The “eightfold noble path” consists of eight elements: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Right view means to look at all things from the impartial perspective of the buddha without self-centered.
Right thought is considering things properly from a broader perspective without any prejudiced inclination toward one’s own standpoint. This entails casting aside the three evil of the mind, three unwholesome states of perceptive awareness, and in their place thinking about things with the magnanimous and benevolent mind of a buddha. Specifically, the three evils of the mind are greed, selfish desire for one’s own profit alone; anger, the rage experienced when things don’t turn out as one wants, and, as a result of the previous two, malice, a malevolent hostility toward others that arises from the selfish desire to have one’s own way in everything.
Right speech is speaking properly in our daily lives by avoiding the “four evils of the mouth”: lying, which means speaking falsely; divisive speech, or speaking duplicitously; harsh speech by saying unconstructive criticism or slanderous things about others; and frivolous speech, especially irresponsible talk, flattery or dissembling words.
Right action is daily conduct in accordance with Buddhist precepts that morally guide our behavior. Principally, this means living pure daily lives by refraining from the “three evils of the body”: killing, or taking animal or plant life unnecessarily or simply for pleasure; stealing; and irresponsible sexual conduct such as committing adultery.
Right livelihood is securing such necessities of life as clothing, food, shelter, in a proper way. This means refraining from earning our livelihood through work that causes trouble for others or vocations that are not socially edifying, and alternatively, living on a justifiable income obtained through decent, upright work and careers that benefit others in society.
Right effort is consistently engaging in proper conduct without indolence or straying from the proper Way, never wasting one’s energy on idle diversions, and avoiding all manner of unwholesome behavior such as the “three evils of the mind,” “four evils of the mouth,” and “three evils of the body” mentioned above.
Right mindfulness means to practice the way with the same mind as the Buddha that is always oriented toward what is right. It is especially important to recognize that we cannot attain the same right mind as the Buddha unless we have a proper attitude towards not only ourselves but other people as well, and still further, toward all phenomena and events. If we care only about ourselves being right in mind, moreover, we will only end up socially isolated, stubborn and smug people. Consequently, we cannot make the Buddha’s mind our own until we have a proper impartial mind toward all things in existence.
Right concentration is firmly grasping the Buddha’s teachings with unshakable faith, so that the changes in the world around us never disturb our composure. In effect, this means practicing the proper dharma of the Buddha with complete consistency through thick and thin.
“Right mindfulness” means to practice with a right mind as the Buddha did. It cannot be truly said that we have the same mind as the Buddha unless we have a right mind not only toward ourselves but also toward others, and still further, toward all things. If we hope that only we ourselves may be right, we will become stubborn and self-satisfied people who are alienated from the world. We cannot say we have the same mind as the Buddha unless we address ourselves to all things in the universe with a fair and right mind.
“Right concentration” means always to determine to believe in the teachings of the Buddha and not to be agitated by any change of circumstances. This teaches us to practice consistently the right teaching of the Buddha.
Taken altogether, the doctrine of the Eightfold Path is the teaching that shows us the right way to live our daily lives.
- Right View: Looking at things properly without egoistic or biases perspectives.
- Right Thought: Thinking with a magnanimous and benevolent heart and abandoning the “the three evil minds” (greed, anger and wayward mind).
- Right Speech: Proper use of language by refraining from the “four evils of the mouth” (lying, divisive speech, harsh speech and frivolous speech).
- Right Conduct: Proper behavior absent the three evil acts of the body (killing, stealing, and irresponsible sexual conduct).
- Right Livelihood: Securing clothing, food, shelter, and other necessities of life through proper means.
- Right Effort: Constant and persistent effort towards a proper calling or goal.
- Right Mindfulness: Maintaining a proper state of mind and keeping our attention focused on the proper things.
- Right Concentration: Always maintaining a proper state of mind and retaining our composure in the face of the changing world around us.