Wisdom (paññā) III.
- 1. Right view (sammā-ditthi)
- 2. Right thought (sammā-sankappa)
Morality (sīla) I.
- 3. Right speech (sammā-vācā)
- 4. Right bodily action (sammā-kammanta)
- 5. Right livelihood (sammā-ājīva)
Concentration (samādhi) II.
- 6. Right effort (sammā-vāyāma)
- 7. Right mindfulness (sammā-sati)
- 8. Right concentration (sammā-samādhi)
Right view or right understanding (sammā-ditthi) is the understanding of the 4 Noble Truths about the universality of suffering (unsatisfactoriness), of its origin, its cessation, and the path leading to that cessation. - See the Discourse on 'Right Understanding' (M. 9, tr. and Com. in 'R. Und.').
Right thought (sammā-sankappa): thoughts free from sensuous desire, from ill-will, and cruelty.
Right speech (sammā-vācā): abstaining from lying, tale-bearing, harsh language, and foolish babble.
Right bodily action (sammā-kammanta): abstaining from killing, stealing, and unlawful sexual intercourse.
Right livelihood (sammā-ājīva): abstaining from a livelihood that brings harm to other beings, such as trading in arms, in living beings, intoxicating drinks, poison; slaughtering, fishing, soldiering, deceit, treachery soothsaying, trickery, usury, etc.
Right effort (sammā-vāyāma): the effort of avoiding or overcoming evil and unwholesome things, and of developing and maintaining wholesome things (s. padhāna).
Right mindfulness (sammā-sati): mindfulness and awareness in contemplating body, feelings, mind, and mind-objects (s. sati, satipatthāna).
Right concentration (sammā-samādhi): concentration of mind associated with wholesome (kusala) consciousness, which eventually may reach the absorptions (jhāna). Cf. samādhi.
There are to be distinguished 2 kinds of concentration, mundane (lokiya) and supermundane (lokuttara) concentration. The latter is associated with those states of consciousness known as the 4 supermundane paths and fruitions (s. ariya-puggala). As it is said in M.117:
"I tell you, o monks, there are 2 kinds of right view: the understanding that it is good to give alms and offerings, that both good and evil actions will bear fruit and will be followed by results.... This, o monks, is a view which, though still subject to the cankers, is meritorious, yields worldly fruits, and brings good results. But whatever there is of wisdom, of penetration, of right view conjoined with the path - the holy path being pursued, this is called the supermundane right view (lokuttara-sammā-ditthi), which is not of the world, but which is supermundane and conjoined with the path."
In a similar way the remaining links of the path are to be understood.
As many of those who have written about the Eightfold Path have misunderstood its true nature, it is therefore appropriate to add here a few elucidating remarks about it, as this path is fundamental for the understanding and practice of the Buddha's teaching.
First of all, the figurative expression 'path' should not be interpreted to mean that one has to advance step by step in the sequence of the enumeration until, after successively passing through all the eight stages, one finally may reach one's destination, Nibbāna. If this really were the case, one should have realized, first of all, right view and penetration of the truth, even before one could hope to proceed to the next steps, right thought and right speech; and each preceding stage would be the indispensable foundation and condition for each succeeding stage. In reality, however, the links 3-5 constituting moral training (sīla), are the first 3 links to be cultivated, then the links 6-8 constituting mental training (samādhi), and at last right view, etc. constituting wisdom (paññā).
It is, however, true that a really unshakable and safe foundation to the path is provided only by right view which, starting from the tiniest germ of faith and knowledge, gradually, step by step, develops into penetrating insight (vipassanā) and thus forms the immediate condition for the entrance into the 4 supermundane paths and fruits of holiness, and for the realization of Nibbāna. Only with regard to this highest form of supermundane insight, may we indeed say that all the remaining links of the path are nothing but the outcome and the accompaniments of right view.
Regarding the mundane (lokiya) eightfold path, however, its links may arise without the first link, right view.
Here it must also be emphasized that the links of the path not only do not arise one after the other, as already indicated, but also that they, at least in part, arise simultaneously as inseparably associated mental factors in one and the same state of consciousness. Thus, for instance, under all circumstances at least 4 links are inseparably bound up with any karmically wholesome consciousness, namely 2, 6, 7 and 8, i.e. right thought, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration (M. 117), so that as soon as any one of these links arises, the three others also do so. On the other hand, right view is not necessarily present in every wholesome state of consciousness.
Magga is one of the 24 conditions (s. paccaya 18).