Buddhism is a journey for happiness. To be Liberated – to be free – To be Enlightened – is to know – to be free from conventions and to have knowledge of how you freed oneself to have knowledge of the Way to Liberated one’s mind to abiding happiness – peace of mind.
Within the Fourth Noble Truths is found the guide to the end of suffering: the Noble Eightfold Path. The eight parts of the path to liberation are grouped into three essential elements of Buddhist practice—moral conduct, mental discipline, and wisdom.
The Buddha taught the Eightfold Path in virtually all his discourses, and his directions are as clear and practical to his followers today as they were when he first gave them.
The Noble Eightfold Path:
- Right Understanding (Samma ditthi)
- Right Thought (Samma sankappa)
- Right Speech (Samma vaca)
- Right Action (Samma kammanta)
- Right Livelihood (Samma ajiva)
- Right Effort (Samma vayama)
- Right Mindfulness (Samma sati)
- Right Concentration (Samma samadhi)
These eight factors aim at promoting and perfecting the three essentials of Buddhist training and discipline: namely: (a) Ethical Conduct (Sila), (b) Mental Discipline (Samadhi) and (c) Wisdom (Panna).
It will therefore be more helpful for a coherent and better understanding of the eight divisions of the Path if we group them and explain them according to these three heads.
Ethical Conduct Ethical Conduct (Sila) is built on the vast conception of universal love and compassion for all living beings, on which the Buddha’s teaching is based. It is regrettable that many scholars forget this great ideal of the Buddha’s teaching, and indulge in only dry philosophical and metaphysical divagations when they talk and write about Buddhism.
The Buddha gave his teaching “for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world.” According to Buddhism, for a man to be perfect there are two qualities that he should develop equally:
Compassion (karuna) on one side, and Wisdom (panna) on the other. Here compassion represents love, charity, kindness, tolerance and such noble qualities on the emotional side, or qualities of the heart, while wisdom would stand for the intellectual side or the qualities of the mind.
If one develops only the emotional, neglecting the intellectual, one may become a good-hearted fool; while to develop only the intellectual side [and] neglecting the emotional may turn one into a hard-hearted intellect without feeling for others.
Therefore, to be perfect one has to develop both equally. That is the aim of the Buddhist way of life: in it wisdom and compassion are inseparably linked together, as we shall see later. Now, in Ethical Conduct (Sila), based on love and compassion, are included three factors of the Noble Eightfold Path: namely, Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood.