In the ancient tradition from which modern mindfulness emerges, there is a non-linear path laid out and adapted by wise people who came before us for liberating ourselves, and one another, from the unsatisfactoriness of an unexamined life. This path has been likened to a prescription for curing something that is ailing us and each of the eight categories marks the way to uncovering treasure buried within.
Many dedicated individuals and groups have done their best to adapt the ancient teachings of the path to fit diverse cultures and the evolving challenges of a global society. They have conceptualized the steps along the path as a method for awakening to the fragility of life and the precariousness of our future, as well as an ethical framework for living together in harmony in a flourishing world. Below is an interpretation of the steps and links to further information:
Wise Perspective – seeing things clearly
Wise Intention – cultivating beneficial ways of thinking, connecting with highest values
Mindful Speech – using well chosen words
Mindful Conduct – behaving skillfully
Mindful Livelihood – engaging in work that is non-harming
Wise Mindfulness – placing and sustaining attention where it is most beneficial
Wise Concentration – balance, collectedness, and steadiness of mind
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
~ William Stafford, The Way It Is
A Secular Reinterpretation of the Eightfold Path from the Secular Buddhist Network
Noble Eightfold Path from Access to Insight