Man Reaches The Peak Of His Knowledge of God When He Realizes That He Does Not Know Him

Some irony from scholastic theologians, and perhaps for today's "Systematic Theologians" out there...

"Seven years had passed since Eckhart's previous professorship in Paris. Although he had continued to work on his Opus Tripartitum during that time, progress had been slow amid all his travel and administrative work on behalf of the order. Eckhart's second regent professorship in Paris offered him the time and resources to make significant progress on the Opus. Ironically, it was at just this point that his ambitious intellectual pursuit of God appears to have hit a deeply troubling impasse – namely the outer limits of human reason. It was a paradox that Aquinas too had discovered during the composition of his own Summa: 'Man reaches the peak of his knowledge of God when he realizes that he does not know Him, understanding that the divine reality surpasses all human conception of it.' Shortly before his own death, in fact, the Angelic Doctor had experienced a deeper understanding of the divine that 'made everything I had written seem as straw.' For Aquinas and Eckhart, all human perceptions, however logical, remained limited by the derivative and subsequently partial nature of our own understanding...

Over the past several years, the master had become increasingly intrigued by an alternate way of knowing God – the intuitive or 'mystical' approach embraced by his spiritual father, Augustine. According to Eckhart, Augustine had grasped that theologians were always trying to balance the understanding of God offered 'through a glass darkly' by reason with other wisdom obtained more directly by nonrational experience of the divine. Now Eckhart decided that knowing God intuitively from within was no longer merely a complementary method to knowing God from without through rational inquiry, but was in many important ways superior to it. The master never completely abandoned his philosophical work, but he increasingly acknowledged its inadequacies, particularly in reaching his own ultimate goal of achieving direct experience of the divine."

– Joel F. Harrington, Dangerous Mystic

We Do Not Know Ourselves

I'm not sure what to make of Jungian psychology, but I came across this statement today in his Man and His Symbols:







"Our psyche is part of nature, and its enigma is as limitless."







Its enigma is as limitless.  One thing a meditation practice will teach you is that you do not know yourself.  Not that you are analyzing yourself during meditation, but I think it makes you overall more aware of all the various drives, motivations, traumas, etc. swimming around in your mind.  I often think of the psyche as an ocean with no bottom.

One of the hopes of having a regular practice is that the psyche is pliable.  That we can actually be changed, through the practice, in a deep and lasting way.  

But I'm not sure we'll ever really know who we are.  I think what matters is the healing – the positive change – if such a thing is actually happening.  Not the self-knowledge.  

A Right State


"I was asked, 'Some people shun all company and always want to be alone; their peace depends on it, and on being in church. Was that the best thing?' And I said, 'No!' Now I see why. He who is in a right state, is always in a right state wherever he is, and with everybody. But if a man is in a wrong state, he is so everywhere and with anybody."

– Meister Eckhart, Quoted in Dangerous Mystic

The "right state," according to Eckhart, is a state of detachment from our own self-will.  

"In true obedience there should be no trace of 'I want so-and-so,' or 'this and that,' but a going out of your own."

If a man is in the right state, he is at peace in any situation, at any place, with anyone.  If he is in the wrong state, it doesn't matter where he is or who he is with.  Internal state trumps external circumstances.  

Dangerous Mystic


I just got through reading this biography of Meister Eckhart.  Very good.

The popular image of Eckhart is that of a pure mystic, probably out in an isolated cottage somewhere, absorbed in the presence of God, maybe occasionally counseling a wandering seeker. 

Eckhart was a professor at the University of Paris.  He held several official positions in the Dominican order of the Catholic Church.  He was extremely well educated in scholastic theology and philosophy.  But, like Aquinas, Eckhart eventually became disillusioned with academic theology and its ability to lead a soul to God.   Rather, he turned to experience, teaching that each individual could find God by turning within in silence.

Also his first name wasn't Meister, but rather just Eckhart.  Meister is a title meaning "master" or "teacher."  I did not know that.

Great, engaging read.  

Limit Your Screentime

The last few days I've left the computer at home, gone out with a stack of books, and got to it.  I often read on a Kindle app on my computer or iPad, but recently I've returned to good old-fashioned books.

It's better for your soul.  

A few observations:

1. I have got into more good conversations with people at coffee shops or book stores in the last few days than I have in the previous few months.  It's partly because when you're not "plugged in," you present yourself as more open to being engaged.  It's also partly because I feel like I am thinking more clearly without screen time.  I want to engage people in conversation more.  It feels natural.  I'm in "the real world."

