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The Noble Eightfold Path
By Thanissaro Bhikku

More on Right Action & Right Speech for Lay People. Abandoning sensual misconduct, he abstains from sensual misconduct. He does not get sexually involved with those who are protected by their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their relatives, or their Dhamma; those with husbands, those who entail punishments, or even those crowned with flowers by another man.


Abandoning false speech, he abstains from false speech. When he has been called to a town meeting, a group meeting, a gathering of his relatives, his guild, or of the royalty [i.e., a royal court proceeding], if he is asked as a witness, 'Come & tell, good man, what you know': If he doesn't know, he says, 'I don't know.' If he does know, he says, 'I know.' If he hasn't seen, he says, 'I haven't seen.' If he has seen, he says, 'I have seen.' Thus he doesn't consciously tell a lie for his own sake, for the sake of another, or for the sake of any reward.

Visakha: Is the noble eightfold path compounded or uncompounded?
Sister Dhammadinna: The noble eightfold path is compounded. Visakha: And are the three aggregates [of virtue, concentration, & discernment] included under the noble eightfold path, or is the noble eightfold path included under the three aggregates?
Sister Dhammadinna: The three aggregates are not included under the noble eightfold path, but the noble eightfold path is included under the three aggregates. Right speech, right action, & right livelihood come under the aggregate of virtue. Right effort, right . mindfulness, & right concentration come under the aggregate of concentration. Right view & right resolve come under the aggregate of discernment.

And what, monks, is noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions? Any singleness of mind equipped with these seven factors-right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, & right mindfulness-is called noble right concentration with its supports & requisite conditions.

[1] Of those, right view is the forerunner. And how is right view the forerunner? One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's- right view. And what is wrong view? . 'There is nothing given, nothing offered, nothing sacrificed. There is for him-un infatuated, unattached, unconfused, remaining focused on their drawbacks-the five aggregates for sustenance head toward future diminution. The craving that makes for further becoming accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now this & now that-is abandoned by him. His bodily disturbances & mental disturbances are abandoned. His bodily torments & mental torments are abandoned. His bodily distresses & mental distresses are abandoned. He is sensitive both to ease of body & ease of awareness.


Any view belonging to one who has come to be like this is his right view. Any resolve, his right resolve. Any effort, his right effort. Any mindfulness, his right mindfulness. Any concentration, his right concentration: just as earlier his actions, speech, & livelihood were already well-purified. Thus for him, having thus developed the noble eightfold path, the four frames of reference go to the culmination of their development. The four right exertions ... the four bases of power ... the five faculties ... the five strengths ... the seven factors of Awakening go to the culmination of their development. [And] for him these two qualities occur in concert: tranquility & insight.

He comprehends through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be comprehended through direct knowledge, abandons through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be abandoned through direct knowledge, realizes through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be realized through direct knowledge, and develops through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be developed through direct knowledge.
And what qualities are to be comprehended through direct knowledge? 'The five aggregates of clinging/sustenance,' should be the reply. Which five? Form as an aggregate of clinging/sustenance ... Jeeling ... perception .. .fabrications ... consciousness as an aggregate of clinging/ sustenance ....
And what qualities are to be abandoned through direct knowledge? Ignorance & craving for becoming ....
And what qualities are to be developed through direct knowledge? Tranquility & insight.. ..
And what qualities are to be realized through direct knowledge? Clear knowing & release ....

Just as when there is a guest house where people come from the east to take up residence, from the west...the north ... the south to take up residence: Noble warriors come there to take up residence, brahmins ... commoners ... vassals come there to take up residence. In the same way, when a monk develops the noble eightfold path, pursues the noble eightfold path, he comprehends through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be comprehended through direct knowledge, abandons through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be abandoned through direct knowledge, realizes through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be realized through direct knowledge, and develops through direct knowledge whatever qualities are to be developed through direct knowledge.

'Suppose that a man, in the course of traveling along a path, were to come to a great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. The thought would occur to him, "Here is this great expanse of water, with the near shore dubious & risky, the further shore secure & free from risk, but with neither a ferryboat nor a bridge going from this shore to the other. What if I were to gather grass, twigs, branches, & leaves and, having bound them together to make a raft, were to cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with my hands & feet?" Then the man, having gathered grass, twigs, branches, & leaves, having bound them together to make a raft, would cross over to safety on the other shore in dependence on the raft, making an effort with his hands & feet. Having crossed over to the further shore, he might think, "How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having hoisted it on my head or carrying on my back, go wherever I like?" What do you think, monks: would the man, in doing that, be doing what should be done with the raft?' 'No, lord.'

And what should the man do in order to be doing what should be done with the raft? There is the case where the man, having crossed over, would think, "How useful this raft has been to me! For it was in dependence on this raft that, making an effort with my hands & feet, I have crossed over to safety on the further shore. Why don't I, having dragged it on dry land or sinking it in the water, go wherever I like?" In doing this, he would be doing what should be done with
the raft. Even so monks, I have taught you the Dhamma like a raft, for the purpose of crossing over, not for the purpose of holding onto. Knowing the Dhamma to be like a raft, you should let go even of [skillful] qualities, to say nothing of those that are not.'

The great expanse of water stands for the fourfold flood: the flood of sensuality, the flood of becoming, the flood of views, & the flood of ignorance. The near shore, dubious & risky, stands for self identity. The further shore, secure and free from risk, stands for Unbinding. The raft stands for just this noble eightfold path: right view ... right concentration. Making an effort with hands & feet stands for the arousing of persistence. END

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