himself invites the seeker with the promise and challenge: "You
yourselves must strive. The Buddhas are only teachers. The meditative ones who
practice the path are released from the bonds of evil" (Dhp. v. 276).

10. "To see the Noble Eightfold Path as a viable vehicle to liberation, we have
to check it out against our three criteria: to look at the Buddha's account of
the range of suffering, his analysis of its causes, and the programme he offers
as a remedy.

The Range of Suffering

The Buddha does not merely touch the problem of suffering tangentially; he makes
it, rather, the very cornerstone of his teaching. He starts the Four Noble
Truths that sum up his message with the announcement that life is inseparably
tied to something he calls dukkha. The Pali word is often translated as
suffering, but it means something deeper than pain and misery. It refers to a
basic unsatisfactoriness running through our lives, the lives of all but the
enlightened. Sometimes this unsatisfactoriness erupts into the open as sorrow,
grief, disappointment, or despair; but usually it hovers at the edge of our
awareness as a vague unlocalized sense that things are never quite perfect,
never fully adequate to our expectations of what they should be. This fact of
dukkha, the Buddha says, is the only real spiritual problem. The other problems
— the theological and metaphysical questions that have taunted religious
thinkers through the centuries — he gently waves aside as "matters not tending
to liberation." What he teaches, he says, is just suffering and the ending of
suffering, dukkha and its cessation.

"The Buddha does not stop with generalities. He goes on to expose the different
forms that dukkha takes, both the evident and the subtle. He starts with what is
close at hand, with the suffering inherent in the physical process of life
itself. Here dukkha shows up in the events of birth, aging, and death, in our
susceptibility to sickness, accidents, and injuries, even in hunger and thirst.
It appears again in our inner reactions to disagreeable situations and events:
in the sorrow, anger, frustration, and fear aroused by painful separations, by
unpleasant encounters, by the failure to get what we want. Even our pleasures,
the Buddha says, are not immune from dukkha. They give us happiness while they
last, but they do not last forever; eventually they must pass away, and when
they go the loss leaves us feeling deprived. Our lives, for the most part, are
strung out between the thirst for pleasure and the fear of pain. We pass our
days running after the one and running away from the other, seldom enjoying the
peace of contentment; real satisfaction seems somehow always out of reach, just
beyond the next horizon. Then in the end we have to die: to give up the identity
we spent our whole life building, to leave behind everything and everyone we

"But even death, the Buddha teaches, does not bring us to the end of dukkha,
for the life process does not stop with death. When life ends in one place, with
one body, the "mental continuum," the individual stream of consciousness,
springs up again elsewhere with a new body as its physical support. Thus the
cycle goes on over and over — birth, aging, and death — driven by the thirst for
more existence. The Buddha declares that this round of rebirths — called
samsara, "the wandering" — has been turning through beginningless time. It is
without a first point, without temporal origin. No matter how far back in time
we go we always find living beings — ourselves in previous lives — wandering
from one state of existence to another. The Buddha describes various realms
where rebirth can take place: realms of torment, the animal realm, the human
realm, realms of celestial bliss. But none of these realms can offer a final
refuge. Life in any plane must come to an end. It is impermanent and thus marked
with that insecurity which is the deepest meaning of dukkha. For this reason one
aspiring to the complete end of dukkha cannot rest content with any mundane
achievement, with any status, but must win emancipation from the entire unstable

NOTE: Bhikkhu Bodhi's explanation is succinct, isn't it?

Love Buddhas :heart:
tidathep :heart:

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