The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path

The Four Noble Truths

The First Noble Truth – Suffering

Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, death is suffering, sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress are suffering. Being attached to the unloved is suffering, being separated from the loved is suffering, not getting what one wants is suffering. In short the five aggregates of grasping are suffering.

The Second Noble Truth – The Origin of Suffering

Craving gives rise to rebirth, bound up with pleasure and lust, finding fresh delight now here and now there, that is to say sensual craving, craving for existence, and craving for non-existence.

The Third Noble Truth – The Cessation of Suffering

It is the complete fading-away and extinction of this craving, the forsaking and abandonment of it, the liberation and detachment from it.

The Fourth Noble Truth – The Way of practice leading to the Cessation of Suffering.

It is just this, the Noble Eightfold Path: Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

The Eight Fold Path

In each case below the first word used is “right”. The sanskrit word this based on is either “samyak” or “samyag”. This is normally translated as “right” but has a meaning of complete or wholesome. These words are also sometimes translated either as “correct” or “perfect”.

Right View

Seeing things as they are.

Right Thought (aspiration, motive, resolve)

Renunciation, Non-ill will, Harmlessness

Right Speech

Refraining from lying, gossip, slander, harsh speech, and frivolous speech.

Right Action

Refraining from taking life, taking what is not freely given, and sexual misconduct. Avoiding actions that conflict with moral discipline.

Right Livelihood

Not engaging in a livelihood that harms other sentient beings.

Right Effort

A practitioner rouses the will, makes an effort, stirs up energy, exerts the mind and strives to prevent the arising of un-arisen evil and unwholesome mental states, overcome those that have arisen, and produce un-arisen wholesome mental states. (Cultivation of what is Karmically wholesome.)

Right Mindfulness

Contemplation of the body as body, feelings as feelings, mind as mind, and mind objects as mind objects. Clearly aware having put aside hankering and fretting for the world.

Right Concentration

Here a practitioner, detached from sense-desires, detached from unwholesome mental states, enters and remain in the first jhana, which is thinking and pondering, born of detachment, filled with delight and joy. And with the subsiding of thinking and pondering, by gaining inner tranquility and oneness of mind, he enters and remains in the second jhana, which is without thinking a pondering, born of concentration, filled with delight and joy. And with the fading away of delight, remaining imperturbable, mindful and clearly aware, the practitioner experiences the joy of which the Nobles Ones say: ” Happy is the person who dwells with equanimity and mindfulness”, he enters the third jhana. And, having given up pleasure and pain, and enters and remains in the fourth jhana, which is beyond pleasure and pain, and purified by equanimity and mindfulness. (Note: the Pali term Jhana means absorption).