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These Wisdoms of Buddha

aims at contributing towards

a proper understanding of the Noble Eightfold Path

by investigating its eight factors and their components

to determine exactly what they involve.


The essence of the Buddha’s teaching

can be summed up in two principles:

The Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

The first covers the side of doctrine,

and the primary response it elicits is understanding;

the second covers the side of discipline,

in the broadest sense of that word,

and the primary response it calls for is practice.


 In the structure of the teaching these two principles lock together into

an indivisible unity called the dhamma-vinaya,

the doctrine-and-discipline,

 or, in brief, the Dharma.


The internal unity of the Dharma is guaranteed by the fact that

the last of the Four Noble Truths, the truth of the way,

is the Noble Eightfold Path,

while the first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, right view,

 is the understanding of the Four Noble Truths.


the two principles penetrate and include one another,

the formula of the Four Noble Truths containing the Eightfold Path

and the Noble Eightfold Path containing the Four Truths.


Given this integral unity, it would be pointless to pose the question

 which of the two aspects of the Dhamma has greater value,

the doctrine or the path.


 if we did risk the pointless by asking that question,

the answer would have to be

the path.


The path claims primacy because

it is precisely this that brings the teaching to life.

The path translates the Dhamma from

a collection of abstract formulas

into a continually unfolding disclosure of truth.

 It gives an outlet from the problem of suffering

with which the teaching starts.

And it makes the teaching’s goal,

 liberation from suffering,

accessible to us in our own experience,

where alone it takes on authentic meaning.


To follow the Noble Eightfold Path is a matter of practice

rather than intellectual knowledge,

but to apply the path correctly it has to be properly understood.

In fact,

right understanding of the path is itself a part of the practice.

It is a facet of right view, the first path factor,

the forerunner and guide for the rest of the path.


though initial enthusiasm might suggest that the task of

intellectual comprehension may be shelved as

a bothersome distraction,

mature consideration reveals it to be quite essential

to ultimate success in the practice.


This current series of Zenfully cool quotes aims at

 contributing towards a proper understanding of

the Noble Eightfold Path by investigating its eight factors

and their components to determine exactly what they involve.

For full commitment to the practice of the path,


especially in its advanced stages of concentration and insight,

it will be extremely helpful to have contact with

 a properly qualified teacher.


For those with a higher sense of Consciousness and limited time…

Just consider these basic Highlights of

Buddha’s 8 Fold Path.


Question your motivations based on striving for a Right:

View, Intension,  Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort,

 Mindfulness, and Concentration.



The search for a spiritual path is born out of suffering.

 It does not start with lights and ecstasy,

 but with the hard tacks

of pain, disappointment, and confusion.


 for suffering to give birth to a genuine spiritual search,

it must amount to more than something passively received from without.

It has to trigger an inner realization,

a perception which pierces through the facile complacency of our

usual encounter with the world to glimpse the insecurity

perpetually gaping underfoot.


When this insight dawns, even if only momentarily,

 it can precipitate a profound personal crisis.

 It overturns accustomed goals and values,

mocks our routine preoccupations,

leaves old enjoyments stubbornly unsatisfying.


At first such changes generally are not welcome.

We try to deny our vision and to smother our doubts;

 we struggle to drive away the discontent with new pursuits.


 the flame of inquiry, once lit, continues to burn,

and if we do not let ourselves be swept away by superficial readjustments

or slouch back into a patched up version of our natural optimism,

eventually the original glimmering of insight will again flare up,

again confront us with our essential plight.


 It is precisely at that point,

with all escape routes blocked, that we are ready to seek a way

 to bring our disquietude to an end.

No longer can we continue to drift complacently through life,

 driven blindly by our hunger for sense pleasures

and by the pressure of prevailing social norms.


A deeper reality beckons us;

we have heard the call of a more stable, more authentic happiness,

and until we arrive at our destination we cannot rest content.


it is just then that we find ourselves facing a new difficulty.

Once we come to recognize the need for a spiritual path

we discover that spiritual teachings are by no means

 homogeneous and mutually compatible.


When we browse through the shelves of

humanity’s spiritual heritage, both ancient and contemporary,

 we do not find a single tidy volume

but a

veritable bazaar of spiritual systems and disciplines

each offering themselves to us as the highest, the fastest,

the most powerful, or

 the most profound solution to our quest for the Ultimate.


Confronted with this mélange, we fall into confusion

trying to size them up —

to decide which is truly liberative, a real solution to our needs,

and which is a sidetrack beset with hidden flaws.


One approach to resolving this problem that is popular today

 is the eclectic one:

to pick and choose from the various traditions

whatever seems amenable to our needs,

welding together different practices and techniques

into a synthetic whole that is personally satisfying.

Thus one may combine Buddhist mindfulness meditation

with sessions of Hindu mantra recitation,

Christian prayer with Sufi dancing,

Jewish Kabbala with Tibetan visualization exercises.



however, though sometimes helpful in

making a transition from a predominantly

 worldly and materialistic way of life

to one that takes on a spiritual hue, eventually wears thin.


While it makes a comfortable halfway house,

it is not comfortable as a final vehicle.

There are two interrelated flaws in eclecticism

that account for its ultimate inadequacy.

One is that eclecticism compromises the very traditions it draws upon.


The great spiritual traditions themselves do not propose their disciplines

as independent techniques that may be excised from their setting

and freely recombined to enhance the felt quality of our lives.

They present them, rather, as parts of an integral whole,

of a coherent vision regarding the fundamental nature of reality

and the final goal of the spiritual quest.


A spiritual tradition is not a shallow stream in which one can wet one’s feet

 and then beat a quick retreat to the shore.

It is a mighty, tumultuous river which would

 rush through the entire landscape of one’s life, and if one truly wishes

to travel on it, one must be courageous enough to launch one’s boat

and head out for the depths.


The second defect in eclecticism follows from the first.

As spiritual practices are built upon visions regarding

 the nature of reality and the final good,

these visions are not mutually compatible.


When we honestly examine the teachings of these traditions,

we will find that major differences in perspective

reveal themselves to our sight, differences which

 cannot be easily dismissed as alternative ways of saying the same thing.


they point to very different experiences constituting the supreme goal

and the path that must be trodden to reach that goal.


because of the differences in perspectives and practices

that the different spiritual traditions propose,

once we decide that we have outgrown eclecticism

and feel that we are ready to make a serious commitment

to one particular path, we find ourselves

confronted with the challenge of choosing a path t

hat will lead us to true enlightenment and liberation.


One cue to resolving this dilemma is to clarify to ourselves

our fundamental aim, to determine

what we seek in a genuinely liberative path.

If we reflect carefully, it will become clear that the prime requirement

is a way to the end of suffering.


All problems ultimately can be reduced to the problem of suffering;


what we need is a way that will end this problem finally and completely.


Both these qualifying words are important.

The path has to lead to a complete end of suffering,

to an end of suffering in all its forms, and to a final end of suffering,

to bring suffering to an irreversible stop.


 here we run up against another question.

How are we to find such a path —

a path which has the capacity to

 lead us to the full and final end of suffering?


 Until we actually follow a path to its goal

we cannot know with certainty where it leads,

and in order to follow a path to its goal

we must place complete trust in the efficacy of the path.


The pursuit of a spiritual path is not like selecting a new suit of clothes.

To select a new suit one need only try on a number of suits,

inspect oneself in the mirror, and

select the suit in which one appears most attractive.


The choice of a spiritual path is closer to marriage:

one wants a partner for life,

one whose companionship will prove as trustworthy and durable

as the pole star in the night sky.


Faced with this new dilemma, we may think that we have

 reached a dead end and conclude that we have nothing to guide us

but personal inclination, if not a flip of the coin.


our selection need not be as blind and uninformed as we imagine,

for we do have a guideline to help us.

Since spiritual paths are generally presented in the framework

of a total teaching, we can evaluate the effectiveness of any particular path

by investigating the teaching which expounds it.

In making this investigation we can look to three criteria

 as standards for evaluation:


the teaching has to give a full and accurate picture of the range of suffering.

If the picture of suffering it gives is incomplete or defective,

 then the path it sets forth will most likely be flawed,

unable to yield a satisfactory solution.


Just as an ailing patient needs a doctor who can make

a full and correct diagnosis of his illness,

so in seeking release from suffering we need

a teaching that presents a reliable account of our condition.


The second criterion calls for

a correct analysis of the causes giving rise to suffering.

 The teaching cannot stop with a survey of the outward symptoms.

It has to penetrate beneath the symptoms to the level of causes,

and to describe those causes accurately.


If a teaching makes a faulty causal analysis, there is little likelihood

 that its treatment will succeed.


The third criterion pertains directly to the path itself.

 It stipulates that the path which the teaching offers

has to remove suffering at its source.

This means it must provide a method to cut off suffering

by eradicating its causes.


If it fails to bring about this root-level solution, its value is ultimately nil.

The path it prescribes might help to remove symptoms

 and make us feel that all is well;

 but one afflicted with a fatal disease cannot afford to

 settle for cosmetic surgery when below the surface

 the cause of his malady continues to thrive.


To sum up,

we find three requirements for a teaching proposing to offer

a true path to the end of suffering:


It has to set forth a full and accurate picture

of the range of suffering;


It must present a correct analysis of the causes of suffering;

and third,

It must give us the means to eradicate the causes of suffering.


This is not the place to evaluate the various spiritual disciplines

in terms of these criteria.

 Our concern is only with the Dhamma,

 the teaching of the Buddha, and with the solution this teaching

offers to the problem of suffering.

That the teaching should be relevant to this problem

is evident from its very nature;

 for it is formulated, not as a set of doctrines about the origin

and end of things commanding belief, but

as a message of deliverance from suffering claiming to be

verifiable in our own experience.


Along with that message there comes a method of practice,

a way leading to the end of suffering.

This way is the Noble Eightfold Path (ariya atthangika magga).


The Eightfold Path stands at the very heart of the Buddha’s teaching.

It was the discovery of the path that gave the Buddha’s own enlightenment

 a universal significance and elevated him from the status of

a wise and benevolent sage to that of a world teacher.


To his own disciples, he was pre-eminently

“the arouser of the path unarisen before,

 the producer of the path not produced before,

 the declarer of the path not declared before,

the knower of the path, the seer of the path,

the guide along the path”.


And he himself invites the seeker with the promise and challenge:

“You yourselves must strive.

The Buddhas are only teachers.

The meditative ones who practice the path

are released from the bonds of evil” (Dhp. v. 276).

( the apparent evil in the form of the unnecessary mental pain and suffering

 we often put upon ourselves.)

To see the Noble Eightfold Path as a viable vehicle to liberation,

 we have to check it out against our three criteria:

to look at the Buddha’s account of the range of suffering,

his analysis of its causes,

and the program he offers as a remedy.


The Buddha does not merely touch the problem of suffering tangentially;

he makes it, rather, the very cornerstone of his teaching.

He starts the Four Noble Truths that sum up his message

with the announcement that life is inseparably tied to

something he calls dukkha.


The Pali word is often translated as suffering,

but it means something deeper than pain and misery.


