Digest of terms
the Noble Eightfold Path is the Buddha's model prescription for treating the suffering he diagnosed as universally the human condition. It is his considered alternative - the Middle Way - to the extreme options of excessive physical pleasure or self-mortification. Its components are not sequential, but perfected conditions, each complete in itself. 1. Perfected view and understanding. This recognises the truth that suffering is an omnipresent feature in life (craving). Understanding this and the impermanence of everything (anicca) is the way forward. 2. Perfected thought and resolve. In place of striving to gratify the senses, there is generosity, goodwill and compassion for all others. 3. Perfected speech. This instead of lies and slurs; words of anger, malice or gossip.4. Perfected conduct and action. No harming of others (ahimsa). No thieving. No bodily distortions, arising from intoxicants and gambling. No sexual abuse - adultery, incest, rape and the like.5. Perfected employment and livelihood. This excludes any work which might harm others.6. Perfected effort. Avoiding and overcoming thoughts and inclinations that might generate bad karma (in Pali,kamma); developing and nurturing their opposite. 7. Perfected mindfulness. Heightened state of being alert and aware - building from awareness of breathing and bodily processes, and their transience; extending to rise and fall of feelings, flickerings in and out of consciousness, and mental distractions. 8. Perfected concentration. The unification of the mind in full focus.
The full eightfold path is sometimes condensed into the threefold path of morality, meditation, and insight (Buddhist ethics).