October 18, 2013

Noble Tenfold Path?

Every Buddhist knows about the Eightfold Path.

It is the path the Buddha described for us to lead us out of suffering. It is a set of guidelines, not a rigid set of laws to follow and it is important that we remember that.

I wasn’t aware until recently that there is another version, a tenfold path that is also described in the Pali Canon. The Tenfold Path is presented in the Mahacattarasika Sutta. It is the same as the Eightfold Path, but with two extra steps at the end.

The eightfold path, remember, is Right Understanding, Thought, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Contemplation.

The Tenfold version adds Right Knowledge and Right Liberation.

Right Knowledge means simply direct knowledge. An important part of the path is that seeing is believing. The Buddha said, “Don’t believe based on what you’re told, believe only based on your own experience and reason.”

So, Right Knowledge means knowledge as opposed to blind faith. We follow the eightfold path, not because we are told to, but because we can clearly see the benefits of following it in our lives.

Right Knowledge also represents knowing reality, not as we wish it to be, but as it truly is.

How is that different from Right Understanding?

Right Understanding is our ability to grasp Buddhist concepts like Impermanence and Nonself. Right Knowledge is when our practice helps us to know these things intuitively—with our intuition instead of our intellect.

Right Liberation is Enlightenment.

According to the Buddha, when we have Right Knowledge and the rest of the path, then Enlightenment comes naturally to us.

It’s not so much a goal to be attained, since our Buddha nature is our true self. It’s more something we have to awaken.

There is some debate within the Buddhist community—there are those that think that ‘Enlightenment’ isn’t a real thing, that the only Enlightenment we can find is Enlightenment in each moment.

The Mahacattarasika Sutta seems to suggest that Enlightenment is a state we can reach. And when we get there, I think we know it.

We get there by realizing we’re already there.


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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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