It refers to a basic unsatisfactoriness running through our lives,

 the lives of all but the enlightened.

Sometimes this unsatisfactoriness erupts into the open as

sorrow, grief, disappointment, or despair;

 but usually it hovers at the edge of our awareness as a

vague unlocalized sense that things are never quite perfect,

never fully adequate to our expectations of what they should be.


This fact of dukkha, the Buddha says, is the only real spiritual problem.

The other problems — the theological and metaphysical questions

that have taunted religious thinkers through the centuries —

he gently waves aside as “matters not tending to liberation.”


What he teaches, he says,

is just suffering and the ending of suffering, dukkha and its cessation.


The Buddha does not stop with generalities.

 He goes on to expose the different forms that dukkha takes,

both the evident and the subtle. He starts with what is close at hand,

with the suffering inherent in the physical process of life itself.

Here dukkha shows up in the events of birth, aging, and death,

 in our susceptibility to sickness, accidents, and injuries,

even in hunger and thirst.


 It appears again in our inner reactions to disagreeable situations and events:

 in the sorrow, anger, frustration, and fear aroused by painful separations,

by unpleasant encounters, by the failure to get what we want.


Even our pleasures, the Buddha says, are not immune from dukkha.

They give us happiness while they last, but they do not last forever;

eventually they must pass away, and when they go

 the loss leaves us feeling deprived.


 Our lives, for the most part, are strung out between the thirst for pleasure

 and the fear of pain.

 We pass our days running after the one

and running away from the other,

seldom enjoying the peace of contentment;

real satisfaction seems somehow always out of reach,

just beyond the next horizon.


Then in the end we have to die:

to give up the identity we spent our whole life building,

to leave behind everything and everyone we love.


But even death, the Buddha teaches, does not bring us to the end of dukkha,

for the life process does not stop with death.


When life ends in one place, with one body, the “mental continuum,”

the individual stream of consciousness, springs up again elsewhere

with a new body as its physical support.


Thus the cycle goes on over and over — birth, aging, and death —

 driven by the thirst for more existence.


The Buddha declares that this round of rebirths — called samsara,

“the wandering” — has been turning through beginningless time.


It is without a first point,

without temporal origin.

No matter how far back in time we go we always find living beings —

ourselves in previous lives —

wandering from one state of existence to another.


The Buddha describes various realms where rebirth can take place:

 realms of torment, the animal realm, the human realm,

realms of celestial bliss.

 But none of these realms can offer a final refuge.


Life in any plane must come to an end.

It is impermanent and thus marked with that insecurity

which is the deepest meaning of dukkha.

For this reason one aspiring to the complete end of dukkha

 cannot rest content with any mundane achievement, with any status,

 but must win emancipation from the entire unstable whirl.

A teaching proposing to lead to the end of suffering must,

 as we said, give a reliable account of its causal origination.

For if we want to put a stop to suffering,

we have to stop it where it begins, with its causes.


To stop the causes requires a thorough knowledge of

what they are and how they work;


 the Buddha devotes a sizeable section of his teaching to laying bare

“the truth of the origin of dukkha.”


The origin he locates within ourselves, in a fundamental malady

 that permeates our being, causing disorder in our own minds

and vitiating our relationships with others and with the world.

The sign of this malady can be seen in our proclivity to certain

unwholesome mental states called in Pali kilesas,

usually translated “defilements.”


The most basic defilements are the triad of greed, aversion, and delusion.

 Greed (lobha) is self-centered desire:

the desire for pleasure and possessions, the drive for survival,

the urge to bolster the sense of ego with power, status, and prestige.


 Aversion (dosa) signifies the response of negation, expressed as

rejection, irritation, condemnation, hatred,

enmity, anger, and violence.


Delusion (moha) means mental darkness:

the thick coat of insensitivity which blocks out clear understanding.


From these three roots emerge the various other defilements —

conceit, jealousy, ambition, lethargy, arrogance, and the rest —

and from all these defilements together, the roots and the branches,

comes dukkha in its diverse forms:

as pain and sorrow, as fear and discontent,

as the aimless drifting through the round of birth and death.

To gain freedom from suffering, therefore,

we have to eliminate the defilements.

 But the work of removing the defilements

has to proceed in a methodical way.

It cannot be accomplished simply by an act of will…

 by wanting them to go away.


The work must be guided by investigation.

We have to find out what the defilements depend upon

and then see how it lies within our power to remove their support.


The Buddha teaches that there is one defilement

which gives rise to all the others,

one root which holds them all in place.


This root is ignorance (avijja).

 Ignorance is not mere absence of knowledge,

a lack of knowing particular pieces of information.

 Ignorance can co-exist with a vast accumulation of itemized knowledge,

and in its own way it can be tremendously shrewd and resourceful.

 As the basic root of dukkha,

ignorance is a fundamental darkness shrouding the mind.


Sometimes this ignorance operates in a passive manner,

merely obscuring correct understanding.


At other times it takes on an active role:

 it becomes the great deceiver, conjuring up a mass of distorted perceptions

and conceptions which the mind grasps as attributes of the world,

unaware that they are its own deluded constructs.


In these erroneous perceptions and ideas we find

the soil that nurtures the defilements.

The mind catches sight of some possibility of pleasure,

accepts it at face value, and the result is greed.

 Our hunger for gratification is thwarted, obstacles appear,

 and up spring anger and aversion. Or

 we struggle over ambiguities, our sight clouds,

and we become lost in delusion.

With this

we discover the breeding ground of dukkha:

ignorance issuing in the defilements, the defilements issuing in suffering.

 As long as this causal matrix stands we are not yet beyond danger.


We might still find pleasure and enjoyment —

sense pleasures, social pleasures, pleasures of the mind and heart.


no matter how much pleasure we might experience,

no matter how successful we might be at dodging pain,

the basic problem remains at the core of our being

and we continue to move within the bounds of dukkha.

“delusion” (moha).

When the Buddha speaks in a psychological context

about mental factors, he generally uses the word


 when he speaks about the causal basis of samsara,

he uses the word “ignorance” (avijja).


To free ourselves from suffering fully and finally

we have to eliminate it by the root,

 and that means to eliminate ignorance.


 how does one go about eliminating ignorance?

The answer follows clearly from the nature of the adversary.

Since ignorance

is a state of not knowing things as they really are,

what is needed is knowledge of things as they really are.

 Not merely conceptual knowledge, knowledge as idea,

but perceptual knowledge, a knowing which is also a seeing.


 This kind of knowing is called wisdom (pañña).

Wisdom helps to correct the distorting work of ignorance.

It enables us to grasp things as they are in actuality, directly

and immediately, free from the screen of ideas, views,

and assumptions our minds ordinarily set up

between themselves and the real.


To eliminate ignorance we need wisdom,

but how is wisdom to be acquired?


 As indubitable knowledge of the ultimate nature of things,

 wisdom cannot be gained by mere learning,

by gathering and accumulating a battery of facts.

However, the Buddha says,

Wisdom can be cultivated.

It comes into being through a set of conditions,

conditions which we have the power to develop.


These conditions are actually mental factors,

 components of consciousness,

which fit together into a systematic structure that can be called

a path in the word’s essential meaning:

a course-way for movement leading to a goal.


The goal here is the end of suffering,

and the path leading to it is the Noble Eightfold Path

with its eight factors:

right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood,

right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.


The Buddha calls this path the middle way (majjhima patipada).

It is the middle way because it steers clear of two extremes,

 two misguided attempts to gain release from suffering.


One is the extreme of indulgence in sense pleasures,

 the attempt to extinguish dissatisfaction by gratifying desire.

This approach gives pleasure, but the enjoyment won is

gross, transitory, and devoid of deep contentment.


The Buddha recognized that sensual desire

can exercise a tight grip over the minds of human beings,

and he was keenly aware of how ardently attached

people become to the pleasures of the senses.


 he also knew that this pleasure is far inferior to the happiness

that arises from renunciation, and therefore he repeatedly taught

that the way to the Ultimate eventually requires

the relinquishment of sensual desire.


the Buddha describes the indulgence in sense pleasures as

“low, common, worldly, ignoble, not leading to the goal.”


The other extreme is the practice of self-mortification,

 the attempt to gain liberation by afflicting the body. T

his approach may stem from a genuine aspiration for deliverance,


it works within the compass of a wrong assumption

 that renders the energy expended barren of results.


The error is taking the body to be the cause of bondage,

when the real source of trouble lies in the mind —

the mind obsessed by greed, aversion, and delusion.


To rid the mind of these defilements

the affliction of the body is not only useless but self-defeating,

for it is the impairment of a necessary instrument.


the Buddha describes this second extreme as

 “painful, ignoble, not leading to the goal.”


Aloof from these two extreme approaches is the Noble Eightfold Path,

called the middle way, not in the sense that

 it effects a compromise between the extremes,


in the sense that it transcends them both

by avoiding the errors that each involves.


The path avoids the extreme of sense indulgence

by its recognition of the futility of desire

and its stress on renunciation.


Desire and sensuality, far from being means to happiness,

are springs of suffering to be abandoned as the requisite of deliverance.


the practice of renunciation does not entail

the tormenting of the body.

It consists in mental training, and for this the body must be fit,

a sturdy support for the inward work.


the body is to be looked after well, kept in good health,

while the mental faculties are trained to generate the liberating wisdom.

That is the middle way, the Noble Eightfold Path,

 which “gives rise to vision, gives rise to knowledge, and leads to peace,

to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.”

~ Right View ~

(Samma Ditthi)


The eight factors of the Noble Eightfold Path

are not steps to be followed in sequence, one after another.


They can be more aptly described as components

rather than as steps, comparable to the intertwining strands

of a single cable that requires the contributions

of all the strands for maximum strength.


 With a certain degree of progress

all eight factors can be present simultaneously,

each supporting the others.


until that point is reached, some sequence in the

unfolding of the path is inevitable.

Considered from the standpoint of practical training,

 the eight path factors divide into three groups:


the moral discipline group (silakkhandha), made up of

right speech, right action, and right livelihood;


 the concentration group (samadhikkhandha), made up of

right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration; and


the wisdom group (paññakkhandha), made up of

right view and right intention.


These three groups represent three stages of training:

 the training in the higher moral discipline,

the training in the higher consciousness,

and the training in the higher wisdom.-

Adhisilasikkha, adhicittasikkha, adhipaññasikkha.


The order of the three trainings is determined by

the overall aim and direction of the path.

 Since the final goal to which the path leads,

liberation from suffering,

depends ultimately on uprooting ignorance,

the climax of the path must be the training

directly opposed to ignorance.


This is the training in wisdom,

designed to awaken the faculty of penetrative understanding

which sees things “as they really are.

” Wisdom unfolds by degrees,

but even the faintest flashes of insight presuppose as their basis

a mind that has been concentrated,

cleared of disturbance and distraction.


Concentration is achieved through

the training in the higher consciousness,

the second division of the path,

which brings the calm and collectedness

needed to develop wisdom.

But in order for the mind to be unified in concentration,

a check must be placed on the unwholesome dispositions

which ordinarily dominate its workings, since these dispositions

disperse the beam of attention and

scatter it among a multitude of concerns.