2. We have way more capacity for sustained attention than we think.  Being on a device lends itself to constant distraction.  Read a passage, check your email, read a passage, look up a book on Amazon, check the news, watch a video, check the price of my cryptocurrency investment, read a blog, read a passage.  

Without the screen, I can give my full attention to what I'm reading for a significant amount of time.  I just got through reading a 500 page novel and a 300 page historical study.  No way I could do that on my iPad.  Even if I go back and forth between a few books during a specific reading time, it's just different.  I'm fully in it.  

An interesting study on this ability (or inability) for sustained attention is found in The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.

3. I don't worry about my stuff being stolen when I go to the bathroom.  I go to the bathroom in complete peace. 


The author of The Cloud of Unknowing recommends that an aspiring contemplative cultivates three habits.




"Nevertheless, anyone who aspires to contemplation ought to cultivate Study, Reflection, and Prayer, or to put it differently, reading, thinking, and praying."







Reading.  Thinking.  Praying.  I think I do those things better when I'm not on or near a screen. 

Spiritual Practice and Anxiety

Just a reminder that spiritual practice can induce periods of increased anxiety.  In Centering Prayer, my own tradition, this is sometimes spoken of as the "unloading of the unconscious" which can include exposure to past traumas.  

"I call this third moment in the circular movement of Centering Prayer 'the unloading of the unconscious.' 'Unloading' refers to the experience of psychological nausea that occurs in the form of bombardment of thoughts and feelings that surge into our awareness without any relationship to the immediate past. That lack of connection with the source of painful thoughts or feelings is what identifies them as coming from our unconscious...Having carried this emotional pain for twenty or thirty years (or longer), the evacuation process may be extremely painful..."

–Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God


"...Centering Prayer is a psychological method and will produce results in that realm, some of them initially painful. In Intimacy with God Keating recounts how a graduate student recently did a thesis on Centering Prayer, along with several forms of Eastern meditation, recommending them as a way to reduce anxiety. Keating wrote back to the man saying, 'Centering Prayer will reduce anxiety for perhaps the first three months. But once the unconscious starts to unload, it will give you more anxiety than you ever had in your life.' For individual practitioners he recommends a limited dosage— twenty to thirty minutes twice a day is the normal prescription— to prevent the premature emergence of material into the conscious. Ten-day retreats rely on a trained staff to help handle a more intensive unloading process."

– Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening


I have heard and read of similar experiences from those who practice Vipassana and Zazen meditation.  While "the benefits of meditation" in the long term may include a more consistent inner calm, ups and downs are a normal part of most spiritual paths.  

Boom goes the dynamite...


Schools of Buddhism


This is the best graphic I could find on the branches of Buddhism.  You can get a sense of just how much diversity exists within Buddhism, to the point that it may not even be helpful to talk about "Buddhism," but rather "Buddhisms."  


From what I understand, Theravada, sometimes called "the Way of The Elders," is the most conservative branch, and strives more than the others to follow every rule and every teaching of the Buddha strictly as found in the Pali Canon.  "Western Buddhism" draws mostly from the Theravada tradition.  Mahayana, sometimes called "the Great Vehicle," is the most liberal of the branches, being freely combined with other philosophies such as Confucianism and Taoism and even adding unique Buddhist texts, creating "hybrid schools."  In general, there is less stress on following the Buddha's teachings strictly and more openness to new developments in Mahayana schools.  Vajrayana, sometimes called the Thunderbolt Vehicle, is a smaller branch and is focused on ritual and tantras/mantras.  Tibetan Buddhism is probably the most well known modern expression of Vajrayana.  

Zen stands out as a "sub-branch" which is also familiar to Westerners.  I have heard Zen referred to as "Buddhism gone to China," and also as a fusion of Buddhism and Taoism.  There are, of course, sub-divisions of Zen as well.  

The branches of Buddhism seem to me far more diverse than the major branches of Christianity.  When studying a particular Buddhist teaching, it is important to know which type of Buddhism you are engaging.  

This will end the extended series on the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path of Buddhism.  

Jhana Meditation


Right Concentration is the eighth branch of the Eightfold Noble Path and involves the practice of Jhana meditation.

I understand the concept of a concentration practice, but dang official Jhana meditation is complicated.  The basic practice itself seems to start fairly simply, with concentration on the breath (as a side note, this is essentially zazen meditation), but as it progresses you are moving through a lot of different objects of concentration and there is a high degree of systematizing of various mindstates that arise (i.e. am I in First Jhana?  Second Jhana?  etc.).

From a non-Buddhist perspective this is extremely esoteric.  I can see why mindfulness practice is extremely widespread while Jhana meditation is not.  It's just flat out complicated, and far more embedded within the Buddhist structure itself.

This is about as accessible a conversation I have heard about Jhana meditation and the book is good as well.  


Joseph Goldstein on Vipassana Meditation

This is a guided vipassana meditation and lecture from Joseph Goldstein, a senior teacher at the Insight Meditation Society.  The first 20 minutes is a guided meditation; the next 40 minutes is a lecture on mindfulness; and the rest is a question and answer time.  Goldstein defines mindfulness as "observing present experience, free of any filters" (41:30).  This is sometimes stated as "non-judgmentally" observing present moment experience.  Right Mindfulness is the seventh step of the Buddhist Eightfold path.  

St. John of the Cross and Buddhism

Non-attachment is a fundamental concept in virtually all contemplative traditions.  You could even say that the only difference between a St. John of the Cross and the Buddha's presentation of the Four Noble Truths in the Pali Canon is that St. John commends non-attachment from all things so that one can be ultimately and completely attached to God. 

Union with God and Nibbana could also, almost, be equated depending on how much similarity you want to see in the traditions.  

You could also draw comparisons between the final stages of Jhana meditation, which, supposedly, Buddha was practicing on the day of his Enlightenment, with the Christian concept of contemplation.  In the final stages of Jhana meditation, one is absorbed into "the base of boundless consciousness," "the base of nothingness," "the base of neither perception nor non-perception," while the Christian contemplative is "absorbed into God."

Although St. John of the Cross and Siddhartha Gautama come from different theoretical viewpoints, one could argue that they are experiencing virtually the same thing.  

Of course this depends on how much similarity you want to emphasize between the traditions.  But the parallels stand out to me. 



I re-watched Her for about the fourth time the other day.  I think it's just brilliant.

One theme that really resonates with the current series on Buddhism is that of impermanence.  We are not the same people, and thus our relationships are not the same relationships, from one day, one month, one year to another.  As shown in the movie, this is both exciting and challenging.  

Overall, Her is a fantastic exploration of what it means to be in relationship, any kind of relationship, with another changing, evolving being. 

It also contains a "hyper-intelligent," non-physical version of Alan Watts, so there's that...


A Poisoned Arrow

The following is a famous passage from the Pali Canon which is often used to claim that the Buddha was strictly practical, and did not make metaphysical claims.  The passage certainly affirms this, but it must be held in balance with other Suttas which show the Buddha accepting the existence of various metaphyiscal realms, the reality of reincarnation, etc.  

I don't think it's accurate to say that, "the Buddha didn't make any metaphysical claims."  But I do believe we can say that he downplayed their importance in favor of practical spiritual practice.

In this passage, a disciple declares that he will not follow The Master unless he declares his position on various metaphysical statements.  In response, the Buddha gives an example of a man wounded by an arrow.  The man will not let the surgeon pull the arrow out until he knows who shot him, what he looks like, where he lives.  The wounded man dies without knowing the answers.  In the same way, we will die without knowing the answers to a host of metaphysical questions.  What we should be concerned about, according to this parable, is how to pull out the arrow of suffering in the here and now.  

"Suppose, Malunkyaputtta, a man were wounded by an arrow thickly smeared with poison, and his friends and companions, his kinsmen and relatives, brought a surgeon to treat him.  The man would say: 'I will not let the surgeon pull out this arrow until I know whether the man who wounded me was a khattiya, a brahmin, a merchant, or a worker.'  And he would say: 'I will not let the surgeon pull out this arrow until I know the name and clan of the man who wounded me;... until I know whether the man who wounded me was dark brown, or golden-skinned;... until I know whether the man who wounded me was tall, short, or of middle height...until I know whether the man who wounded me lives in a village, town, or city'...

All this would still not be known to that man, and meanwhile he would die.  So too, Malunkyaputta, if anyone should say thus: 'I will not lead the spiritual life under the Blessed One until the Blessed One declares to me: 'the world is eternal' and 'the world is not eternal;' 'the world is finite' and 'the world is infinite;' 'the soul is the same as the body' and 'the soul is one thing and the body is another;' and 'after death a Tathagata exists' and 'after death a Tathagata does not exist' and 'after death a Tathagata both exists and does not exist' and 'after death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist;' that would still remain undeclared by the Tathagata and meanwhile that person would die...

Therefore, Malunkyaputta, remember that what I have left undeclared as undeclared, and remember what I have declared as declared.  And what have I left undeclared?  'The world is eternal' - I have left undeclared.  'The world is eternal' - I have left undeclared. 'The world is finite' - I have left undeclared.  'The world is infinite' - I have left undeclared.  'The soul is the same thing as the body' - I have left undeclared.  'The soul is one thing and the body is another' - I have left undeclared.  'After death a Tathagata does not exist' - I have left undeclared.  'After death a Tathagata both exists and does not exist' - I have left undeclared.  'After death a Tathagata neither exists nor does not exist' - I have left undeclared.  

Why have I left that undeclared?  Because it is unbeneficial, it does not belong to the fundamentals of the spiritual life, it does not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.  That is why I have left it undeclared.

And what have I declared?  'This is suffering' - I have declared.  'This is the origin of suffering' - I have declared.  'This is the cessation of suffering' - I have declared.  'This is the way leading to the cessation of suffering' - I have declared.

Why have I declared that?  Because it is beneficial, it belongs to the fundamentals of the spiritual life, it leads to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to peace, to direct knowledge, to enlightenment, to Nibbana.  That is why I have declared it.  

Therefore, Malunkyaputta, remember what I have left undeclared as undeclared, and remember what I have declared as declared.  That is what the Blessed One said.  The Venerable Malunkyaputta was satisfied and delighted in the Blessed One's words."

– Majjhima Nikaya 63, Culamalunkya Sutta; I 426-32


The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path Reflection: Desires Extinguished or Non-Attachment to Desire?

A final reflection on the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path is an open question.  

Is there a conceivable point, at the end of the Buddhist journey, where personal desire is completely extinguished?  Does a real life Enlightened Buddha (if there is such a thing) never experience thirst for water?  A natural wish to avoid physical pain?  Or a personal desire for sex?  A candy bar?  Comfort?  The company of others?

If suffering is a result of desire, as the Second Noble Truth would lead us to believe, this would seem to be a natural understanding of Enlightenment.  No desire, no suffering.  There are also various texts which seem to imply this.  For instance, here are some statements from the Dhammapada (the term trishna – thirst/craving – is here translated as "selfish desire"):

"How can you describe him in human language – the Buddha, the awakened one, free from the net of desires and the pollution of passions, free from all conditioning?" (14:180)

"They are true followers of the Buddha who rejoice in the conquest of desires." (14:187)

"He is a real monk who has extinguished all selfish desires, large and small." (19:265)

"Not by rituals and resolutions, nor by much learning, nor by celibacy, nor even by meditation can you find the supreme, immortal joy of nirvana until you have extinguished your self-will." (19:271-272)

"Cut down the whole forest of selfish desires, not just one tree only.  Cut down the whole forest and you will be on your way to liberation." (20:283)

"Abiding joy will be yours when all selfish desires end." (21: 305)

Or... is a realistic picture of the end of the journey simply non-attachment to desire?  That is, we still experience normal desires, we just become unconcerned if they are fulfilled.  

A quote from Katsuki Sekida's Zen Training captures this idea well:


"Every time we succeed in banishing a mean or restricted ego—a petty ego—another ego with a broader outlook appears in its place, and eventually what we may call an “egoless ego” will make its appearance. And when you have acquired an egoless ego, there is no hatred, no jealousy, no fear; you experience a state in which you see everything in its true aspect. It is a state in which you cling to or adhere to nothing. It is not that you are without desires, but that while desiring and adhering to things you are at the same time unattached to them... True freedom is freedom from your own desires."



I tend to think that even someone at the end of the path, a "non-returner" or an aharant in Buddhist nomenclature, would still experience desire. 

Maybe I'm just splitting hairs.  


The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path Reflections: Non-Attachment to People

I've written before about how I don't like how it sounds to be "non-attached" to people.  It feels wrong to say that I shouldn't be attached to my family or friends.  

Maybe it's just the language.  It sounds bad.  

The Second Noble Truth can be interpreted in several ways.  Suffering is sometimes said to be a result of "attachment," "craving," or even "ignorance."  Part of it is a decision about how you translate, and I believe part of it is because different texts from the Pali Canon may use slightly different language here.  

I'm much more comfortable saying "I shouldn't crave what others can give me."  Maybe that's the same thing as being unattached to people.  

It sounds better.  Non-craving instead of non-attachment when it comes to people.


The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path Reflections: Spiritual Practice as Part of a Wider Path

On the Eightfold Noble Path, it is important to remember that meditative practice is only one element of the wider path.  Philosophy, ethics, practice.  It all works together.  

In regards to ethics, I am reminded of a quote from The Perennial Philosophy:

"Nor are changes in the knower’s physiological or intellectual being the only ones to affect his knowledge. What we know depends also on what, as moral beings, we choose to make ourselves. 'Practice,' in the words of William James, 'may change our theoretical horizon, and this in a twofold way: it may lead into new worlds and secure new powers. Knowledge we could never attain, remaining what we are, may be attainable in consequences of higher powers and a higher life, which we may morally achieve.' To put the matter more succinctly, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'"

On nearly all spiritual paths, meditative practice works in conjunction with other elements of life, such as the ethical choices we make.  "Just meditation" isn't enough.  All of life is practice. 

I think a lot in terms of selflessness.  We have to choose to be selfless.  It doesn't just happen magically.  This is part of the ongoing tension between forming yourself and being formed.


The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path Reflections: It's Complicated

One thing that has struck me while reading through The Noble Eightfold Path and In The Buddha's Words is that, although there is an outer simplicity to the Buddhist Eightfold Path, things get really complicated really quickly.  The Dhamma (the entire Buddhist teaching) is much more than just the Eightfold Path.  

Here are some quotations from Bhikkhu Bodhi's introduction to the chapter Shining the Light of Wisdom in In The Buddha's Words.

"The Five Aggregates.  The five aggregates are the main categories the Nikayas use to analyze human experience.  The five are: (1) form, the physical component of experience; (2) feeling the 'affective tone' of experience – either pleasant, painful, or neutral; (3) perception, the identification of things through their distinctive marks and features; (4) volitional formations, a term for the multifarious mental factors involving volition, choice, and intention; and (5) consciousness, cognition arisen through any of the six sense faculties – eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind.  Examination of the five critical to the Buddha's teaching..."


"The Six Sense Bases.  The Salayatanasamyutta, the Connected Discourses on the Six Sense Bases, contains over two hundred short suttas on the sense bases.  The six internal and external sense bases provide a perspective on the totality of experience different from, but complementary to, the perspective provided by the aggregates."


"The Elements.  The elements are the subject of the Dhatusamyutta.  The word 'elements' is applied to several quite disparate groups of phenomena, and thus the suttas in this chapter fall into separate clusters with little in common but their concern with entities called elements.  The most important groups consist of eighteen, four, and six elements.  The eighteen elements are an elaboration of the twelve sense bases..."


"Dependent Origination.  Dependent origination is so central to the Buddha's teaching that the Buddha said: 'One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma, and one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination.'  The ultimate purpose of the teaching on dependent origination is to reveal the conditions that sustain the round of rebirths and thereby to show what must be done to gain release from the round.  To win deliverance is a matter of unraveling the causal pattern that underlies our bondage, and this process begins with understanding the causal pattern itself.  It is dependent origination that defines this causal pattern.  An entire chapter of the Samyutta Nikaya, the Nidanasamyutta, is devoted to dependent origination.  The doctrine is usually expounded as a sequence of twelve factors joined into a chain of eleven propositions..."

Five aggregates, six sense bases, eighteen elements, twelve factors, eleven propositions.  One could go on.  This kind of "hyperclassification" seems to be prevalent in other forms of Indian philosophy as well, so I don't think it's necessarily unique to Buddhism.  But it does get complicated.

It also stands out to me that the rhetoric of the Pali Canon lends itself to statements like this: "One who sees dependent origination sees the Dhamma, and one who sees the Dhamma sees dependent origination."  You continue to find statements that imply, "If you just get this, you'll get the entire teaching."  Or, "The Dhamma is summed up in this."  Unfortunately that thought is applied to many concepts within the Canon.  I've come to just see this as part of the rhetoric to be aware of.  But it continues to make me confused as to what is, and what is not, essential in the teaching.  

The Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path Reflections: Forming Yourself vs. Being Formed

The Eightfold Path seems to be very much a systematization of spiritual experience.  The claim is, if you just do A + B + C + D you will get to Enlightenment.  It's spiritual math.

