Excerpted from my book, The Practical Buddhist: Further Along the Path
“The Eight-fold Path is a practical guideline to ethical and mental development with the goal of freeing the individual from attachments and delusions; and it finally leads to understanding the truth about all things.”
It’s not a physical path
The Eight-fold Path is not a physical journey with a starting point or a destination. There are no steps to follow. Instead, the Path is a set of guidelines to keep in mind as you experience your life; it provides a set of questions to ask during each moment of our lives, such as:
- Am I holding the appropriate view given what I do and do not know?
- Is my intention appropriate?
- Are the words I’m using appropriate?
- Is the action I’m taking appropriate?
The eight-fold path is the fourth noble truth in action. It’s the path we can traverse in order to face the present moment as it presents itself. The Buddha taught that there was no need to wait for some promised future life when everything was bliss; instead, he taught that we can experience moments of bliss each and every day by traversing the eight-fold path.
Instead of a physical path, the eight-fold path is a daily self-examination with check-ins throughout the day; mindfulness in action.
Components of the Eight-Fold Path
- Appropriate views
- Appropriate intention
- Appropriate speech
- Appropriate action
- Appropriate livelihood
- Appropriate effort
- Appropriate mindfulness
- Appropriate meditation
Appropriate is often translated as right, but that implies there is an opposing reality and that’s problematic. For example, if we determine an action is right, then that implies there must be a wrong action, as well. This isn’t always the case and it’s an example of being open to only a partial understanding.
Appropriate views, actions, speech, etc., are those that place you in a position conducive to enlightenment.
Appropriate words and deeds are those that are consistent with those spoken and performed by those who dwell in the present moment, who are awake and aware of reality.