The unwholesome dispositions continue to rule

 as long as they are permitted to gain expression

through the channels of body and speech as bodily and verbal deeds.


at the very outset of training,

it is necessary to restrain the faculties of action,

to prevent them from becoming tools of the defilements.


This task is accomplished by the first division of the path,

the training in moral discipline.


the path evolves through its three stages,

with moral discipline as the foundation for concentration,

concentration the foundation for wisdom,

 and wisdom the direct instrument for reaching liberation.

Perplexity sometimes arises over an apparent inconsistency

in the arrangement of the path factors and the threefold training.


 Wisdom —

 which includes right view and right intention —

is the last stage in the threefold training,


its factors are placed at the beginning of the path

rather than at its end, as might be expected according to

the canon of strict consistency.


The sequence of the path factors, however,

is not the result of a careless slip, but

is determined by an important logistical consideration, namely,

that right view and right intention of a preliminary type

are called for at the outset as the spur

for entering the threefold training.


 Right view provides the perspective for practice,

right intention the sense of direction.


the two do not expire in this preparatory role.


For when the mind has been refined by the training in

moral discipline and concentration,

it arrives at a superior right view and right intention,

which now form the proper training in the higher wisdom.


Right view is the forerunner of the entire path,

the guide for all the other factors.

It enables us to understand our starting point, our destination,

and the successive landmarks to pass as practice advances.


To attempt to engage in the practice without a foundation of right view

 is to risk getting lost in the futility of undirected movement.

Doing so might be compared to wanting to drive someplace

without consulting a roadmap or listening to the suggestions

 of an experienced driver. One might get into the car and start to drive,

but rather than approaching closer to one’s destination,

one is more likely to move farther away from it.


To arrive at the desired place one has to have some idea of its

general direction and of the roads leading to it.

Analogous considerations apply to the practice of the path,

which takes place in a framework of understanding established

by right view.


The importance of right view can be gauged from the fact

that our perspectives on the crucial issues of reality and value

have a bearing that goes beyond mere theoretical convictions.


They govern our attitudes, our actions, our whole orientation to existence.


Our views might not be clearly formulated in our mind;

we might have only a hazy conceptual grasp of our beliefs.

But whether formulated or not, expressed or maintained in silence,

 these views have a far-reaching influence.


They structure our perceptions, order our values,

crystallize into the ideational framework through which

we interpret to ourselves the meaning of our being in the world.


These views then condition action.

They lie behind our choices and goals,

 and our efforts to turn these goals from ideals into actuality.


The actions themselves might determine consequences,


the actions along with their consequences hinge on

the views from which they spring.


Since views imply an “ontological commitment,”

a decision on the question of what is real and true,

it follows that views divide into two classes,

right views and wrong views. T

he former correspond to what is real, the latter deviate from the real

and confirm the false in its place.


These two different kinds of views, the Buddha teaches,

lead to radically disparate lines of action, and thence to opposite results.


If we hold a wrong view, even if that view is vague,

it will lead us towards courses of action that eventuate in suffering.


On the other hand, if we adopt a right view,

that view will steer us towards right action, and thereby

 towards freedom from suffering.


Though our conceptual orientation towards the world

might seem innocuous and inconsequential,

when looked at closely it reveals itself to be the

decisive determinant of our whole course of future development.


The Buddha himself says that he sees no single factor so responsible

 for the arising of unwholesome states of mind as wrong view,

and no factor so helpful for the arising of wholesome states of mind

as right view.


 he says that there is no single factor so responsible

for the suffering of living beings as wrong view,

and no factor so potent in promoting the good of living beings

 as right view (AN 1:16.2).


In its fullest measure right view involves a correct understanding

of the entire Dhamma or teaching of the Buddha,

and thus

its scope is equal to the range of the Dhamma itself.

But for practical purposes

two kinds of right view stand out as primary.

One is mundane right view,

 right view which operates within the confines of the world.


The other is supramundane right view,

 the superior right view which leads to liberation from the world.


The first is concerned with the laws governing material

and spiritual progress within the round of becoming,

with the principles that lead to higher and lower states of existence,

 to mundane happiness and suffering.

The second

is concerned with the principles essential to liberation.

 It does not aim merely at spiritual progress from life to life,

 but at emancipation from the cycle of recurring lives and deaths.

Mundane right view involves a correct grasp of the law of kamma,

the moral efficacy of action.

Its literal name is

“right view of the ownership of action” kammassakata sammaditthi

and it finds its standard formulation in the statement:

“Beings are the owners of their actions, the heirs of their actions;

 they spring from their actions, are bound to their actions,

and are supported by their actions.

Whatever deeds they do, good or bad,

 of those they shall be heirs.”


More specific formulations have also come down in the texts.

One stock passage, for example, affirms that virtuous actions such as

giving and offering alms have moral significance,

that good and bad deeds produce corresponding fruits,

 that one has a duty to serve mother and father, that there is rebirth

and a world beyond the visible one,

and that religious teachers of high attainment can be found

who expound the truth about the world on the basis of

their own superior realization.


To understand the implications of this form of right view

we first have to examine the meaning of its key term, kamma.


The word kamma means action. F

or Buddhism the relevant kind of action is volitional action,

deeds expressive of morally determinate volition,

since it is volition that gives the action ethical significance.


 the Buddha expressly identifies action with volition.


In a discourse on the analysis of kamma he says:


 it is volition that I call action (kamma).

 Having willed, one performs an action through body, speech, or mind.”


The identification of kamma with volition makes kamma

 essentially a mental event, a factor originating in the mind

which seeks to actualize the mind’s drives, dispositions, and purposes.


 Volition comes into being through any of three channels —

body, speech, or mind — called the three doors of action (kammadvara).


A volition expressed through the body is a bodily action;

a volition expressed through speech is a verbal action;

and a volition that issues in thoughts, plans, ideas, a

nd other mental states without gaining outer expression is a mental action.


the one factor of volition differentiates into three types of kamma

according to the channel through which it becomes manifest.


Right view requires more than a simple knowledge of the

general meaning of kamma.

 It is also necessary to understand:


 the ethical distinction of kamma into the unwholesome and the wholesome;


the principal cases of each type; and


the roots from which these actions spring.

As expressed in a sutta:

 “When a noble disciple understands

what is kammically unwholesome, and the root of unwholesome kamma,

what is kammically wholesome, and the root of wholesome kamma,

then he has right view.”


Taking these points in order, we find that kamma is first distinguished

 as unwholesome (akusala) and wholesome (kusala).


Unwholesome kamma is action that is morally blameworthy,

detrimental to spiritual development,

and conducive to suffering for oneself and others.


Wholesome kamma, on the other hand,

 is action that is morally commendable, helpful to spiritual growth,

and productive of benefits for oneself and others.


Innumerable instances of unwholesome and wholesome kamma

can be cited, but the Buddha selects ten of each as primary.


These he calls the ten courses of unwholesome and wholesome action.

Among the ten in the two sets, three are bodily, four are verbal,

and three are mental.


 The ten courses of unwholesome kamma may be listed as follows,

divided by way of their doors of expression:

Destroying life

Taking what is not given

Wrong conduct in regard to sense pleasures

Verbal action:

False speech

Slanderous speech

 Harsh speech (vacikamma)

Idle chatter


Ill will

Wrong view


The ten courses of wholesome kamma are the opposites of these:

abstaining from the first seven courses of unwholesome kamma,

being free from covetousness and ill will, and holding right view.


Though the seven cases of abstinence

are exercised entirely by the mind

and do not necessarily entail overt action,

they are still designated wholesome bodily and verbal action

because they center on the control of the faculties of body and speech.


Actions are distinguished as wholesome and unwholesome

on the basis of their underlying motives, called “roots” (mula),

which impart their moral quality to the volitions

 concomitant with themselves.


kamma is wholesome or unwholesome according

to whether its roots are wholesome or unwholesome.


The roots are threefold for each set. The unwholesome roots

are the three defilements we already mentioned —

greed, aversion, and delusion.


Any action originating from these is an unwholesome kamma.

The three wholesome roots are their opposites,

expressed negatively in the old Indian fashion as non-greed (alobha),

non-aversion (adosa), and non-delusion (amoha).

Though these are negatively designated, they signify not merely

 the absence of defilements but the corresponding virtues.


Non-greed implies renunciation, detachment, and generosity;

non-aversion implies loving-kindness, sympathy, and gentleness;

and non-delusion implies wisdom.


Any action originating from these roots is a wholesome kamma.


The most important feature of kamma is its capacity to

produce results corresponding to the ethical quality of the action.

An immanent universal law holds sway over volitional actions,

 bringing it about that these actions issue in

retributive consequences, called

vipaka, “ripenings,” or phala, “fruits.”


 The law connecting actions with their fruits

 works on the simple principle that

unwholesome actions ripen in suffering,

wholesome actions in happiness.


 The ripening need not come right away;

it need not come in the present life at all.

 Kamma can operate across the succession of lifetimes;

it can even remain dormant for aeons into the future.

 But whenever we perform a volitional action,

the volition leaves its imprint on the mental continuum,

where it remains as a stored-up potency.


When the stored up kamma meets with conditions

favorable to its maturation, it awakens from its dormant state

and triggers off some effect that brings

due compensation for the original action.


The ripening may take place in the present life, in the next life,

or in some life subsequent to the next.


A kamma may ripen by producing rebirth into the next existence,


determining the basic form of life; or

it may ripen in the course of a lifetime,

issuing in our varied experiences of

happiness and pain, success and failure, progress and decline.

 But whenever it ripens and in whatever way,

the same principle invariably holds:

wholesome actions yield favorable results,

unwholesome actions yield unfavorable results.


To recognize this principle is to hold right view of the mundane kind.

 This view at once excludes the multiple forms of wrong view

with which it is incompatible.


As it affirms that our actions have an influence on our destiny

continuing into future lives, it opposes the nihilistic view

 which regards this life as our only existence and holds that

 consciousness terminates with death.


 As it grounds the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong,

 in an objective universal principle, it opposes the ethical subjectivism

which asserts that good and evil are only postulations of personal opinion

or means to social control.

As it affirms that people can choose their actions freely,

within limits set by their conditions, it opposes the

“hard deterministic” line that our choices are always

made subject to necessitation, and hence

 that free volition is unreal and moral responsibility untenable.


Some of the implications of the Buddha’s teaching on

 the right view of kamma and its fruits run counter to

popular trends in present-day thought,

and it is helpful to make these differences explicit.


The teaching on right view makes it known that good and bad,

right and wrong, transcend conventional opinions about

what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.


An entire society may be predicated upon

a confusion of correct moral values,

and even though everyone within that society

may applaud one particular kind of action as right

 and condemn another kind as wrong,

 this does not make them validly right and wrong.


For the Buddha, moral standards are objective and invariable.

While the moral character of deeds is doubtlessly conditioned

by the circumstances under which they are performed,

there are objective criteria of morality against which any action,

or any comprehensive moral code, can be evaluated.


