Idaṃ kho pana bhikkhave, dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ: ayameva ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo, seyyathidaṃ — sammādiṭṭhi sammāsankappo sammāvācā sammākammanto sammāājīvo sammāvāyāmo sammāsati sammāsamādhi.
“And this, monks, is the noble truth of the way of practice leading to the cessation of stress: this noble eightfold path itself, namely: right view, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.”
Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (SN 56.11)
The Fourth Noble Truth, the Noble Truth on the Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering (dukkhanirodhagāminī paṭipadā ariyasaccaṃ), defines this path of liberation as the Noble Eightfold Path (ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo).
As its name suggests, the Noble Eightfold Path contains eight facets:
- sammādiṭṭhi – right view
- sammāsankappo – right thought
- sammāvācā – right speech
- sammākammanto – right action
- sammāājīvo – right livelihood
- sammāvāyāmo – right effort
- sammāsati – right mindfulness
- sammāsamādhi – right concentration
All beginning with “sammā,” these factors refer to wholesome means of walking the path. The term sammā means “right” in the sense of being upright, noble, and dignified. In recent translations, it is increasingly rendered as “wise,” as in “wise view,” “wise thought,” “wise speech,” “wise action,” “wise livelihood,” “wise effort,” “wise mindfulness,” and “wise concentration.”
These factors of the Noble Eightfold Path can be further divided as follows:
1. Wisdom (paññā)
- sammā-diṭṭhi – right view
- sammā-sankappo – right thought
2. Ethical Conduct (sīla)
- sammā-vācā – right speech
- sammā-kammanto – right action
- sammā-ājīvo – right livelihood
3. Meditation (samādhi)
- sammā-sati – right mindfulness
- sammā-samādhi – right concentration
Each of these facets functions in relationship with the others. The various components of the Noble Eightfold Path are not isolated and separate from one another. They are intimately interrelated.
Interestingly, the Pāḷi term dukkha or “stress/suffering” refers to a wheel that does not roll smoothly due to a misaligned, off-center, imbalanced rod and axel. Thus, dukkha means out of balance.
Just as a wheel cannot roll smoothly without all of its spokes to support it, the cessation of dukkha cannot be actualized without the mutual functioning of all factors or spokes of the Noble Eightfold Path.