Photo by Paolo Bendandi

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:

Wisdom

Wise Perspective – seeing things clearly

Wise Intention – cultivating beneficial ways of thinking, connecting with highest values

Ethics

Mindful Speech – using well chosen words

Mindful Conduct – behaving skillfully

Mindful Livelihood – engaging in work that is non-harming

Mental Training

Wise Mindfulness – placing and sustaining attention where it is most beneficial

Wise Effort – dedication to practice, persevering without over-efforting

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

References

A Secular Reinterpretation of the Eightfold Path from the Secular Buddhist Network

Noble Eightfold Path from Access to Insight

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