This objective standard of morality is integral to the Dhamma,

 the cosmic law of truth and righteousness.

Its transpersonal ground of validation is the fact that deeds,

as expressions of the volitions that engender them,

produce consequences for the agent, and that the correlations between

deeds and their consequences are intrinsic to the volitions themselves.


 There is no divine judge standing above the cosmic process

who assigns rewards and punishments.


the deeds themselves,

through their inherent moral or immoral nature,

 generate the appropriate results.


For most people, the vast majority,

the right view of kamma and its results is held out of confidence,

accepted on faith from an eminent spiritual teacher

who proclaims the moral efficacy of action.

But even when the principle of kamma is not personally seen,

it still remains a facet of right view.


It is part and parcel of right view because

right view is concerned with understanding —

with understanding our place in the total scheme of things —

and one who accepts the principle that our volitional actions

 possess a moral potency has, to that extent, grasped

an important fact pertaining to the nature of our existence.


the right view of the kammic efficacy of action need not remain

exclusively an article of belief screened behind an impenetrable barrier.


It can become a matter of direct seeing.

Through the attainment of certain states of deep concentration

it is possible to develop a special faculty called the

“divine eye” (dibbacakkhu),

 a super-sensory power of vision that reveals things

hidden from the eyes of flesh.

When this faculty is developed, it can be directed out upon

the world of living beings to

investigate the workings of the kammic law.


With the special vision it confers one can then see for oneself,

with immediate perception, how beings pass away and re-arise

according to their kamma,

 how they meet happiness and suffering through

the maturation of their good and evil deeds.

The right view of kamma and its fruits

provides a rationale for engaging in wholesome actions

and attaining high status within the round of rebirths,

but by itself it does not lead to liberation.


It is possible for someone to accept the law of kamma

yet still limit his aims to mundane achievements.

One’s motive for performing noble deeds might be

the accumulation of meritorious kamma leading to

prosperity and success here and now,

a fortunate rebirth as a human being, or

 the enjoyment of celestial bliss in the heavenly worlds.


There is nothing within the logic of kammic causality

to impel the urge to transcend the cycle of kamma and its fruit.

The impulse to deliverance from the entire round of becoming

depends upon the acquisition of a different and deeper perspective,

one which yields insight into the inherent defectiveness of

all forms of samsaric existence, even the most exalted.


This superior right view leading to liberation

is the understanding of the Four Noble Truths.


It is this right view that figures as the first factor

of the Noble Eightfold Path in the proper sense:

 as the noble right view.


the Buddha defines the path factor of right view expressly

 in terms of the four truths:

“What now is right view?

It is understanding of suffering (dukkha),

understanding of the origin of suffering,

understanding of the cessation of suffering,

understanding of the way leading to the cessation to suffering.”


 The Eightfold Path starts with

a conceptual understanding of the Four Noble Truths

apprehended only obscurely through the media of

thought and reflection.


It reaches its climax in a direct intuition of those same truths,

penetrated with a clarity tantamount to enlightenment.


it can be said that the right view of the Four Noble Truths

forms both the beginning and the culmination

of the way to the end of suffering.


The first noble truth is the truth of suffering (dukkha),

the inherent unsatisfactoriness of existence,

 revealed in the impermanence, pain, and perpetual incompleteness

intrinsic to all forms of life.


This is the noble truth of suffering.

Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is suffering;

death is suffering;

sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are suffering;

association with the unpleasant is suffering;

separation from the pleasant is suffering;

 not to get what one wants is suffering;

 in brief,

the five aggregates of clinging are suffering.


The last statement makes a comprehensive claim

that calls for some attention.

The five aggregates of clinging (pañcupadan-akkandha)

are a classificatory scheme for

understanding the nature of our being.


 What we are, the Buddha teaches, is a set of five aggregates —

material form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness — all connected with clinging.


We are the five and the five are us.

Whatever we identify with, whatever we hold to as our self,

falls within the set of five aggregates.

Together these five aggregates generate the whole array of

 thoughts, emotions, ideas, and dispositions in which we dwell…

“our world.”


 the Buddha’s declaration that the five aggregates are dukkha

in effect brings all experience, our entire existence,

 into the range of dukkha.

But here the question arises:

Why should the Buddha say that the five aggregates are dukkha?

The reason he says that the five aggregates are dukkha

is that they are impermanent.

They change from moment to moment, arise and fall away,

 without anything substantial behind them persisting through the change.

Since the constituent factors of our being are always changing,

 utterly devoid of a permanent core,

 there is nothing we can cling to in them as a basis for security.


There is only a constantly disintegrating flux which,

when clung to in the desire for permanence,

brings a plunge into suffering.


The second noble truth points out the cause of dukkha.

From the set of defilements which eventuate in suffering,

the Buddha singles out craving (tanha)

as the dominant and most pervasive cause,

“the origin of suffering.”


This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering.

It is this craving which produces repeated existence,

is bound up with delight and lust, and seeks pleasure here and there,


craving for sense pleasures, craving for existence,

and craving for non-existence.


The third noble truth simply reverses this relationship of origination.

If craving is the cause of dukkha,

then to be free from dukkha we have to eliminate craving.


the Buddha says:

This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering.

It is the complete fading away and cessation of this craving,

its forsaking and abandonment, liberation and detachment from it.


The state of perfect peace that comes

when craving is eliminated is Nibbana (nirvana),

the unconditioned state experienced while alive with

the extinguishing of the flames of greed, aversion, and delusion.


The fourth noble truth shows the way to reach the end of dukkha,

 the way to the realization of Nibbana.


That way is the Noble Eightfold Path itself.


The right view of the Four Noble Truths develops in two stages.

The first is called the right view that accords with

the truths (saccanulomika samma ditthi);

the second,

the right view that penetrates the truths (saccapativedha samma ditthi).


To acquire the right view that accords with the truths

requires a clear understanding of their meaning

and significance in our lives.


Such an understanding arises first by learning the truths

and studying them.


it is deepened by reflecting upon them in the light of experience

until one gains a strong conviction as to their veracity.


But even at this point the truths have not been penetrated,

and thus

 the understanding achieved is still defective,

 a matter of concept rather than perception.

To arrive at the experiential realization of the truths

 it is necessary to take up the practice of meditation —

first to strengthen the capacity for sustained concentration,

then to develop insight.


 Insight arises by contemplating the five aggregates,

the factors of existence, in order to discern their real characteristics.


At the climax of such contemplation the mental eye

turns away from the conditioned phenomena comprised in the aggregates and shifts its focus to the unconditioned state, Nibbana,

which becomes accessible through the deepened faculty of insight.


With this shift, when the mind’s eye sees Nibbana,

there takes place a simultaneous penetration of all Four Noble Truths.


By seeing Nibbana, the state beyond dukkha,

one gains a perspective from which to view the five aggregates

and see that they are dukkha simply because they are conditioned,

subject to ceaseless change.


At the same moment Nibbana is realized, craving stops;

 the understanding then dawns that craving…

 is the true origin of dukkha.


When Nibbana is seen, it is realized to be the state of peace,

free from the turmoil of becoming.


because this experience has been reached

by practicing the Noble Eightfold Path,

one knows for oneself that the Noble Eightfold Path

is truly the way to the end of dukkha.


This right view that penetrates the Four Noble Truths

comes at the end of the path, not at the beginning.


We have to start with the right view conforming to the truths,

acquired through learning and fortified through reflection.


 This view inspires us to take up the practice,

to embark on the threefold training in moral

discipline, concentration, and wisdom.

When the training matures, the eye of wisdom opens by itself,

penetrating the truths and freeing the mind from bondage.

Right Intention (Samma Sankappa)


The second factor of the path

is called in Pali samma sankappa, which we will translate as

“right intention.”

The term is sometimes translated as “right thought,”

a rendering that can be accepted if we add the proviso that

in the present context the word “thought” refers specifically to

the purposive or conative aspect of mental activity,

the cognitive aspect being covered by the first factor, right view.


It would be artificial, however, to insist too strongly on

 the division between these two functions.

From the Buddhist perspective, the cognitive and purposive

sides of the mind do not remain isolated in separate compartments


intertwine and interact in close correlation.

Emotional predilections influence views,

and views determine predilections.


a penetrating view of the nature of existence, gained through

deep reflection and validated through investigation,

brings with it a restructuring of values

which sets the mind moving towards goals

commensurate with the new vision.

The application of mind needed to achieve those goals

is what is meant by right intention.


The Buddha explains right intention as threefold:

the intention of renunciation,

 the intention of good will,

and the intention of harmlessness.


 The three are opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention:

intention governed by desire,

intention governed by ill will,

and intention governed by harmfulness.


 Each kind of right intention

 counters the corresponding kind of wrong intention.

The intention of renunciation counters the intention of desire,

the intention of good will counters the intention of ill will,

and the intention of harmlessness counters the intention of harmfulness.


The Buddha discovered this twofold division of thought

in the period prior to his Enlightenment (see MN 19).

While he was striving for deliverance, meditating in the forest,

he found that his thoughts could be distributed into two different classes.

In one he put thoughts of desire, ill will, and harmfulness,

in the other thoughts of renunciation, good will, and harmlessness.


Whenever he noticed thoughts of the first kind arise in him,

 he understood that those thoughts

lead to harm for oneself and others, obstruct wisdom,

and lead away from Nibbana.


Reflecting in this way he expelled such thoughts from his mind

and brought them to an end.


whenever thoughts of the second kind arose,

he understood those thoughts to be beneficial,

conducive to the growth of wisdom, aids to the attainment of Nibbana.


he strengthened those thoughts and brought them to completion.


Right intention claims the second place in the path,

between right view and the triad of moral factors

that begins with right speech,

because the mind’s intentional function forms the crucial link

connecting our cognitive perspective with our

modes of active engagement in the world.


On the one side actions always point back to the

thoughts from which they spring.

 Thought is the forerunner of action, directing body and speech,

 stirring them into activity,

using them as its instruments for expressing its aims and ideals.

These aims and ideals, our intentions, in turn

point back a further step to the prevailing views.

When wrong views prevail, the outcome is wrong intention

giving rise to unwholesome actions.


one who denies the moral efficacy of action and measures achievement

in terms of gain and status will aspire to nothing but gain and status,

using whatever means he can to acquire them.


When such pursuits become widespread, the result is suffering,

the tremendous suffering of individuals, social groups, and nations

out to gain wealth, position, and power

without regard for consequences.


The cause for the endless competition, conflict, injustice, and oppression

does not lie outside the mind.

These are all just manifestations of intentions,

outcroppings of thoughts driven by greed, by hatred, by delusion.



when the intentions are right, the actions will be right,

and for the intentions to be right the surest guarantee is right views.


One who recognizes the law of kamma,

that actions bring retributive consequences,

will frame his pursuits to accord with this law;


 his actions, expressive of his intentions,

will conform to the canons of right conduct.

The Buddha succinctly sums up the matter when he says

that for a person who holds a wrong view,

his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view

will lead to suffering, while for a person who holds right view,

his deeds, words, plans, and purposes grounded in that view

will lead to happiness.


