An excerpt from The Dhammapada for Awakening, available for free online reading here, or as a paperback and ebook here.
“Of paths the Eightfold one is best, and of truths the Fourfold. Dispassion is the best of mental states, and of human beings the best is the seer” (Dhammapada 273).
Thanissaro Bhikkhu: “Of paths, the eightfold is best. Of truths, the four sayings. Of qualities, dispassion. Of two-footed beings, the one with the eyes to see.”
The Eightfold Path of Buddha
The Eightfold Path was mentioned in verse one hundred ninety-one, but for some reason it did not occur to me to include it in the commentary. Now it should be, because many people may not have read an exposition of it or memorized it. (As a Buddhist nun once said: “If you like lists, then Buddhism is the religion for you.”) It is very important, because in the next verse Buddha declares that this is the only path to the purification that enables us to attain Nirvana.
The Eightfold Path consists of:
- Right View;
- Right Intention;
- Right Speech;
- Right Action;
- Right Livelihood;
- Right Effort;
- Right Mindfulness;
- Right Concentration.
All of these are interrelated to some extent.
1. Right View
View–drishti–literally means the faculty of sight, but also includes a person’s view, opinion, or perception of something, and is right view of the right thing, namely the way to live so as to lead to Nirvana. The trivia which occupy the minds of nearly every human being ultimately mean nothing, and Buddha is not concerned with that. Right view is the right evaluation of things as well as the right understanding of them.
Right view is seeing things as they really are, and knowing which matter and which do not. Naturally this includes a right response to right view, including the right way to live. It is obviously a function of the buddhi, the intelligence, and not the sensory mind or the emotions. The mind is like a mirror, and if there is any distortion of the mirror then all perceptions will be distorted. So Right View presupposes right condition of the mind. Each of the eight parts of the path is psychological, even if some of them include external modes of behavior.