Chapter 17. The Noble Eightfold Path
THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
qualification to heaven is a ‘heart of gold.’
The qualification to Nirvanic goal is the
‘Noble Eightfold Path.’
As the very goal of Buddhism is the Righteous Paths & Fruitions (Magga & Phala) which consequently lead to the attainment of Nirvana, the Noble Eightfold Path is the heart of Buddhist teaching in the role of Righteous Paths for everyone to implement in order to achieve different level of Fruitions until reaching the ultimate Nirvana which is the promising state of true, pure, and permanent bliss.
To explain the Noble Eightfold Path in details, we can see from the diagram of the Interrelationship between Core Value of Buddhism, the Threefold Training, and the Noble Eightfold Path that the Noble Eightfold Path is the sub-category of the Threefold Training which comprises of (A) Moral Discipline or Sila (B) Mental Concentration or Samadhi, and (C) Wisdom or Panna, whereas the Threefold Training grows from only one core value of Buddhism which is the Righteous Practice or Righteousness. Altogether, they can also be reclassified as (I) The Right Mind (II) The Right Speech, and (III) The Right Action.
The Noble Eightfold Path as the sub-category of the Threefold Training can be listed as follows:
(1) Right View (2) Right Intention
(3) Right Speech (4) Right Action (5) Right Livelihood
(6) Right Effort (7) Right Mindfulness (8) Right Mental Unification
To clarify the Noble Eightfold Path, it can be expressed into two dimensions which are (1) the aspect of doctrinal practice, and (2) the mental meditative quality.
Firstly, the practice aspect allows us to understand the Noble Eightfold Path as the doctrine that teaches Buddhist practitioners to implement and live a righteous life. This begins from one’s mind having (i) the Right View which grows into (ii) Right Intention. Thus, the Right View and Right Intention develop oneself to furtherly have (iii) Right Speech, (iv) Right Action, and (v) Right Livelihood. Based on these practical foundations, one can prosper one’s mind to have (vi) Right Effort, (vii) Right Mindfulness, and (viii) Right Mental Unification, respectively. These are the consecutive implementation of doctrine putting into practice as the causes in order to yield the effects in the form of wholesome righteous life with an aim for enlightenment and the Nirvana.
Secondly, the mental meditative quality aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path means the qualities of one’s mind which occur in meditation. It all starts with (a) Sphere of Moral Discipline which comprises of (a1) Right Speech (a2) Right Action, and (a3) Right Livelihood. In the same manner, after experiencing the meditative quality of Moral Discipline, we continue further in the Middle Path to experience the (b) Sphere of Mental Concentration which comprises of (b1) Right Effort (balanced effort) (b2) Right Mindfulness, and (b3) Right Mental Unification. Then, we continue to experience (c) Sphere of Wisdom which comprises of (c1) Right View and (c2) Right Intention, respectively.
In meditation, these are the states of mind or mental qualities which can be seen in the form of transcendental spheres [referring to the mental sphere in the Abhidhamma] which we can ‘experience the taste of Dhamma or virtue.’ As we practice meditation by proceeding our mind through ‘the Middle Path,’ we will pass through these transcendental spheres of virtues or states of mind, where our mind will be purified, refined, and empowered further similar to water that passes through a water purifier. Moreover, these transcendental spheres of virtue are the source of our virtue energy. For example, the sphere of Moral Discipline empowers the morality in our human mind resulting us to think, speak, and act morally.
By the end of this process, we will achieve liberation and the realization of liberation which enables us to achieve fruition or enlightenment, from lower to higher level. We can see that the two different aspects are explained differently as the practical aspect explains the Noble Eightfold Path by starting from the Right View which originates in one’s mind and grows into speech, action, and mental states whereas the meditative quality aspect is all about mental states in meditation which one can experience.
However, this progressing in the Magga or Paths until reaching Phala or Fruitions can be made possible only with the fulfilled accumulated and cultivated merit as shown in the Dhammonomic equation below:
Fruition of Enlightenment =
(Completion of the Noble Eightfold Path) x (Fulfillment of Accumulated & Cultivated Merit)
According to the above equation, we can see that the practice of Noble Eightfold Path alone cannot yield fruition of enlightenment if one has not accumulated and cultivated enough merit (pursuit of perfections). This is the reason why some Buddhist practitioners or meditation practitioners can proceed into the meditative Middle Path but unable to attain any fruition or enlightenment. Therefore, in regard of enlightenment, there are many other contributing factors that we should take into account other than the Noble Eightfold Path alone.
Buddhivilization means the ideal human society where most people implement the Noble Eightfold Path which eventually leads to the balanced worldly & spiritual living.
By Pittaya Wong
8 August 2018