Since the most important formulation of right view is

the understanding of the Four Noble Truths, it follows that this view

should be in some way determinative of the content of right intention.

This we find to be in fact the case.

Understanding the four truths in relation to one’s own life

gives rise to the next section

the intention of renunciation;

understanding them in relation to other beings gives rise

to the other two right intentions.


When we see how our own lives are pervaded by dukkha,

and how this dukkha derives from craving,

the mind inclines to renunciation —

 to abandoning craving and the objects to which it binds us.


when we apply the truths in an analogous way to other living beings,

the contemplation nurtures the growth of good will and harmlessness.

We see that, like ourselves, all other living beings want to be happy,

 and again that like ourselves they are subject to suffering.


The consideration that all beings seek happiness

causes thoughts of good will to arise —

the loving wish that they be well, happy, and peaceful.


The consideration that beings are exposed to suffering

causes thoughts of harmlessness to arise —

 the compassionate wish that they be free from suffering.


The moment the cultivation of the Noble Eightfold Path begins,

the factors of right view and right intention together start to counteract the three unwholesome roots.

Delusion, the primary cognitive defilement,

is opposed by right view, the nascent seed of wisdom.


The complete eradication of delusion will only take place when right view is developed to the stage of full realization,


every flickering of correct understanding

 contributes to its eventual destruction.


The other two roots, being emotive defilements,

require opposition through the redirecting of intention,

and thus

meet their antidotes in thoughts of renunciation,

 good will, and harmlessness.


Since greed and aversion are deeply grounded,

they do not yield easily; however,

the work of overcoming them is not impossible

if an effective strategy is employed.


The path devised by the Buddha makes use of an indirect approach:

 it proceeds by tackling the thoughts to which these defilements give rise.

Greed and aversion surface in the form of thoughts,

and thus

can be eroded by a process of “thought substitution,”

 by replacing them with the thoughts opposed to them.

The intention of renunciation provides the remedy to greed.


Greed comes to manifestation in thoughts of desire —

as sensual, acquisitive, and possessive thoughts.

Thoughts of renunciation spring from the wholesome root of non-greed,

which they activate whenever they are cultivated.

Since contrary thoughts cannot coexist,

when thoughts of renunciation are roused,

they dislodge thoughts of desire,


causing non-greed to replace greed.


Similarly, the intentions of good will and harmlessness

offer the antidote to aversion.

Aversion comes to manifestation either in thoughts of ill will —

as angry, hostile, or resentful thoughts;

or in thoughts of harming —

as the impulses to cruelty, aggression, and destruction.


Thoughts of good will counter the former outflow of aversion,

thoughts of harmlessness the latter outflow,

in this way excising the unwholesome root of aversion itself.

~  The Intention of Renunciation  ~


The Buddha describes his teaching as

running contrary to the way of the world.

The way of the world is the way of desire,

and the unenlightened who follow this way

flow with the current of desire, seeking happiness

by pursuing the objects in which

they imagine they will find fulfillment.


The Buddha’s message of renunciation states exactly the opposite:

the pull of desire is to be resisted and eventually abandoned.

Desire is to be abandoned not because it is morally evil


because it is a root of suffering.


renunciation - turning away from craving and its drive for gratification,

becomes the key to happiness,

to freedom from the hold of attachment.


The Buddha does not demand that everyone leave the household life

for the monastery or ask his followers

to discard all sense enjoyments on the spot.

The degree to which a person renounces depends on

his or her disposition and situation.


what remains as a guiding principle is this:

that the attainment of deliverance

requires the complete eradication of craving,

and progress along the path is accelerated to the extent that

one overcomes craving.


Breaking free from domination by desire may not be easy,

but the difficulty does not abrogate the necessity.

Since craving is the origin of dukkha,

putting an end to dukkha depends on eliminating craving,

and that involves directing the mind to renunciation.


it is just at this point, when one tries to let go of attachment,

that one encounters a powerful inner resistance.

The mind does not want to relinquish its hold on the objects

to which it has become attached.


For such a long time it has been accustomed to

 gaining, grasping, and holding, that it seems impossible

to break these habits by an act of will.


One might agree to the need for renunciation,

might want to leave attachment behind,


when the call is actually sounded the mind recoils

and continues to move in the grip of its desires.


So the problem arises of how to break the shackles of desire.

The Buddha does not offer as a solution the method of repression —

 the attempt to drive desire away with a mind full of

fear and loathing.


This approach does not resolve the problem

but only pushes it below the surface, where it continues to thrive.

The tool the Buddha holds out to free the mind from desire

is understanding.


 Real renunciation is not a matter of compelling ourselves

to give up things still inwardly cherished,

but of changing our perspective on them

so that they no longer bind us.


When we understand the nature of desire,

when we investigate it closely with keen attention,

desire falls away by itself, without need for struggle.


To understand desire in such a way that we can loosen its hold,

we need to see that desire is invariably bound up with dukkha.


The whole phenomenon of desire, with its cycle of

wanting and gratification, hangs on our way of seeing things.


We remain in bondage to desire because

we see it as our means to happiness.


 If we can look at desire from a different angle, its force will be abated,

resulting in the move towards renunciation.


What is needed to alter perception is something called

“wise consideration” (yoniso manasikara).


Just as perception influences thought, so thought can influence perception.

Our usual perceptions are tinged with

“unwise consideration” (ayoniso man-asikara).


We ordinarily look only at the surfaces of things,

scan them in terms of our immediate interests and wants;

 only rarely do we dig into the roots of our involvements

 or explore their long-range consequences.


To set this straight calls for wise consideration:

looking into the hidden undertones to our actions,

exploring their results, evaluating the worthiness of our goals.


In this investigation our concern must not be with what is pleasant


with what is true.


We have to be prepared and willing to discover what is true

even at the cost of our comfort.

 For real security always lies on the side of truth,

not on the side of comfort.


When desire is scrutinized closely, we find that it is

constantly shadowed by dukkha.


Sometimes dukkha appears as pain or irritation;

 often it lies low as a constant strain of discontent.

But the two — desire and dukkha —

are inseparable concomitants.


We can confirm this for ourselves

by considering the whole cycle of desire.

At the moment desire springs up it creates in us a sense of lack,

the pain of want.

To end this pain we struggle to fulfill the desire.

If our effort fails, we experience frustration, disappointment,

sometimes despair. But

even the pleasure of success is not unqualified.


 We worry that we might lose the ground we have gained.

We feel driven to secure our position, to safeguard our territory,

to gain more, to rise higher, to establish tighter controls.


The demands of desire seem endless, and

each desire demands the eternal:

it wants the things we get to last forever.


 all the objects of desire are impermanent.

Whether it be wealth, power, position, or other persons,

separation is inevitable,

and the pain that accompanies separation

is proportional to the force of attachment:

strong attachment brings much suffering;

little attachment brings little suffering;

no attachment brings no suffering.


Contemplating the dukkha inherent in desire

 is one way to incline the mind to renunciation.

Another way is to contemplate directly

the benefits flowing from renunciation.


 To move from desire to renunciation is not, as might be imagined,

to move from happiness to grief, from abundance to destitution.


It is to pass from gross, entangling pleasures

 to an exalted happiness and peace,

from a condition of servitude to one of self-mastery.


Desire ultimately breeds fear and sorrow, but

renunciation gives fearlessness and joy.

It promotes the accomplishment of all three stages

of the threefold training:

it purifies conduct,

aids concentration, and

nourishes the seed of wisdom.


The entire course of practice from start to finish can in fact

be seen as an evolving process of renunciation

culminating in Nibbana

as the ultimate stage of relinquishment,

 “the relinquishing of all foundations of existence” (sabb’upadhipatinissagga).


When we methodically contemplate the dangers of desire

and the benefits of renunciation, gradually we steer our mind

away from the domination of desire.


Attachments are shed like the leaves of a tree, naturally and spontaneously.

The changes do not come suddenly, but when there is persistent practice,

 there is no doubt that they will come.

 Through repeated contemplation one thought knocks away another,

the intention of renunciation dislodges the intention of desire.

The intention of good will

opposes the intention of ill will,

thoughts governed by anger and aversion.

As in the case of desire, there are two ineffective ways of handling ill will.

One is to yield to it, to express the aversion by bodily or verbal action.


This approach releases the tension,

 helps drive the anger “out of one’s system,”

but it also poses certain dangers.

It breeds resentment, provokes retaliation, creates enemies,

poisons relationships, and generates unwholesome kamma;

in the end,

the ill will does not leave the “system” after all,

but instead is driven down to a deeper level

where it continues to vitiate one’s thoughts and conduct.


 The other approach, repression,

 also fails to dispel the destructive force of ill will.

It merely turns that force around and pushes it inward,

where it becomes transmogrified into self-contempt,

chronic depression, or

a tendency to irrational outbursts of violence.


The remedy the Buddha recommends to counteract ill will,

especially when the object is another person,

is a quality called in Pali metta.


This word derives from another word meaning “friend,”

but metta signifies much more than ordinary friendliness.

I prefer to translate it by the compound


which best captures the intended sense:

an intense feeling of selfless love for other beings

radiating outwards as a heartfelt concern for their

well-being and happiness.

 Metta is not just sentimental good will,

nor is it a conscientious response

to a moral imperative or divine command.


It must become a deep inner feeling,

characterized by spontaneous warmth

rather than by a sense of obligation.


At its peak metta rises to the heights of a brahmavihara,

 a “divine dwelling,” a total way of being

centered on the radiant wish for the welfare of all living beings.


The kind of love implied by metta should be distinguished from

sensual love as well as from the love involved in personal affection.


The first is a form of craving, necessarily self-directed,

while the second still includes a degree of attachment:

 we love a person because that person gives us pleasure,

belongs to our family or group, or reinforces our own self-image.


Only rarely does the feeling of affection

transcend all traces of ego-reference,

and even then its scope is limited.


It applies only to a certain person or group of people while excluding others.

The love involved in metta, in contrast, does not hinge on

particular relations to particular persons.


 Here the reference point of self is utterly omitted.

We are concerned only with suffusing others

with a mind of loving-kindness, which ideally

 is to be developed into a universal state,

extended to all living beings without discriminations or reservations.


The way to impart to metta this universal scope

is to cultivate it as an exercise in meditation.

Spontaneous feelings of good will occur too sporadically

and are too limited in range to be relied on as the remedy for aversion.


The idea of deliberately developing love has been criticized as

contrived, mechanical, and calculated.

 Love, it is said, can only be genuine when it is spontaneous,

 arisen without inner prompting or effort.


 it is a Buddhist thesis that

the mind cannot be commanded to love spontaneously;

it can only be shown the means to develop love

and enjoined to practice accordingly.


At first the means has to be employed with some deliberation,

but through practice the feeling of love becomes ingrained,

grafted onto the mind as a natural and spontaneous tendency.


The method of development is metta-bhavana,

the meditation on loving-kindness,

 one of the most important kinds of Buddhist meditation.

The meditation begins with

the development of loving-kindness towards oneself.


 It is suggested that one take oneself as the first object of metta

because true loving-kindness for others only becomes possible

when one is able to feel genuine loving-kindness for oneself.

