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Magga-vibhanga Sutta

An Analysis of the Path

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only

I have heard that at one time the Blessed One was staying in Savatthi at Jeta's Grove, Anathapindika's park.

There he addressed the monks, saying, "Monks."

"Yes, lord," the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, "I will teach and analyze for you the Noble Eightfold Path. Listen and pay close attention. I will speak."

"As you say, lord," the monks responded to him.

The Blessed One said, "Now what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

"And what, monks, is right view? Knowledge with regard to stress, knowledge with regard to the origination of stress, knowledge with regard to the stopping of stress, knowledge with regard to the way of practice leading to the stopping of stress: This, monks, is called right view.

"And what is right resolve? Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill will, on harmlessness: This is called right resolve.

"And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, abstaining from divisive speech, abstaining from abusive speech, abstaining from idle chatter: This, monks, is called right speech.

"And what, monks, is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from sexual intercourse: This, monks, is called right action.

"And what, monks, is right livelihood? There is the case where a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood: This, monks, is called right livelihood.

"And what, monks, is right effort? (1) There is the case where a monk generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the non-arising of evil, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (2) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the abandonment of evil, unskillful qualities that have arisen. (3) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the sake of the arising of skillful qualities that have not yet arisen. (4) He generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds and exerts his intent for the maintenance, non-confusion, increase, plenitude, development, and culmination of skillful qualities that have arisen: This, monks, is called right effort.

"And what, monks, is right mindfulness? (1) There is the case where a monk remains focused on the body in and of itself -- ardent, aware, and mindful -- putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (2) He remains focused on feelings in and of themselves -- ardent, aware, and mindful -- putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (3) He remains focused on the mind in and of itself -- ardent, aware, and mindful -- putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. (4) He remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves -- ardent, aware, and mindful -- putting away greed and distress with reference to the world. This, monks, is called right mindfulness.

"And what, monks, is right concentration? (1) There is the case where a monk -- quite withdrawn from sensual pleasures, withdrawn from unskillful (mental) qualities -- enters and remains in the first jhana: rapture and pleasure born from withdrawal, accompanied by directed thought and evaluation. (2) With the stilling of directed thought and evaluation, he enters and remains in the second jhana: rapture and pleasure born of concentration, one-pointed-ness of awareness free from directed thought and evaluation -- internal assurance. (3) With the fading of rapture, he remains in equanimity, mindful and fully aware, and physically sensitive of pleasure. He enters and remains in the third jhana, of which the Noble Ones declare, 'Equanimous and mindful, he has a pleasurable abiding.' (4) With the abandoning of pleasure and pain -- as with the earlier disappearance of elation and distress -- he enters and remains in the fourth jhana: purity of equanimity and mindfulness, neither pleasure nor pain. This, monks, is called right concentration."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted at his words.

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