The Eightfold Path Summary I: The Wisdom Element

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 25-88)

This is the first talk summarizing the Eightfold Path.

The Eightfold Path is divided into three elements:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Morality
  3. Concentration

This talk will address the Wisdom Element. 

The Wisdom Element

The Wisdom Element consists of two steps:

Skillful Understanding

This step presents the understanding for why we are following the path.  There are two factors to understand:  cause and effect and the Four Noble Truths.

Cause and Effect

Karma – everything is connected.  The deluded mind cannot understand this.

Acting in skillful ways leads to happy results and acting in unskillful ways leads to unhappy results.

The Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths are about understanding the nature of suffering.

The Truths can be described succinctly:

  • First Noble Truth:  there is Dissatisfaction (suffering).
  • Second Noble Truth: there is a Cause of Dissatisfaction.
  • Third Noble Truth:  there is a way to achieve Cessation of Dissatisfaction.
  • Fourth Noble Truth:  the way to Cessation of Dissatisfaction is through the (Eightfold) Path 

Skillful Thinking

This step deals with the nature of thoughts.

Thoughts are fabrications of our mind.  All thoughts share the common characteristics of impermanence, dissatisfaction and selflessness.  They can be skillful or unskillful.

Skillful thoughts are associated with letting go (renunciation), absence of ill will and absence of cruelty.

Unskillful thoughts are associated with attachment (material objects, people, experiences, beliefs and emotions), ill-will, and cruelty.

A helpful practice as described in the sixth step of the Eightfold Path, Skillful Effort, is to replace unskillful thoughts with their opposite:

  • Attachment:  Generosity
  • Ill-will:  Loving Kindness
  • Cruelty:  Compassion 


  • Read this talk every day and reflect on it.  Also, take the opportunity to review the 14 talks on Skillful Understanding and Skillful Thinking. 


  • Continue your practice of meditation using either concentration, insight or both.
  • From your understanding and realization of Skillful Understanding and Skillful Thinking, you can know the basis of all phenomena that arise.

Next: The Eightfold Path Summary II: The Morality Element
Skillful Concentration: Mindfulness of Skillful Concentration