the practical buddhist : essentials

the eight-fold path

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Excerpted from my book, The Practical Buddhist: Buddhism Without the Robes & Ritual

“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.”

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?

Components of the Eight-Fold Path

  1. Appropriate views
  2. Appropriate intention
  3. Appropriate speech
  4. Appropriate action
  5. Appropriate livelihood
  6. Appropriate effort
  7. Appropriate mindfulness
  8. Appropriate meditation

Appropriate is often translated as ‘right,’ but that implies there is an opposite 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.