In a lot of the contemplative traditions there is a tension between forming yourself (i.e. disciplining yourself morally, willing your mortification, "right effort" in the Buddhist path) and being formed (i.e. letting the meditative practice, or God, from some points of view, "do It's work").  

Theravada Buddhism is more on the "forming yourself" end of the spectrum.  Karma is an immutable law.  The effort you put in is what you will get out.  The meditative practices do need to "act on you," but the emphasis is more on personal effort.  

In the Christian tradition, we can open ourselves, we can prepare our spirits, but at the end of the day we are dependent upon the work of God for transformation:

"Then why is this work so toilsome? The labor, of course, is in the unrelenting struggle to banish the countless distracting thoughts that plague our minds and to restrain them beneath that cloud of forgetting which I spoke of earlier. This is the suffering. All the struggle is on man’s side in the effort he must make to prepare himself for God’s action, which is the awakening of love and which he alone can do. But persevere in doing your part and I promise you that God will not fail to do his."

The Cloud of Unknowing


"Now, very briefly, I must just touch on the means for reaching this state. Here, again, it has been constantly stressed that the means do not consist in mental activity and discursive reasoning. They consist in what Roger Fry, speaking about art, used to call 'alert passivity,' or in what a modern American mystic, Frank C. Laubach, has called 'determined sensitiveness.' This is a very remarkable phrase. You don’t do anything, but you are determined to be sensitive to letting something be done within you."

– Aldous Huxley, Symbol and Immediate Experience, The Divine Within

There is certainly also a tension in the Christian tradition.  We are responsible for our moral lives.  We are responsible for putting ourselves in a place for God to act.  But in the end, true transformation has to come passively.  It has to be a gift.  

Personal effort and "alert passivity" are required in both paths.  It's a matter of emphasis.

The Eightfold Noble Path: Summary Text

I found this text, which seems to sum up the Eightfold Noble Path, in a different collection by Bhikkhu Bodhi called In the Buddha's Words.  I'm a little confused as to why I haven't seen this elsewhere as it gives a succinct overview of the Path.  There are some details and elaborations missing (for instance there is no discussion of what constitutes "Right Livelihood" and no discussion of the immaterial jhanas), but overall I think it is a helpful text for putting it all together.

The following is from the Samyutta Nikaya 45:8 V 8-10:

"'Monks, I will teach you the Noble Eightfold Path, and I will analyze it for you. Listen and attend closely; I will speak.'

'Yes venerable sir,' those monks replied. The Blessed One said this:

'And what, monks, is the Noble Eightfold Path? Right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

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: this is called right view.

And what, monks, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention.

And what, monks, is right speech? Abstinence from false speech, abstinence from malicious speech, abstinence from harsh speech, abstinence from idle chatter: this is called right speech.

And what, monks, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct: this is called right action.

And what, monks, is right livelihood? Here a noble disciple, having abandoned a wrong mode of livelihood, earns his living by a right livelihood: this is called right livelihood.

And what, monks, is right effort? Here, monks, a monk generates desire for the nonarising of unarisen evil unwholesome states; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind, and strives. He generates desire for the abandoning of arisen evil unwholesome states... He generates desire for the arising of unarisen wholesome states...He generates desire for the continuation of arisen wholesome states, for their nondecline, increase, expansion, and fulfillment by development; he makes an effort, arouses energy, applies his mind and strives. This is called right effort.

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, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating mind in mind, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. He dwells contemplating phenomena in phenomena, ardent, clearly comprehending, mindful, having removed longing and dejection in regard to the world. This is called right mindfulness.

And what, monks, is right concentration? Here, monks, secluded from sensual pleasures, secluded from unwholesome states, a monk enters and dwells in the first jhana, which is accompanied by thought and examination, with rapture and happiness born of seclusion. With the subsiding of thought and examination, he enters and dwells in the second jhana, which as internal confidence and unification of mind, is without thought and examination, and has rapture and happiness born of concentration. With the fading away as well of rapture, he dwells equanimous and, mindful and clearly comprehending, he experiences happiness with the body; he enters and dwells in the third jhana of which the noble ones declare: 'He is equanimous, mindful, one who dwells happily.' With the abandoning of pleasure and pain, and with the previous passing away of joy and dejection, he enters and dwells in the fourth jhana, which is neither painful nor pleasant and includes the purification of mindfulness by equanimity. This is called right concentration.'"