Noble Eightfold Path

(ca. 528 BCE)

The Noble Eightfold Path, one of the principal teachings of the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), is a chief text in the canonical scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. Its primary purposes were to help followers end suffering and achieve enlightenment and self-awakening. The discourse on the Noble Eightfold Path is part of the Pali canon, the standard collection of scriptures in Theravada Buddhism; it is called “Pali” because it was preserved in the Pali language, a largely literary language of India that no one actually spoke. The Pali canon remains the only early Buddhist canon that survives in its entirety and was the first Buddhist canon to be written down (by the Fourth Buddhist Council, held in Sri Lanka in 29 BCE, some four and a half centuries after the death of the Buddha). Until then it was preserved in oral tradition.

Description of the Pali canon necessarily involves a considerable amount of nomenclature and classification. First, the canon comprises three general...

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Buddha (Yale University Art Gallery)

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