The path is essentially a way to awakening, a means to generate in our own minds the same experience of enlightenment that the Buddha himself went through while sitting beneath the Bodhi Tree.

In the causal chain that originates Dukkha, the Buddha points out that all the suffering and unsatisfactoriness we meet in the round of becoming arises because of our craving and clinging. Craving and clinging in turn are nurtured by ignorance, by blindness to the real nature of things that shrouds our minds. To eliminate ignorance what is needed is the exact opposite, knowledge, the superior wisdom that shines brightly and eclipses the darkness of ignorance. But this wisdom does not arise out of nothing. It arises out of conditions. The set of conditions that lead to enlightement constitutes the Noble Eightfold Path.

In describing the path the Buddha says that it produces knowledge and vision. The kind of knowledge the Path leads to is not conceptual or abstract knowledge, but immediate insight. By virtue of this insight, the Path leads to peace, the peace that comes with the destruction of craving and clinging, thus leading us out of the cycle of suffering, birth and death and to the ultimate goal, the unconditioned state, Nibbana, the deathless element.

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