What Is the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism?

In my last article, I wrote about the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism which, in turn, urge monks to follow the Noble Eightfold Path. I recently found a very accessible and modern interpretation of this concept in the book titled 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness by Ven. Bhante Henelopa Gunaratana. He writes:

1. Skillful Understanding of the Buddha’s message requires that we understand skillful behavior in terms of cause and effect and the Four Noble Truths and how they fit into the overall scheme of the Buddha’s teachings.

2. Skillful Thinking introduces us to three positive thoughts — generosity or letting go, loving-friendliness, and compassion.

3. Skillful Speech explains how telling the truth and avoiding malicious talk, harsh language, and gossip can help us advance on the path.

4. Skillful Action lays out the principles for leading an ethical life — especially abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, and intoxication.

5. Skillful Livelihood explains why choosing an appropriate job or profession is important to our spiritual practice and how we should approach questions of business ethics.

6. Skillful Effort lays out four steps we can take to motivate our practice — preventing negative states of mind, overcoming negative states of mind, cultivating positive states of mind, and maintaining positive states of mind.

7. Skillful Mindfulness refers to the practice of mindfulness meditation — specifically, cultivating mindfulness of your body, feelings, mind, and thoughts.

8. Skillful Concentration refers to four stages of deep absorption we can reach in meditation.

If you need more information, listen to master Shi Heng Yi on the meaning of the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, courtesy of Mulligan Brothers.

I’m going to explore each step of the Noble Eightfold Path in my future articles. In the meantime, check out 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness and then revisit my articles on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, 5 Buddhist precepts, and 5 best Buddhism books for beginners.

Editor’s note: this article was updated and now features an interview with master Shi Heng Yi posted on Mulligan Brothers’ YouTube channel.

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