The Noble Eightfold Path -By Bhikkhu Bodhi

Dukkha, its origin, its cessation, and the way to its cessation-these are the Four Noble Truths, the "elephant's footprint" that contains within itself all the essential teachings of the Buddha. It might be risky to say that any one truth is more important than the others. since they all hang together in a very close integral unit. But if we were to single out one truth as the key to the whole Dhamma it would be the Fourth Noble Truths, the truth of the way, the way to the end of Dukkha. That is the Noble Eightfold Path, the path made up of the following eight factors divided into three larger groups;

We say that the path is the most important element in the Buddha's teaching because the path is what makes the Dhamma available to us as a living experience. Without the path the Dhamma would just be a shell, collection of doctrines without inner life. Without the path full deliverance from suffering would become a mere dream.