 Probably most of the anger and hostility we direct to others

springs from negative attitudes we hold towards ourselves.

When metta is directed inwards towards oneself,

it helps to melt down the hardened crust

created by these negative attitudes,

permitting a fluid diffusion of kindness and sympathy outwards.


Once one has learned to kindle the feeling of metta towards oneself,

the next step is to extend it to others.

The extension of metta hinges on a shift in the sense of identity,

on expanding the sense of identity beyond its ordinary confines

and learning to identify with others.



The shift is purely psychological in method,

entirely free from theological and metaphysical postulates,

such as that of a universal self-immanent in all beings.


it proceeds from a simple, straightforward course of reflection

which enables us to share the subjectivity of others

and experience the world (at least imaginatively)

 from the standpoint of their own inwardness.


The procedure starts with oneself.

If we look into our own mind, we find that the basic urge of our being

 is the wish to be happy and free from suffering.


as soon as we see this in ourselves, we can immediately understand

that all living beings share the same basic wish.

 All want to be well, happy, and secure.

To develop metta towards others, what is to be done

is to imaginatively share their own innate wish for happiness.


We use our own desire for happiness as the key,

experience this desire as the basic urge of others,

then come back to our own position and extend to them

the wish that they may achieve their ultimate objective,

that they may be well and happy.


The methodical radiation of metta is practiced first by

directing metta to individuals representing certain groups.

These groups are set in an order of progressive remoteness from oneself.

The radiation begins with a dear person, such as a parent or teacher,

 then moves on to a friend, then to a neutral person,

then finally to a hostile person.


Though the types are defined by their relation to oneself,

the love to be developed is not based on that relation

but on each person’s common aspiration for happiness.

With each individual one has to bring his (or her) image into focus

and radiate the thought: “May he (she) be well! May he (she) be happy!

May he (she) be peaceful!”


Only when one succeeds in generating a warm feeling of good will

and kindness towards that person should one turn to the next.

Once one gains some success with individuals,

one can then work with larger units.


One can try developing metta towards all friends,

all neutral persons, all hostile persons.

Then metta can be widened by directional suffusion,

proceeding in the various directions —

east, south, west, north, above, below —

then it can be extended to all beings without distinction.

In the end one suffuses the entire world with a mind of loving-kindness

“vast, sublime, and immeasurable, without enmity, without aversion.”

The intention of harmlessness is

thought guided by compassion (karuna),

aroused in opposition to cruel, aggressive, and violent thoughts.


Compassion supplies the complement to lovingkindness.

Whereas loving-kindness has the characteristic of

wishing for the happiness and welfare of others,

compassion has the characteristic of

wishing that others be free from suffering,

 a wish to be extended without limits to all living beings.


 Like metta, compassion arises by entering into the subjectivity of others,

by sharing their interiority in a deep and total way.

It springs up by considering that all beings, like ourselves,

wish to be free from suffering, yet despite their wishes

continue to be harassed by pain, fear, sorrow, and other forms of dukkha.


To develop compassion as a meditative exercise,

it is most effective to start with somebody

who is actually undergoing suffering,

since this provides the natural object for compassion.


One contemplates this person’s suffering, either directly or imaginatively,

 then reflects that like oneself,

he (she) also wants to be free from suffering.


The thought should be repeated, and contemplation continually exercised,

until a strong feeling of compassion swells up in the heart.


using that feeling as a standard, one turns to different individuals,

 considers how they are each exposed to suffering,

and radiates the gentle feeling of compassion out to them.


To increase the breadth and intensity of compassion

it is helpful to contemplate the various sufferings

to which living beings are susceptible.

A useful guideline to this extension is provided by the first noble truth,

with its enumeration of the different aspects of dukkha.


One contemplates beings as subject to old age, then as subject to sickness,

 then to death, then to sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair,

and so forth.

When a high level of success has been achieved in generating compassion

by the contemplation of beings who are directly afflicted by suffering,

one can then move on to consider people who are presently

enjoying happiness which they have acquired by immoral means.


One might reflect that such people, despite their superficial fortune,

are doubtlessly troubled deep within by the pangs of conscience.

Even if they display no outward signs of inner distress,

one knows that they will eventually

reap the bitter fruits of their evil deeds,

which will bring them intense suffering.



one can widen the scope of one’s contemplation to include all living beings.

One should contemplate all beings as subject to

the universal suffering of samsara, driven by their

greed, aversion, and delusion

through the round of repeated birth and death.


 If compassion is initially difficult to arouse towards

beings who are total strangers, one can strengthen it by

reflecting on the Buddha’s dictum that

in this beginningless cycle of rebirths,

it is hard to find even a single being who has not at some time

 been one’s own mother or father, sister or brother, son or daughter.


To sum up, we see that the three kinds of right intention —

of renunciation, good will, and harmlessness —

counteract the three wrong intentions of

desire, ill will, and harmfulness.


The importance of putting into practice the contemplations leading to the arising of these thoughts cannot be overemphasized.

The contemplations have been taught as methods for cultivation,

not mere theoretical excursions.


To develop the intention of renunciation we have to

contemplate the suffering tied up with the quest for worldly enjoyment;

to develop the intention of good will we have to consider

how all beings desire happiness;

to develop the intention of harmlessness

we have to consider how all beings wish to be free from suffering.


The unwholesome thought is like a rotten peg lodged in the mind;

the wholesome thought is like a new peg suitable to replace it.

The actual contemplation functions as the hammer used to

drive out the old peg with the new one.

The work of driving in the new peg is practice —

practicing again and again, as often as is necessary to reach success.


The Buddha gives us his assurance that the victory can be achieved.

He says that whatever one reflects upon frequently

becomes the inclination of the mind.


 If one frequently thinks sensual, hostile, or harmful thoughts,

 desire, ill will, and harmfulness become the inclination of the mind.


If one frequently thinks in the opposite way,

renunciation, good will, and harmlessness

become the inclination of the mind (MN 19).


The direction we take always comes back to ourselves,

to the intentions we generate moment by moment in the course of our lives.

Right Speech (samma vaca)

The Buddha divides right speech into four components:

abstaining from false speech, abstaining from slanderous speech,

abstaining from harsh speech, and abstaining from idle chatter.


Because the effects of speech are not as immediately evident

as those of bodily action, its importance and potential is easily overlooked.

But a little reflection will show that speech and its offshoot,

the written word, can have enormous consequences for good or for harm.

 In fact,

whereas for beings such as animals who live at the preverbal level

physical action is of dominant concern,

for humans immersed in verbal communication

speech gains the ascendency.


 Speech can break lives, create enemies, and start wars,

or it can give wisdom, heal divisions, and create peace.


This has always been so, yet in the modern age the

positive and negative potentials of speech have been

 vastly multiplied by the tremendous increase in the

means, speed, and range of communications.


 The capacity for verbal expression, oral and written,

has often been regarded as the distinguishing mark of the human species.

From this we can appreciate the need to make this capacity

the means to human excellence rather than,

as too often has been the case, the sign of human degradation.


~ Abstaining from false speech (musavada veramani) ~


Herein someone avoids false speech and abstains from it.

He speaks the truth, is devoted to truth, reliable, worthy of confidence,

not a deceiver of people.

Being at a meeting, or amongst people, or in the midst of his relatives,

or in a society, or in the king’s court, and called upon and asked as witness

to tell what he knows, he answers, if he knows nothing: “I know nothing,”

 and if he knows, he answers: “I know”;

if he has seen nothing, he answers: “I have seen nothing,”

and if he has seen, he answers: “I have seen.”


he never knowingly speaks a lie, either for the sake of his own advantage,

 or for the sake of another person’s advantage,

 or for the sake of any advantage whatsoever.


This statement of the Buddha discloses both the

negative and the positive sides to the precept.

The negative side is abstaining from lying,

 the positive side speaking the truth.

The determinative factor behind the transgression is

 the intention to deceive.


If one speaks something false believing it to be true,

there is no breach of the precept as the intention to deceive is absent.

Though the deceptive intention is common to all cases of false speech,

lies can appear in different guises depending on the motivating root,

 whether greed, hatred, or delusion.


Greed as the chief motive results in the lie aimed at

gaining some personal advantage for oneself

or for those close to oneself —

 material wealth, position, respect, or admiration.


With hatred as the motive, false speech takes the form of the malicious lie,

the lie intended to hurt and damage others.


When delusion is the principal motive, the result is

 a less pernicious type of falsehood:

the irrational lie, the compulsive lie, the interesting exaggeration,

lying for the sake of a joke.


The Buddha’s stricture against lying rests upon several reasons.

For one thing,

Lying is disruptive to social cohesion.


People can live together in society only in an atmosphere of mutual trust,

where they have reason to believe that others will speak the truth;

 by destroying the grounds for trust and inducing mass suspicion,

widespread lying becomes the harbinger signaling

 the fall from social solidarity to chaos.

But lying has other consequences of a deeply personal nature

at least equally disastrous.

 By their very nature lies tend to proliferate.


 Lying once and finding our word suspect, we feel compelled to

lie again to defend our credibility, to paint a consistent picture of events.

So the process repeats itself:

the lies stretch, multiply, and connect until they

lock us into a cage of falsehoods from which it is difficult to escape.

The lie is thus a miniature paradigm for the whole process of

subjective illusion.

 In each case the self-assured creator,

sucked in by his own deceptions, eventually winds up their victim.

~     ~     ~

Such considerations probably lie behind

the words of counsel the Buddha spoke to his son,

the young novice Rahula, soon after the boy was ordained.

One day the Buddha came to Rahula,

pointed to a bowl with a little bit of water in it, and asked:

“Rahula, do you see this bit of water left in the bowl?”

Rahula answered: “Yes, sir.”

“So little, Rahula, is the spiritual achievement (samañña, lit. ‘recluseship’)

 of one who is not afraid to speak a deliberate lie.”

Then the Buddha threw the water away, put the bowl down, and said:

“Do you see, Rahula, how that water has been discarded?

In the same way one who tells a deliberate lie

discards whatever spiritual achievement he has made.”

Again he asked: “Do you see how this bowl is now empty?

 In the same way one who has no shame in speaking lies

is empty of spiritual achievement.”


Then the Buddha turned the bowl upside down and said:

“Do you see, Rahula, how this bowl has been turned upside down?

In the same way one who tells a deliberate lie

turns his spiritual achievements upside down

and becomes incapable of progress.”

 Therefore, the Buddha concluded,

one should not speak a deliberate lie even in jest.

~     ~     ~


It is said that in the course of his long training for enlightenment

over many lives, a bodhisatta can break all the moral precepts

except the pledge to speak the truth.

The reason for this is very profound, and reveals that

the commitment to truth has a significance

transcending the domain of ethics and even mental purification,

taking us to the domains of knowledge and being.


Truthful speech provides, in the sphere of interpersonal communication,

a parallel to wisdom in the sphere of private understanding.

The two are respectively the outward and inward modalities

of the same commitment to what is real.


Wisdom consists in the realization of truth, and truth (sacca)

is not just a verbal proposition but the nature of things as they are.

