The Buddha said that everything in this world is full of suffering, and the cause of suffering is craving. The end of suffering is Nirvana. He was enlightened only after he understood the truth of suffering; its cause; its end; and the way to its end, the Four Noble Truths.
The way to the end of suffering is via the Noble Eightfold Path. The Noble Eightfold Path has eight parts or factors:
1. Right Understanding means to know and understand the Four Noble Truths.
2. Right Attitude means to have three kinds of thoughts or attitudes: (i) thoughts of renunciation or an attitude of “letting go”; (ii) thoughts of goodwill to others, which are opposed to ill will and (iii) thoughts of harmlessness, as opposed to cruelty.
3. Right Speech deals with refraining from falsehood, such as telling lies or not telling the truth; tale-bearing or saying bad things about other people; harsh words and frivolous talk such as gossiping.
4. Right Action deals with refraining from killing, stealing and sexual misconduct.
5. Right Livelihood deals with the five kinds of trade which should be avoided in order to lead a noble life, they are: trading in arms (weapons), living beings (breeding animals for slaughter), intoxicating drinks and poison.
6. Right Effort on control of thoughts has four parts using meditation: (i) to try to stop unwholesome thoughts that have arisen; (ii) to prevent unwholesome thoughts from arising; (iii) to try to develop good thoughts, and (iv) to try to maintain good thoughts that have arisen.
7. Right Mindfulness is also fourfold. It is mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of feelings/sensations, mindfulness of thoughts passing through the mind and mindfulness of Dharma.
8. Right Concentration is one-pointedness of mind as developed in meditation.
These eight factors can be grouped into three smaller groups, as follows:
Sila (morality): right speech, right action, right livelihood.
Samadhi (concentrated mind in meditation): right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Panna (wisdom): right attitude, right understanding.
These three — morality, concentration and wisdom — are the three stages on the path to mental purity whose object is Nirvana. These stages can also be described as: to cease from evil, to do what is good and to cleanse one’s mind.
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