Noble eightfold path
The noble eightfold path (Skt. āryāṣṭāṅgamārga; Pal. ariyāṭṭhaṅgikamagga; Tib. འཕགས་པའི་ལམ་ཡན་ལག་བརྒྱད་པ་, pakpé lam yenlak gyépa, Wyl. ‘phags pa’i lam yan lag brgyad pa) was taught by Buddha Shakyamuni in his very first teaching of the Four Truths of the Noble Ones and pertains to the truth of the path. It also belongs to the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment and is practised on the path of meditation. It consists of:
- correct view (Skt. samyagdṛṣṭi; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་ལྟ་བ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i lta ba)
- correct intention (or thought) (Skt. samyaksaṅkalpa; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་རྟོག་པ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i rtog pa)
- correct speech (Skt. samyagvāc; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་ངག་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i ngag)
- correct action (or conduct) (Skt. samyakkarmānta; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་ལས་ཀྱི་མཐའ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i las kyi mtha')
- correct livelihood (Skt. samyagājīva; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་འཚོ་བ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i 'tsho ba)
- correct effort (Skt. samyagvyāyāma; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་རྩོལ་བ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i rtsol ba)
- correct mindfulness (Skt. samyaksmṛti; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་དྲན་པ་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i dran pa)
- correct concentration (Skt. samyaksamādhi; Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་ཏིང་ངེ་འཛིན་, Wyl. yang dag pa'i ting nge 'dzin)
The Sutra of the Ten Bhumis says:
- "One trains in correct view, remaining in isolation, remaining free from attachment, remaining in cessation and meditating on complete transformation through abandonment. It is the same for correct intention, correct speech, correct action, correct livelihood, correct effort, correct mindfulness and correct concentration."
Khenpo Namdrol explains:
- "The noble eightfold path pertains to the post-meditation of the path of meditation.
- "Correct view is the fully eliminating branch because it eliminates all the opposing factors. Correct thinking is the branch that enables understanding of the view. Correct speech, action and livelihood are the branches that inspire faith in others. Correct speech is the means by which one communicates one’s own understanding to others, inspiring them with faith. Correct action, referring to the forsaking of the negative actions such as killing, is a means to inspire others through one’s own diligence. Correct livelihood means inspiring others through having few desires. Correct effort, mindfulness and samadhi are antidotes. Correct effort is the antidote to the root emotional obscurations to be abandoned through the path of meditation. Correct mindfulness is the antidote to the subsidiary emotional obscurations to be abandoned through the path of meditation. Correct samadhi is the antidote to samadhi’s opposing factors."
Related to the Three Training
When related to the three trainings, correct view and thinking correspond to the training in wisdom, correct speech, action and livelihood to the training in discipline, and effort, mindfulness and concentration to the training in meditation.
Meaning of the Term
In the same way that the Four Noble Truths can be more accurately described as Four Realities of the Aryas, it would be more accurate to call the Noble Eightfold Path the Eightfold Path of the Aryas or the Eightfold Path of the Noble Ones, as 'noble' refers to those who follow the path, and, in this case, not to the path itself.
The eight are often translated as 'right view', 'right intention' and so on. B. Alan Wallace and Robert Thurman have suggested that a more accurate translation would be 'realistic view', 'realistic intention', etc.
Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha
- Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, France, 10 August 1996
- Ato Rinpoche, Paris, France, 11-12 December 1999
- Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Dzogchen Beara, Ireland, 2-3 June 2002
- Samdhong Rinpoche, Lerab Ling, France, 30 August 2012
- Philippe Cornu, Manuel de bouddhisme — Philosophie, pratique et histoire. Tome I, Bouddhisme ancien et Theravāda (Editions Rangdröl, 2019), pages 83-86.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching (Rider, 1999), 'Part Two: The Noble Eightfold Path', pages 51-120.