To realize truth

our whole being has to be brought into accord with actuality,

with things as they are, which requires that in communications with others

we respect things as they are by speaking the truth.


Truthful speech establishes a correspondence between our own inner being

and the real nature of phenomena, allowing wisdom to rise up

and fathom their real nature.


much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech

 is a matter of taking our stand on reality rather than illusion,

on the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.


Abstaining from slanderous speech (pisunaya vacaya veramani)

He avoids slanderous speech and abstains from it.


What he has heard here he does not repeat there,

so as to cause dissension there; and what he has heard there

he does not repeat here, so as to cause dissension here.


he unites those that are divided;

and those that are united he encourages.


Concord gladdens him, he delights and rejoices in concord;

and it is concord that he spreads by his words.


Slanderous speech

is speech intended to create enmity and division,

 to alienate one person or group from another.

The motive behind such speech is generally aversion,

resentment of a rival’s success or virtues,

the intention to tear down others by verbal denigrations.


Other motives may enter the picture as well:

the cruel intention of causing hurt to others,

 the evil desire to win affection for oneself,

the perverse delight in seeing friends divided.


Slanderous speech is one of the most serious moral transgressions.

 The root of hate makes the unwholesome kamma already heavy enough,

but since the action usually occurs after deliberation,

the negative force becomes even stronger because

premeditation adds to its gravity.


When the slanderous statement is false,

the two wrongs of falsehood and slander combine

to produce an extremely powerful unwholesome kamma.

The canonical texts record several cases in which the

calumny ofan innocent party led to an

immediate rebirth in the plane of misery.


The opposite of slander, as the Buddha indicates,

is speech that promotes friendship and harmony.

Such speech originates from a mind of loving-kindness and sympathy.

It wins the trust and affection of others, who feel they can

confide in one without fear that their disclosures will be used against them.


Beyond the obvious benefits that such speech brings in this present life,

it is said that abstaining from slander has as its kammic result

the gain of a retinue of friends who can never be turned against one

by the slanderous words of others.


Abstaining from harsh speech (pharusaya vacaya veramani)


He avoids harsh language and abstains from it.

He speaks such words as are gentle, soothing to the ear, loving,

such words as go to the heart, and are courteous, friendly,

and agreeable to many.


Harsh speech is speech uttered in anger,

intended to cause the hearer pain.

 Such speech can assume different forms, of which we might mention three. One is abusive speech:

scolding, reviling, or reproving another angrily with bitter words.


A second is insult: hurting another by ascribing to him some

offensive quality which detracts from his dignity.


 A third is Sarcasm: speaking to someone in a way which

ostensibly lauds him, but with such a tone or twist of phrasing

 that the ironic intent becomes clear and causes pain.


The main root of harsh speech is aversion, assuming the form of anger.

Since the defilement in this case tends to work impulsively,

without deliberation, the transgression is less serious than slander

and the kammic consequence generally less severe.


harsh speech is an unwholesome action with disagreeable results for

oneself and others, both now and in the future, so it has to be restrained.


The ideal antidote is

Patience —

Learning to tolerate blame and criticism from others,

to sympathize with their shortcomings, to respect differences in viewpoint,

to endure abuse without feeling compelled to retaliate.


The Buddha calls for patience even under the most trying conditions:

Even if, monks, robbers and murderers saw through your limbs and joints, whosoever should give way to anger thereat would not be following my advice. For thus ought you to train yourselves: “Undisturbed shall our mind remain, with heart full of love, and free from any hidden malice;

and that person shall we penetrate with loving thoughts,

wide, deep, boundless, freed from anger and hatred.”


Abstaining from idle chatter (samphappalapa veramani)


He avoids idle chatter and abstains from it. He speaks at the right time,

in accordance with facts, speaks what is useful,

speaks of the Dhamma and the discipline;

his speech is like a treasure, uttered at the right moment,

accompanied by reason, moderate and full of sense.


Idle chatter is pointless talk, speech that lacks purpose or depth.

Such speech communicates nothing of value,

but only stirs up the defilements in one’s own mind and in others.


The Buddha advises that idle talk should be curbed and speech restricted

as much as possible to matters of genuine importance.

 In the case of a monk, the typical subject of the passage just quoted,

his words should be selective and concerned primarily with the Dhamma.


Lay persons will have more need for affectionate small talk with friends

and family, polite conversation with acquaintances,

and talk in connection with their line of work.


even then they should be mindful not to let the conversation

stray into pastures where the restless mind, always eager for

something sweet or spicy to feed on, might find the chance to

indulge its defiling propensities.


The traditional exegesis of abstaining from idle chatter refers only to

avoiding engagement in such talk oneself.

But today

it might be of value to give this factor a different slant,

made imperative by certain developments peculiar to our own time,

 unknown in the days of the Buddha and the ancient commentators.

This is avoiding exposure to the idle chatter

constantly bombarding us through

the new media of communication created by modern technology.

An incredible array of devices —

television, radio, newspapers, pulp journals, the cinema —

turns out a continuous stream of needless information

and distracting entertainment the net effect of which is to

leave the mind passive, vacant, and sterile.


All these developments, naively accepted as “progress,”

threaten to blunt our aesthetic and spiritual sensitivities

and deafen us to the higher call of the contemplative life.


Serious aspirants on the path to liberation have to be extremely discerning

in what they allow themselves to be exposed to.

They would greatly serve their aspirations by including these

sources of amusement and needless information in the category of

 idle chatter and making an effort to avoid them.

Right Action (samma kammanta)

Right action means refraining from unwholesome deeds that occur

with the body as their natural means of expression.


The pivotal element in this path factor is the mental factor of abstinence,

but because this abstinence applies to actions performed through the body,

it is called “right action.”


The Buddha mentions three components of right action:

abstaining from taking life,

abstaining from taking what is not given,

and abstaining from sexual misconduct.


These we will briefly discuss in order.


Abstaining from the taking of life (panatipata veramani)


Herein someone avoids the taking of life and abstains from it.

Without stick or sword, conscientious, full of sympathy,

he is desirous of the welfare of all sentient beings.


“Abstaining from taking life” has a wider application than

 simply refraining from killing other human beings.

The precept enjoins abstaining from killing any sentient being.

A “sentient being” (pani, satta) is a living being

endowed with mind or consciousness; for practical purposes,

this means human beings, animals, and insects.

Plants are not considered to be sentient beings;

 though they exhibit some degree of sensitivity, they lack

full-fledged consciousness, the defining attribute of a sentient being.


The “taking of life” that is to be avoided is intentional killing,

the deliberate destruction of life of a being endowed with consciousness.


The principle is grounded in the consideration that

all beings love life and fear death,

 that all seek happiness and are averse to pain.

The essential determinant of transgression is the volition to kill,

 issuing in an action that deprives a being of life.

Suicide is also generally regarded as a violation,

but not accidental killing as the intention to destroy life is absent.


The abstinence may be taken to apply to two kinds of action,

the primary and the secondary.

The primary is the actual destruction of life;

the secondary is deliberately harming or torturing another being

without killing it.


While the Buddha’s statement on non-injury is quite simple and straightforward, later commentaries give a detailed analysis of the principle.

A treatise from Thailand, written by an erudite Thai patriarch,

collates a mass of earlier material into an especially thorough treatment,

which we shall briefly summarize here.


 The treatise points out that the taking of life may have varying degrees of

moral weight entailing different consequences.

The three primary variables governing moral weight are the

object, the motive, and the effort.

With regard to the object there is a difference in seriousness between

killing a human being and killing an animal,

 the former being kammically heavier since man has a more

highly developed moral sense and greater spiritual potential than animals.


Among human beings,

 the degree of kammic weight depends on the

qualities of the person killed and his relation to the killer;

thus killing a person of superior spiritual qualities or a personal benefactor,

 such as a parent or a teacher, is an especially grave act.


The motive for killing also influences moral weight. Acts of killing can be

driven by greed, hatred, or delusion.

Of the three, killing motivated by hatred is the most serious,

and the weight increases to the degree that the killing is premeditated.


The force of effort involved also contributes,

the unwholesome kamma being proportional to the

force and the strength of the defilements.


The positive counterpart to abstaining from taking life,

as the Buddha indicates,

is the development of kindness and compassion for other beings.

The disciple not only avoids destroying life;

he dwells with a heart full of sympathy, desiring the welfare of all beings.


The commitment to non-injury and concern for the welfare of others

represent the practical application of the second path factor,

right intention, in the form of good will and harmlessness.


~  Abstaining from taking what is not given (adinnadana veramani)  ~


He avoids taking what is not given and abstains from it;

what another person possesses of goods and chattel in the village

or in the wood, that he does not take away with thievish intent.

 “Taking what is not given” means

appropriating the rightful belongings of others with thievish intent.


If one takes something that has no owner, such as unclaimed stones, wood,

or even gems extracted from the earth, the act does not count as

a violation even though these objects have not been given.

But also implied as a transgression, though not expressly stated,

is withholding from others what should rightfully be given to them.


Commentaries mention a number of ways in which

“taking what is not given” can be committed.

Some of the most common may be enumerated:


stealing: taking the belongings of others secretly,

as in housebreaking, pickpocketing, etc.;


robbery: taking what belongs to others openly by force or threats;


snatching: suddenly pulling away another’s possession

before he has time to resist;


fraudulence: gaining possession of another’s belongings

by falsely claiming them as one’s own;


deceitfulness: using false weights and measures to cheat customers.


The degree of moral weight that attaches to the action

is determined by three factors:

the value of the object taken;

the qualities of the victim of the theft;

and the subjective state of the thief.


Regarding the first, moral weight is directly proportional

to the value of the object.

Regarding the second,

the weight varies according to the moral qualities

of the deprived individual.

Regarding the third,

 acts of theft may be motivated either by greed or hatred.

While greed is the most common cause,

hatred may also be responsible as when one person deprives another

of his belongings not so much because he wants them for himself

as because he wants to harm the latter. Between the two,

acts motivated by hatred are kammically heavier than

acts motivated by sheer greed.


The positive counterpart to abstaining from stealing is


which implies respect for the belongings of others and for their right

to use their belongings as they wish.


Another related virtue is contentment,

being satisfied with what one has without being inclined

to increase one’s wealth by unscrupulous means.


The most eminent opposite virtue is generosity,

giving away one’s own wealth and possessions in order to benefit others.


~ Abstaining from sexual misconduct (kamesu miccha-cara veramani) ~


He avoids sexual misconduct and abstains from it.

He has no intercourse with such persons as are still

under the protection of father, mother, brother, sister or relatives,

nor with married women, nor with female convicts, nor lastly,

with betrothed girls.


The guiding purposes of this precept, from the ethical standpoint,

are to protect marital relations from outside disruption

and to promote trust and fidelity within the marital union.


From the spiritual standpoint it helps curb the expansive tendency of

sexual desire and thus is a step in the direction of renunciation,

which reaches its consummation in the observance of

celibacy (brahmacariya) binding on monks and nuns.


But for laypeople the precept enjoins abstaining from

 sexual relations with an illicit partner.

