The Noble Eightfold Path
The Noble Eightfold Path, the fourth of the Buddha's Noble Truths, is the way to the abandonment of suffering. It has eight sections, presented in three groups:
Prajna is the wisdom that purifies the mind, allowing it to attain spiritual insight into the true nature of all things. It includes:
1. Drishti- Viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be.
2. Sankalpa- Intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness.
Sila is the ethics or morality, or abstention from unwholesome deeds. It includes:
3. Vaca- Speaking in a truthful and non hurtful way
4. Karman- Acting in a non harmful way
5. Aajivan- A non harmful livelihood
Samadhi is the mental discipline required to develop mastery over one's own mind. This is done through the practice of various contemplative and meditative practices, and includes:
6. Vyayama- Making an effort to improve
7. Smrti- Awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness, being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion
8. Samadhi- Correct meditation or concentration.
The practice of the Eightfold Path is understood either simultaneous development (all eight items practiced in parallel), or as a progressive series of stages through which the practitioner moves, the culmination of one leading to the beginning of another.
An important guiding principle of Buddhist practice is the Middle Way, which is said to have been discovered by Gautama Buddha prior to his enlightenment. The Middle Path has several definitions:
1. A path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification
2. The middle ground between certain metaphysical views.
3. An explanation of Nirvana (perfect enlightenment), a state wherein it becomes clear that all dualities apparent in the world are delusory.
4. Lack of inherent existence, which avoids the extremes of permanence and nihilism or inherent existence and nothingness
Impermanence is one of the Three Marks of Existence. The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all compounded or conditioned phenomena (things and experiences) are inconstant, unsteady, and impermanent. Everything we can experience through our senses is made up of parts, and its existence is dependent on external conditions. Everything is in constant flux, and so conditions and the thing itself are constantly changing. Things are constantly coming into being, and ceasing to be.
Nirvana means "Awakening" or "Enlightenment". Buddhists believe that anybody who has achieved nirvana is in fact a Buddha. Bodhi is a term applied to the experience of Awakening of arahants. Bodhi literally means "awakening", but is more commonly referred to as "enlightenment". In the later school of Mahayana Buddhism, the status of nirvana was downgraded in some scriptures, coming to refer only to the extinction of greed and hate, implying that delusion was still present in one who attained nirvana, and that one needed to attain bodhi to eradicate delusion. Therefore, according to Mahayana Buddhism, the arahant has attained only nirvana, thus still being subject to delusion, while the bodhisattva not only achieves nirvana but full liberation from delusion as well. He thus attains bodhi and becomes a buddha. In Theravada Buddhism, bodhi and nirvana carry the same meaning, that of being freed from greed, hate and delusion.