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Lions Roar : May 2006
With right effort the kilesas, or defilements, will not be ac- cepted into the mind. Right effort helps to block off the en- trance to the so-called path of unwholesomeness, or path of mental defilements. Simultaneously, the path of wholesome- ness opens up. Mindfulness protects the mind from attack by kilesas. Concentration has the effect of unifying and focusing the mind so that it stays on the object as and when it arises. These three mental factors—effort, mindfulness, and con- centration—together are known as the concentration group, which is one sector of the noble eightfold path. They’re also known as the training in concentration, or the teaching of con- centration. In ordinary shorthand we just call them samadhi. When the concentration group comes together in the mind, kilesas don’t stand a chance. As the meditator aims the mind again and again, his or her awareness gets more and more focused and direct. Sensuous thoughts fail to arise. Nor will there be thoughts of hatred and ill will. The desire to torment others will disappear. Since the mind goes straight to the ob- ject of meditation, it does not slip off into lust, distractions, and other forms of torment. The obsessive mental defilements are overcome. In one minute of practice, right aim arises sixty times. Right aim is another factor of the noble eightfold path. While noting the rising and falling of the abdomen mo- ment by moment, one sees its nature sixty times a minute. The actual nature of the movement will be seen, understood, and known for oneself—not through the mediation of anybody else. When other objects arise, they will be known in the same way. This direct understanding is right view. The two factors of right aim and right view together are called the wisdom group of the noble eightfold path. They’re also called the training in wisdom, or the teaching of wisdom. With training in wisdom, even the dormant or latent defilements will be temporarily dispelled. Seeing the actual nature of the mind-body process, we begin to cut through to more subtle levels of knowledge. The Eightfold Path The Three Trainings 3. Wisdom 1. Virtue or Moral Discipline 2. Concentration Factors of the Eightfold Path 1. Right View 2. Right Aim or Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness or Attentiveness 8. Right Concentration Description A view based on an understanding of the four noble truths and the workings of cause and effect Resolve that favors renunciation, goodwill, and nonharm Abstaining from lying, divisive tale-bearing, harsh or abusive language, and idle chatter Abstaining from taking life, stealing, and sexual misconduct Abstaining from occupations that harm living beings Persistence in avoiding and eliminating unskillful mental qualities, and nurturing skillful ones in their place Focus on any one of: 1. mindfulness of body, 2. mindfulness of feelings, 3. mindfulness of mind, and 4. mindfulness of mental object Wholesome, one-pointed concentration based on mindfulness Sources: What the Buddha Taught, by Walpola Rahula, “The Noble Eightfold Path,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi, and The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH is the Buddha’s fourth noble truth—the path leading to release from suffering. Its eight factors are not necessarily steps to be followed in sequence, but have been compared to the intertwining strands of a single cable, where each strand contributes to the strength of the cable. The path, as characterized in the first turning of the wheel of dharma, is often grouped according to the “three trainings,” illus- trated in the table below. The three trainings begin with the development of moral discipline, followed by concentration, and finally by wisdom. But because to begin you require at least a rudimentary understanding of right view and right aim, the eightfold path is traditionally presented with these two factors listed first. SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2006 50