The primary transgression is entering into full sexual union,

 but all other sexual involvements of a less complete kind

may be considered secondary infringements.


The main question raised by the precept concerns

who is to count as an illicit partner.


The Buddha’s statement defines the illicit partner from the perspective of

the man, but later treatises elaborate the matter for both sexes.


For a man, three kinds of women are considered illicit partners:

A woman who is married to another man.

This includes, besides a woman already married to a man,

a woman who is not his legal wife but is generally recognized as his consort,

who lives with him or is kept by him or is in some way

acknowledged as his partner.


All these women are illicit partners for men other than their own husbands.

This class would also include a woman engaged to another man.

But a widow or divorced woman is not out of bounds,

provided she is not excluded for other reasons.


A woman still under protection.

This is a girl or woman who is under the protection of her mother, father, relatives, or others

rightfully entitled to be her guardians.

This provision rules out elopements or secret marriages contrary to the

wishes of the protecting party.


A woman prohibited by convention.

This includes close female relatives forbidden as partners by social tradition,

nuns and other women under a vow of celibacy, and those

prohibited as partners by the law of the land.


From the standpoint of a woman,

two kinds of men are considered illicit partners:

For a married woman any man other than her husband is out of bounds.

Thus a married woman violates the precept if she

breaks her vow of fidelity to her husband.

But a widow or divorcée is free to remarry.


For any woman any man forbidden by convention,

such as close relatives and those under a vow of celibacy, is an illicit partner.


Besides these, any case of forced, violent, or coercive sexual union

 constitutes a transgression.

 But in such a case the violation falls only on the offender,

 not on the one compelled to submit.


The positive virtue corresponding to the abstinence is, for laypeople,

marital fidelity. Husband and wife should each be faithful

and devoted to the other, content with the relationship,

and should not risk a breakup to the union by seeking outside partners.


The principle does not, however, confine sexual relations to the marital union.

It is flexible enough to allow for variations depending on social convention.

The essential purpose, as was said, is to prevent sexual relations

which are hurtful to others.


When mature independent people, though unmarried,

enter into a sexual relationship through free consent,

 so long as no other person is intentionally harmed,

no breach of the training factor is involved.


Ordained monks and nuns, including men and women who have

undertaken the eight or ten precepts, are obliged to observe celibacy.

They must abstain not only from sexual misconduct,

but from all sexual involvements, at least during the period of their vows.


 The holy life at its highest aims at complete purity in thought, word, and deed, and this requires turning back the tide of sexual desire.

Right livelihood is concerned with ensuring that

one earns one’s living in a righteous way.


For a lay disciple the Buddha teaches that wealth should be gained

 in accordance with certain standards.

 One should acquire it only by legal means, not illegally;

one should acquire it peacefully, without coercion or violence;

one should acquire it honestly, not by trickery or deceit;

and one should acquire it in ways which do not entail

harm and suffering for others.


 The Buddha mentions five specific kinds of livelihood

which bring harm to others and are therefore to be avoided:

dealing in weapons,

in living beings (including raising animals for slaughter as well as

slave trade and prostitution), in meat production and butchery,

 in poisons, and in intoxicants.


 He further names several dishonest means of gaining wealth

which fall under wrong livelihood:

practicing deceit, treachery, soothsaying, trickery, and usury.


Obviously, any occupation that requires violation of right speech and right action

is a wrong form of livelihood, but other occupations, such as selling weapons

or intoxicants, may not violate those factors and yet be wrong

because of their consequences for others.


The Thai treatise discusses the positive aspects of right livelihood

under the three convenient headings of rightness regarding actions,

rightness regarding persons, and rightness regarding objects.


 “Rightness regarding actions” means that workers should

fulfill their duties diligently and conscientiously, not idling away time,

 claiming to have worked longer hours than they did,

or pocketing the company’s goods.


“Rightness regarding persons” means that due respect and consideration

should be shown to employers, employees, colleagues, and customers.


An employer, for example, should assign his workers chores

according to their ability, pay them adequately, promote them

when they deserve a promotion

 and give them occasional vacations and bonuses.


Colleagues should try to cooperate rather than compete,

while merchants should be equitable in their dealings with customers. “Rightness regarding objects” means that in business transactions and sales

 the articles to be sold should be presented truthfully.

There should be no deceptive advertising, misrepresentations of quality

or quantity, or dishonest manoeuvers.

Weddings of Heart and Soul


the sacred union of Marriage

is a Spiritually based ceremony that combines the

Love from the Heart and the Depth of one’s Soul.

People have the intrinsic inspiration

To express their deepest expressions of Love

to not only their ‘Love’ and loved ones… but especially to

Divinity’ as they resonate from within.

Our Marital Bliss Dream Teams, Kahu’s and Ministers

All come from a deep sense of Sacred Spirit

in Harmony with the Spirit of Love

While integrating Hawaiian Culture with reverence and respect

through the perspectives of Pono

To always do the Right thing for the greater good of all.

You are Blessed the with Joy of sharing

the most important part of being a Human… and that’s


Love is a mystery that defies science.

In science, the total of anything can only be

The sum of its parts.

But in Love… The Boundless Bliss of Love

is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Through the volition of One’s Higher Calling...

the Fulfillment of one’s Being manifests.

Being in the service of the Greater Good

is a natural progress to this endeavor.

True Love opens hearts, which lead to opening doors towards

A depth of Love that is beyond measure.

Behind every good man is… the partner that is the wind beneath his wings.

Behind every good woman is… the partner that is the wind beneath her wings.

You will both learn naturally

a way of Being that’s bigger than just you…

There is now the Greater Good of Us.

Take this sacred gift of unconditional love for each other,

and expand your circles of embrace and acceptance

Towards an ever-widening circle of unconditional love…

and from that,

Your love will indeed make the world a better place.

Weddings of Heart and Soul


the sacred union of Marriage

is a Spiritually based ceremony that combines the

Love from the Heart and the Depth of one’s Soul.

People have the intrinsic inspiration

To express their deepest expressions of Love

to not only their ‘Love’ and loved ones… but especially to

Divinity’ as they resonate from within.

Our Marital Bliss Dream Teams, Kahu’s and Ministers

All come from a deep sense of Sacred Spirit

in Harmony with the Spirit of Love

While integrating Hawaiian Culture with reverence and respect

through the perspectives of Pono

To always do the Right thing for the greater good of all.

You are Blessed the with Joy of sharing

the most important part of being a Human… and that’s


Love is a mystery that defies science.

In science, the total of anything can only be

The sum of its parts.

But in Love… The Boundless Bliss of Love

is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Through the volition of One’s Higher Calling...

the Fulfillment of one’s Being manifests.

Being in the service of the Greater Good

is a natural progress to this endeavor.

True Love opens hearts, which lead to opening doors towards

A depth of Love that is beyond measure.

Behind every good man is… the partner that is the wind beneath his wings.

Behind every good woman is… the partner that is the wind beneath her wings.

You will both learn naturally

a way of Being that’s bigger than just you…

There is now the Greater Good of Us.

Take this sacred gift of unconditional love for each other,

and expand your circles of embrace and acceptance

Towards an ever-widening circle of unconditional love…

and from that,

Your love will indeed make the world a better place.

Weddings of Heart and Soul


the sacred union of Marriage

is a Spiritually based ceremony that combines the

Love from the Heart and the Depth of one’s Soul.

People have the intrinsic inspiration

To express their deepest expressions of Love

to not only their ‘Love’ and loved ones… but especially to

Divinity’ as they resonate from within.

Our Marital Bliss Dream Teams, Kahu’s and Ministers

All come from a deep sense of Sacred Spirit

in Harmony with the Spirit of Love

While integrating Hawaiian Culture with reverence and respect

through the perspectives of Pono

To always do the Right thing for the greater good of all.

You are Blessed the with Joy of sharing

the most important part of being a Human… and that’s


Love is a mystery that defies science.

In science, the total of anything can only be

The sum of its parts.

But in Love… The Boundless Bliss of Love

is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Through the volition of One’s Higher Calling...

the Fulfillment of one’s Being manifests.

Being in the service of the Greater Good

is a natural progress to this endeavor.

True Love opens hearts, which lead to opening doors towards

A depth of Love that is beyond measure.

Behind every good man is… the partner that is the wind beneath his wings.

Behind every good woman is… the partner that is the wind beneath her wings.

You will both learn naturally

a way of Being that’s bigger than just you…

There is now the Greater Good of Us.

Take this sacred gift of unconditional love for each other,

and expand your circles of embrace and acceptance

Towards an ever-widening circle of unconditional love…

and from that,

Your love will indeed make the world a better place.

Weddings of Heart and Soul


the sacred union of Marriage

is a Spiritually based ceremony that combines the

Love from the Heart and the Depth of one’s Soul.

People have the intrinsic inspiration

To express their deepest expressions of Love

to not only their ‘Love’ and loved ones… but especially to

Divinity’ as they resonate from within.

Our Marital Bliss Dream Teams, Kahu’s and Ministers

All come from a deep sense of Sacred Spirit

in Harmony with the Spirit of Love

While integrating Hawaiian Culture with reverence and respect

through the perspectives of Pono

To always do the Right thing for the greater good of all.

You are Blessed the with Joy of sharing

the most important part of being a Human… and that’s


Love is a mystery that defies science.

In science, the total of anything can only be

The sum of its parts.

But in Love… The Boundless Bliss of Love

is exponentially greater than the sum of its parts.

Through the volition of One’s Higher Calling...

the Fulfillment of one’s Being manifests.

Being in the service of the Greater Good

is a natural progress to this endeavor.

True Love opens hearts, which lead to opening doors towards

A depth of Love that is beyond measure.

Behind every good man is… the partner that is the wind beneath his wings.

Behind every good woman is… the partner that is the wind beneath her wings.

You will both learn naturally

a way of Being that’s bigger than just you…

There is now the Greater Good of Us.

Take this sacred gift of unconditional love for each other,

and expand your circles of embrace and acceptance

Towards an ever-widening circle of unconditional love…

and from that,

Your love will indeed make the world a better place.

This completes our survey of the Noble Eightfold Path,

the way to deliverance from suffering taught by the Buddha.


 The higher reaches of the path may seem remote from us

in our present position,

the demands of practice may appear difficult to fulfill.


But even if the heights of realization are now distant,

all that we need to reach them lies just beneath our feet.

The eight factors of the path are always accessible to us;

they are mental components which can be established in the mind

simply through determination and effort.


We have to begin by straightening out our views and clarifying our intentions.


Then we have to purify our conduct — our speech, action, and livelihood.


Taking these measures as our foundation, we have to apply ourselves

with energy and mindfulness to the cultivation of concentration and insight.


The rest is a matter of gradual practice and gradual progress,

without expecting quick results.


For some progress may be rapid, for others it may be slow,


the rate at which progress occurs should not cause elation or discouragement.


Liberation is the inevitable fruit of the path and is bound to blossom forth

when there is steady and persistent practice.


The only requirements for reaching the final goal are two:

to start and to continue.


If these requirements are met there is no doubt the goal will be attained.

This is the Dhamma, the undeviating law.