THE GOAL OF WISDOM

A BUDDHIST TEACHING

Onone occasion, a wise disciple of the Buddha known as the Venerable Sāriputta was approached by a wanderer. The wanderer asked — what is Nibbāna (or wisdom)? As the story goes, Sāriputta answered, “The destruction of lust, the destruction of hatred, the destruction of delusion: this, friend, is called Nibbāna.”

The wanderer asked, is there a path or way to the realization of this Nibbāna? Sāriputta put it this way,

"It is this Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. This is the path, friend, this is the way for the realization of this Nibbāna."

Sāriputta

The idea of the Eightfold Path appears in what is regarded as the first sermon of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha. The anthology of discourses titled In the Buddha’s Words (translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi) provides a brief analysis of the eight elements:

(1) “And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge of suffering, knowledge of the origin of suffering, knowledge of the cessation of suffering, knowledge of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

(2) And what, monks, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non–ill will, intention of harmlessness.

(3) And what, monks, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from malicious speech, abstinence from harsh speech…

(4) And what, monks, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct.

(5) And what, monks, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns his living by a right livelihood.

(6) And what, monks, is right effort? Here, monks, a monk generates desire for the non-arising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives.

(7) And what, monks is right mindfulness? Here, monks, a monk dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings….

(8) “And what, monks, is right concentration? Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in the first jhāna (meditation), which is accompanied by thought and examination.…”

According to the Buddha, “Through disenchantment with form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness, through their fading away and cessation, a monk liberated by wisdom is liberated by non-clinging; he is called one liberated by wisdom.”

CONTRIBUTOR

JOSHUA BERTOLOTTI

As a contributor to The Walled Garden Philosophical Society, I explore, write, mentor, and find meaning and connection with this growing community of seekers and curious minds.

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